Following the harsh winter weather, drivers are being warned of an enormous increase in the number of potholes that are appearing on UK roads. This article explains why potholes are a problem and how to file a pothole damage claim.
Motor insurer Admiral recently announced that pothole claims have increased by a third (34%) since 2016. It is warning that December’s icy snap could cause even more cracks to open up in Britain’s roads – echoing the fall out of ‘Beast from the East’ in 2018, when plummeting temperatures caused pothole claims to surge by 102%.
The company also revealed that more than a third (36%) of pothole-related claims occur between January and March – 43% higher than any other time of the year – whilst repair bills have increased by an average of 16% over the last 6 years, likely linked to the more complicated nature of today’s vehicles and a general increase in parts costs.
Whilst there is no guarantee you’ll be able to recover any money if your car is damaged on a British road, we believe it’s worth a shot. Find out below everything you need to know about making a claim and our top tips for avoiding pothole damage.
What causes potholes?
Potholes are formed when water seeps into existing small cracks in the road surface, which then freezes and expands in the cold weather. When the weather gets warmer, the frozen water evaporates, causing gaps in the surface that get broken down by traffic.
Driving over a deep pothole, even at a low speed, can cause a whole host of damage to our vehicles including punctured or burst tyres, contorted wheels, broken suspension springs or misaligned steering. All of these issues also increase the risk of us being involved in a serious accident.
How to file a pothole damage claim
Here’s how to get compensation for pothole damage:
- Gather your evidence. Make a note of the pothole’s location, the time and date you hit it and take a photo if it’s safe to do so. Then, take your vehicle to a garage to have the damage assessed, and get the mechanic’s report in writing – you’ll need this when filing your claim.
- Find out who is responsible by checking the Gov.uk website. Local roads, B roads, and some smaller A roads are typically maintained by local councils.
- Report it. Once you know who’s responsible, you’ll need to file a claim – see if the appropriate body has a template you can fill out. Include as much information as possible, such as the mechanic’s report and repair costs, along with any photos.
Making a claim under your car insurance
If you have comprehensive motor insurance, you can file a claim for pothole damage. Always check the process with your insurer before having the work carried out and remember that any claims could affect your no-claims bonus. You’d also need to account for any excess contributions.
Have you received an offer?
Check to see if the council’s offer is acceptable and covers your costs. If it doesn’t, keep persisting. If the council or Highways Agency fails to keep the road in a reasonable state of repair, you have a right to reasonable compensation.
You’ll have a better chance of receiving a settlement if the pothole has already been reported but the council has failed to act.
Escalating a claim
If you believe your claim has been unfairly rejected, you can seek legal advice or file a case in court – but bear in mind these are time-consuming options that are only likely to be worthwhile if the repair bill is significant.
How to avoid pothole damage
Aside from reporting potholes that you notice, the only way to avoid pothole damage is to drive cautiously.
At WSG we suggest:
- 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 vehicle
- Keeping a grip on your steering wheel – avoid veering off the side of the road by keeping your hands firmly on your wheel