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How to claim for pothole damage

The average cost of a pothole compensation claim reaches £2,700

Potholes cost Britain millions of pounds each year in compensation claims and repairs, and the cost is rising all the time.

New data from Admiral shows the average value of a pothole-related compensation claim increased by 55% between 2016 and 2020, going from £1,700 to £2,700 respectively.

Following the Beast from the East in 2018, Admiral saw a spike in pothole-related claims due to the cold weather. The recent freezing temperatures and icy conditions are likely to result in more potholes on UK roads this year too.

March is a particularly heavy time for pothole problems. According to Admiral, 13% of compensation claims take place during the month, which is more than any other.

Pesky potholes

With pothole damage proving increasingly costly, it’s not surprising that many motorists are starting to become more concerned about this issue.

In fact, 75% of motorists now see potholes as a bigger concern than they did three years ago, according to new research by road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart (Feb, 2021). 

The data shows 89% of motorists have been affected by potholes over the last year, with 31% changing their route to avoid a hole in the road. Meanwhile, more than half (54%) have taken action to avoid hitting a pothole, such as breaking hard or steering away. 

In England, the government has developed a Pothole Action Fund, with £50 million being allocated for 2020/21 to either fix or prevent potholes from forming.

How to claim for pothole damage

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

Here’s our step-by-step 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. Who’s responsible? The next step is to work out who maintains the road; different authorities are responsible for maintaining certain types of roads. For example, local roads, B roads and some smaller A roads are 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. Reporting 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? Is the council’s offer acceptable and does it cover 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
  6. Claiming through insurance – If you have comprehensive cover you can claim for pothole damage on your insurance. However, it’s worth considering the cost of the damage as well as your excess payments and if the claim will affect your No Claims Bonus.

Claiming for pothole damage on your car insurance 

If you do decide to claim through your car insurance, you won't be alone. Admiral deals with hundreds of pothole-related claims every month. And just like the rise in the cost of compensation claims, our claims team has also seen a rise. 

Despite lockdown restrictions in place throughout the UK for much of 2020, the number of pothole-related claims increased by 20% last year compared to 2019, showing the ongoing and increasing problems that potholes cause across British roads.

Lorna Connelly, head of 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, 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,” Connelly adds.