Ohio is notorious for its freeze thaw cycle. Every year about this time we emerge from the comforts of our homes often bewildered by the damage that has taken place to our streets. For those of us who commute great distances it is just a matter of time before you hit the inevitable frame bending, teeth jarring, wheel busting pothole.
You can be the best driver in the known universe and somewhere there is a pothole with your name on it. The downside is under most policies your deductibles usually cover the majority of pothole damage repair costs.
What about the city?
Cities have themselves covered in most cases as Potholes are covered under “sovereign immunity” status. Meaning if your vehicle is damaged while driving on locally maintained roads Cities are not responsible, similar to act of nature clauses. However, some municipalities have ordinances in place stating that if vehicle damage by a pothole that has been reported to the city for repair, the city may be responsible for covering your insurance deductible. Several municipalities also allow you to appeal to City Council under “moral claim”, but it is far from likely a city will choose to cover these costs.
How about state or federal roads?
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has a claims process as well. You can submit a reimbursement claim for your deductible due to damage caused by potholes or if the damage was less than the deductible but caused on state roads (system of roads includes all Interstates, as well as US and state routes outside of municipalities). ODNR CLAIMS FORM HERE
So what can you do to protect yourself?
- Slow down. You only have seconds to react so the slower you go, the better chance you have of spotting a rim buster.
- Use great caution when reacting to a pothole, such as changing lanes. You don’t want to cause a worse accident trying to avoid the lesser one.
- If you hit a pothole and notice steering or performance problems be sure to pull clear of traffic to inspect possible damage. Don’t stop and get out near moving traffic.
- If you notice a vibration, steering wheel is off-center, unusual tire wear or the vehicle handles different then prior to hitting the pothole have your vehicle checked by a certified mechanic. You don’t want to continue driving at any speed if there is a problem.
Here’s hoping you (and your cars front end) get through the spring without issue. If you need help or would like more information on what you polciy covers contact your TEAM ATD representative. We’re always here for you!