How to claim for pothole damage

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pothole in road

Driving over a deep pothole, even at low speed, can cause damage to your vehicle. 

Tyres, alloy wheels, steering alignment, wheel tracking and balancing and suspension can all be affected. And as newer cars contain more advanced technology, repairs can be more costly to fix.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to claim any money back if your car is damaged on a British road, but we think it’s worth a try.

Below we explain why potholes are a problem and how to claim for pothole damage.

The pothole problem

Potholes are caused when water seeps into a small surface crack that can expand and create a hole. When it's especially cold, these cracks can be exacerbated by the water freezing and then thawing.

In the UK, we experience cold and wet winters, meaning they're common on our roads. The number of pothole-related claims doubled in December 2022 following the cold weather. It's no surprise then that January to March are when 36% of our pothole claims occur.

March is a particularly heavy time for pothole problems, with 13% of compensation claims made during the month, which is more than any other.

Potholes cost Britain millions of pounds each year in compensation claims and repairs, and the cost is rising all the time. Our data shows the average cost of pothole damage related claims increased by 29% in 2023.

How to claim for pothole damage

Here’s our guide on claiming compensation for pothole damage:

  1. collect your evidence – make a note of the pothole’s location, the time and date you hit it and get a photo if it’s safe to do so. Then take your car to a garage for the damage to be assessed and get the mechanic’s report in writing; you’ll need this when making your case
  2. find out who’s responsible – you need to know who maintains the road as different authorities are responsible. For example, local roads, B roads and some smaller A roads are generally maintained by the local councils in England, Wales and Scotland. See Money Saving Expert’s full list of who’s in charge of what
  3. report it – now you know who’s in charge you’ll need to make a claim – see if the relevant body has a template you can fill in. Include as much information as possible, including the mechanic’s report and repair costs and any photos you’ve taken
  4. got an offer? – check if the council’s offer is acceptable and whether it covers your costs. If not, be persistent and go back to the council. You have a right to reasonable compensation if the council or Highways Agency has failed in its duty to keep the road in a fair state of repair. You also stand a better chance of settlement if the pothole has already been reported and the council hasn’t acted
  5. offer rejected? – if you feel your claim has been unfairly rejected you can seek legal advice or make a case through the courts. However, this could be a time-consuming process and is likely to be worthwhile only if the repair bill is considerable

Claiming for pothole damage on your car insurance 

If you have comprehensive car cover you can claim for pothole damage on your insurance.

However, it’s worth considering the cost of the damage, your excess payments and if the claim will affect your No Claims Bonus

Adam Gavin, Head of Motor Claims at Admiral, says: “Our data shows that potholes continue to cause problems for many motorists, and the cost of repairs is increasing significantly as vehicles become more advanced. Not only can pothole-related damage be dangerous and costly, but it can also be difficult to claim compensation from the authority responsible for the road.”

When it comes to claiming for pothole damage on your car insurance, a comprehensive policy offers the more substantial cover.

“Unfortunately, if your car gets damaged on a British road from a pothole, unless you have comprehensive cover, you might not be able to claim on your insurance,” Gavin adds.

How to prevent pothole damage

Other than reporting potholes you spot, the only way to prevent pothole damage is to be vigilant and drive carefully. We recommend:

  • maintaining your tyres – properly inflated tyres can help provide protection when driving over a pothole as it lowers the chance of a puncture
  • driving slowly over potholes – high-speed impact increases the chance of seriously damaging your car
  • keeping a grip on your steering wheel – avoid veering off the side of the road by keeping your hands firmly on your wheel

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