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The Hartford To Help Fill Potholes In Hartford

MARK SPENCER

October 16, 2009

HARTFORD - It's there every day on your way to work like a relative you try to avoid, patiently waiting for you to drop your guard so it can jolt you back to reality, leaving you cursing and hoping you car survived the encounter.

There are the potholes you know and slalom through with finesse and there are ones that sneak up on you, seemingly camouflaged from wary eyes.

Regardless, officials with The Hartford say potholes are the bane of many a commuter.

Have a particular one that has earned your wrath? Sic the pothole patrol on it.

The Hartford will foot the bill next week, to the tune of $8,000, for city crews to fix potholes in what company representatives said was a way to give back to the community. And they want drivers to go to a website where they can name their most loathed pothole.

Kathy Bromage, a vice president and chief marketing officer for The Hartford, said the pothole that gets the most votes is guaranteed to get filled.

The company's 12,000 Connecticut employees got first crack at calling out a pothole, and photos of six are under the Hartford section of the website, www.hartfordauto.com/potholepatrol.

"The whole idea is to do something good for the city," Bromage said.

Jim MacPherson, a spokesman for AAA in the state, said the post-winter thaw is the worst time for potholes.

"But there are potholes out there," MacPherson said. "I certainly play the dodge-em game."

Potholes can cause serious damage to tires and rims. They usually rank in the top five reasons for roadside assistance calls, he said.

The Hartford sponsored one-day pothole patrols in Aurora and Evanston, Ill., earlier this month and later will move the program to Tucson and Phoenix.

But for those who worry that an insurance company has suddenly been overcome by altruism, there is an upside for The Hartford. In the long run, fewer potholes means safer driving conditions, fewer accidents and fewer claims.

The document outlining the program approved by the city council at 16 pages big enough to fill some potholes says The Hartford is offering the assistance "in exchange for certain publicity and branding opportunities."

A kickoff event will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at city hall. The company's name will be put on the trucks doing the work and those who go to the website are offered a chance to get an insurance quote.

"To us the best things are win-win," Bromage said. "It should be good for The Hartford, it should be good for those who live and work in the city."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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