More pothole related claims are made in March than any other month, new research has revealed.
Some 13 per cent of all claims to cover the cost of repairs for damage caused to vehicles by craters in the road are made by motorists in the third month of the year.
The number of claims for damage to vehicles caused by potholes has also increased by almost 30 per cent since 2016, according to data from Admiral.
Problem potholes: There has been a rise in pothole claims made on car insurance – increasing 30% since 2016
The insurer is warning drivers to pay extra attention on roads to avoid costly damage to their vehicles.
The recent freezing temperatures and icy weather is likely to result in more potholes on the roads. It points out that after the Beast from the East in 2018, there was a spike in pothole related claims.
A pothole forms when water seeps into existing small cracks in the surface of the roads and then freezes and expands in the cold weather.
The frozen water then evaporates during the warmer weather, causing gaps in the surface which get broken-down by-passing traffic.
The damage can be substantial. The average repair bill of a pothole-related claim has increased by more than 55 per cent last year compared to 2016.
The average value of damage caused by pothole claims in 2020 was £2,700, compared to £1,700 just four years earlier.
Despite lockdown restrictions in place throughout the UK for much of 2020, the number of pothole-related claims increased by 20 per cent last year compared to 2019 showing the ongoing and increasing problems that potholes cause across major roads across Britain.
Driving over a deep pothole, even at a low speed, can cause damage to a vehicle’s tyres, alloy wheels, steering alignment, wheel tracking and balancing and suspension.
When the steering is severely damaged it can also make it difficult for the driver to control the vehicle, which could increase the risk of accidents.
As newer cars are fitted with more advanced technology, designed to help detect a problem with the vehicle, the costs to repair them become more expensive if damaged.
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.
|Area||Investment (pothole action fund)||Number of potholes it should fix
or stop from forming (approx. numbers)
|South East of England||£108million||2million|
|Yorkshire and Humber||£72million||1.3million|
|East of England||£88million||1.6million|
Lorna Connelly, head of claims at Admiral, said: ‘Our data shows that potholes continue to cause problems for many motorists on UK roads, 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.
‘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.
‘To see if you can claim compensation for the damage, you’ll need to find out who’s responsible for maintaining the road where the incident took place and you’ll also need to collect as much information as possible.
‘If you must make an essential journey, stay alert and keep a lookout for any potholes that might have formed in the road.’
If you have driven over a pothole that has damaged your car, ensure you take photos of it
How to claim compensation for pothole damage
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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