Pothole season is almost upon us. The extreme temperatures coupled with lots of snowfall may mean a rough ride this spring. Throw in a Chinook or two, and you might be dealing with some deep potholes before you know it.
Potholes are the City’s responsibility to fill but in the meantime, what do you do if your car is damaged while driving through one? You can try to make a claim against the City or the Province (depending on the road) but as long as they are meeting the minimum maintenance standards set out in legislation the damage is your responsibility to fix.
Should you make a claim through your car insurance? Or pay for the damage yourself?
If you’re hoping to make a claim through your auto insurance, there are few things you should do – just like you would with any accident.
- If the vehicle is blocking traffic, you should move it to a safe place as soon as possible and use your emergency flashers to warn other drivers.
- Document the scene of the accident including photos of the pothole, your vehicle, the damage to your vehicle. If you have a cell phone, take pictures. If not, write down as many details as possible including the location of the accident, the time, any witnesses (get their name, address and phone number), and the weather and road conditions.
- File a police report – remembering to get the filing officer’s badge number, station and name of police force.
According to insurance, your accident is not the pothole’s fault.
Before you decide whether to put the claim through on your insurance, it’s important for you to know that a pothole claim is classified as an at-fault accident. And you can only make a make a claim if your auto insurance currently includes collision coverage on your vehicle. You will still have to pay your collision deductible and your auto insurance rates could go up at your next renewal (because of the at-fault claim history).
Depending on the amount of the damage done, it could be less than your deductible – in which case you wouldn’t even consider filing a claim. But if the damage is more than your deductible, you need to seriously consider the long-term impact an at-fault claim will have on your insurance record. Many companies offer one at-fault accident forgiveness before penalties kick in (penalties could include losing coverage at renewal, increasing your costs at renewal or increasing your deductible). Talk your options and your coverage through with a trusted insurance broker to make sure you’re considering all the implications.
And beware of those potholes! Should you see or experience a pothole that needs attention in Calgary you can report it to 311