Britons billed average of £142 to repair car damage caused by potholes

A third of drivers have suffered pothole damage which required repair work and the typical bill has hit nearly £150

  • Some 32% of drivers polled by Citroen said their cars have been damaged by potholes
  • One in ten have been handed pothole-related repairs bills in excess of £250
  • Admiral warns that March is the month when most suffer crater-related issued
  • The Government recently cut budgets for pothole repairs on local roads 

Potholes are one of the biggest scourges to British drivers, with crater-riddled roads not just resulting in uncomfortable journeys but painful impacts on their bank accounts.

Average repair bills linked to vehicle damage caused by potholes costs more than £140, with more than one in ten having to hand over in excess of £250 to have their motor fixed, a new study suggests. 

Almost a third of all motorists polled by Citroen UK said they’ve had to take their car to a garage to be fixed after clattering through a pothole in the past.

Cost of careering through a crater: Around a third of drivers in Britain have had to have their cars fixed after hitting a pothole, according to Citroen UK

In a survey of 2,000 UK drivers, 32 per cent said their car had been damaged after hitting a pothole. 

The average repair cost for the damage was £141.95, although 11 per cent of the licence holders polled said they had spent more than £251 on getting their car back on the road.

Nearly a quarter of those with vehicle damage said they had tried to claim back the cost of the repairs from their local council, while 42 per cent of the motorists quizzed said they wished their vehicle had better suspension to help deal with the rougher roads in the UK.

According to the latest Asphalt Industry Alliance ALARM report, local authorities in England and Wales paid out £8.1million in road-related compensation to drivers in 2019/2020, with £5.9million – almost three quarters of the total spend – of that being for damage to their vehicles caused by potholes. 

The ALARM report found that while a pothole is filled in England and Wales every 21 seconds, authorities face an annual budget fall of £826.6million, with nine per cent of the road network in poor condition and likely to require maintenance in the next 12 months. 

Councils in 2019/2020 forked out almost £6m to drivers in pothole-related compensation claims due to vehicle damage caused by crater in their roads

Councils in 2019/2020 forked out almost £6m to drivers in pothole-related compensation claims due to vehicle damage caused by crater in their roads

Eurig Druce, managing director of Citroen UK, said: ‘It is concerning to find that potholes have caused damage to nearly a third of drivers’ cars across England and Wales.’

He added that local authorities currently ‘have a lot of issues to solve’ – not least due to the effects of the pandemic – and it will ‘take time’ for councils to repair the nation’s pothole-riddled local roads.

In the meantime, local authorities in England (excluding London) paid around £5.3million in pothole compensation and in the capital alone some £370,000 was handed over to drivers whose vehicles were battered by craters in the council’s tarmac.

Around £188,000 in pothole-related compensation was handed out to motorists in Wales in the same financial year, says AIA.

Motorists need to be most aware of potholes THIS MONTH

A recent report by insurer Admiral said that March is the one month when most drivers make claims for vehicle damage as a result of failing to avoid a pothole.

Some 13 per cent of all claims over a year are made by motorists in the third month, historical data held by the insurance firm shows.

And the number of claims for damage to vehicles caused by potholes has also increased by almost 30 per cent since 2016, Admiral claims. 

Despite potholes being a major headache for motorists - especially on local roads - the Government's road maintenance budgets have recently been slashed

Despite potholes being a major headache for motorists – especially on local roads – the Government’s road maintenance budgets have recently been slashed

In England, the Government has developed a dedicated Pothole Action Fund to either fix or prevent potholes from forming on local routes.

The funding is allocated by a formula, and shared to authorities in England, outside of London.

In February 2021, the Department for Transport allocated £500million for 2021 to 2022 to councils via the fund.

However, this half a billion pounds was part of an overall spending cut on road maintenance budgets that will see councils miss out on £375million they had been promised by ministers.

The DfT told This is Money that a spending review conducted on 25 November 2020 had ‘rightly prioritised the response to Covid-19, support jobs and supporting families at this incredibly difficult time’ and therefore seen local road upkeep funds trimmed.

As a result, the government has committed £1.125billion for local road maintenance in the financial year 2021/22, down from the £1.5billion initially promised. 

How to claim compensation for pothole damage to your car

Although there is no guarantee that motorists will be able to claim any money back if their car is damaged, here is how to make a compensation claim 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 as you’ll need this when making your case. 

Remember, your case rests on the evidence you collect from the person you’re making a claim from so collect as much information as possible.

2. Who’s responsible? The next step is to work out who maintains the road as 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. 

If you believe the council is responsible, you’ll need to prove they’ve been negligent which is difficult. 

Asking for copies of highway maintenance schedules and reports of incidents within 14 days of the accident will help to demonstrate that either the highway hasn’t been properly maintained or that a reported pothole problem hasn’t been addressed. 

It’s important to have the evidence which shows if the council had acted, the incident wouldn’t have occurred.

3. Reporting it: Now you know who’s in charge you’ll need to lodge a formal 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, does it cover your costs? If not, go back to the council. 

You have a right to fair 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.


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