PA Insurance Commissioner: Winter-Related Damage to Vehicles Can Lead to Auto Insurance Questions

Mar 11, 2011, 11:00 ET from Pennsylvania Insurance Department

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania drivers coping with vehicle damage from potholes or weather have the right under state law to choose their own repair shop, acting Insurance Commissioner Michael F. Consedine said today.

"While many insurance companies work with preferred body shops, insurance companies are not permitted to require policyholders to use a specific shop," Consedine said.

Damage to cars due to potholes is covered under the optional collision portion of an auto insurance policy. Coverage for potholes may vary from company to company—for instance, there may be limited coverage for damage to tires if the vehicle itself was not affected by the pothole. This coverage also pays for a collision with another car or object, or as a result of flipping over. Collision coverage is generally sold with a deductible of $250 to $1,000—the higher the deductible, the lower the premium.

The optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy provides coverage for weather-related damage such as a tree limb or chunk of ice that falls on a car. Comprehensive coverage also provides reimbursement for losses due to theft, fire, earthquakes, flood or hail. Basically, it covers losses caused by something other than a collision with another car or object, or a crash with an animal such as a deer. This coverage is also offered with a deductible. This coverage also reimburses for cracked or shattered windshields.

Consumers with questions or concerns should visit or call the department's toll-free, consumer hotline at (877) 881-6388, or either of the department's Bureau of Consumer Services' regional offices: Harrisburg at (717) 787-2317; or Philadelphia at (215) 560-2630.

Media contact: Rosanne Placey or Melissa Fox, 717-787-3289

SOURCE Pennsylvania Insurance Department