Which means bent rims and a torn-up suspension are on you

Hitting a pothole can mean taking a hit to your pocketbook since insurers don’t always cover the damages. Most insurers look at pothole damage as an at-fault damage claim, which means bent rims and a torn-up suspension are on you.

If you don’t want to foot the bill for a torn-up suspension or a bent rim, you might try hitting up the city, county or state agency that’s responsible for maintaining the roadways.

This isn’t always an easy process, and lots of cities pass the buck on to motorists and insurance companies. But if you’re lucky, some state and local governments will willingly pay for the damages that potholes cause to vehicles.

It just might take a little patience, and some work.

Compared to other cities, Chicago appears to be one of the more forthcoming municipalities when it comes to paying out pothole claims. The Chicago Office of the City Clerk processes damage claims of up to $2,000 before passing them along to the City Council’s Finance Committee.

In 2013, the city paid off 754 claims, at an average of $240 per claim, according to a report by Chicago Magazine.

“It’s a nice customer service,” says Pat Corcoran, spokesman for the Office of the City Clerk.

The catch is that the city usually pays half the cost, with the idea that motorists are partly at fault for hitting the pothole. And filing claims can be a tedious process that can take several months.

“We find that people are initially frustrated with the realization that it’s going to take time, and it’s not going to be a full reimbursement,” Corcoran says. “However, people are generally pleased when that check finally arrives.”

The best piece of advice, Corcoran says, it to have the claim forms filled out completely and accurately before they’re submitted, since having errors in the damage claim can lead to further holdups.

It’s also best not to delay submitting the claim, since the City Council meets only once a month to review them. “Get those receipts to us as quickly as possible to expedite what’s going to be a longish process,” he says.

Grand Rapids, Mich., is another city where residents have had some luck getting their money back, 1 in 7 residents paid in 2013, according to a report by MLive. That included nine pothole damage claims approved for payment, for a total of $4,185; 55 claims were rejected, in most cases because the city claimed no prior knowledge of the pothole.

Cities reluctant to loosen purse strings

Other cities appear to be less forthcoming with payouts. The city of Dallas is less forthcoming with payouts. The Dallas Morning News

reports that 217 people filed pothole-related claims between February and July, but 200 of those claims were denied. As of July, the other 17 claims remained under investigation.

In New Orleans, a city notorious for its pockmarked roadways, potholes have become such an issue for motorists that one resident formed an advocacy group known as Fix My Streets to get the attention of public officials.