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Last updated: 14 September 2021
Pothole damage can be one of the most frustrating ways to damage your car as it is notoriously difficult to make an insurance claim with this type of damage because it's difficult to assign blame. However, there are ways to claim back the cost of repairs to your vehicle from the council. This helpful, step by step guide will take you through the process.
How is a pothole formed?
Potholes form when water seeps through cracks in the tarmac and into the foundations of the road. In cold weather conditions, the water can freeze, expanding the tarmac and causing it to collapse underneath traffic.
What does pothole damage mean?
There is no single classification for a pothole; they are defined by measurement of depth in mm, but each council has its own criteria. In general it is at least 40mm. Some councils define them by width too, which is often 300mm. If they don't fit the specific requirements, they are labeled “carriageway defect” and in this case, it won't be possible to make a claim for pothole damage.
How do I claim pothole damage?
There are a number of steps that need to be taken in order for you to claim pothole damage.
- Evidence - The first thing to do, as with any road traffic incident, is to gather evidence that will support your claim. This means taking photos of the pothole, but also measuring its width and depth. Make a note of the exact time and day you hit the pothole, and record any evidence of damage.
- Report - Whether or not you will end up claiming for damages you should always report the pothole to the council so that it can be fixed quickly. How to do this varies from council to council, some will use a website called fixmystreet.com , others require you to report it directly.
- Repair - Compare quotes from different garages on how much it will cost for you to repair your car. Keep records of these quotes in order to support your claim.
- Claim – Once you've done these you can process your claim form. To do this you will need to contact the highway authority if the pothole was on a motorway, or your local authority (i.e local council) if the incident occurred on any other public road. The more details you can give, including photos, and the cheaper you can get the repairs done, the more likely you are to have a successful claim for compensation. You will then have to wait for the local authority to get back to you on the matter.
What happens if they reject my claim?
Generally, if your pothole claim has been rejected there isn't very much that you can do. The only option you have left at this stage is to make a claim through small claims court, if you feel you have been unjustly rejected.
Can I claim through my car insurance?
You can claim for pothole damage through your car insurance provider. However, this isn't advised because it could affect your no claims bonus and increase your premium rate, meaning overall it could be more expensive than just paying for the repairs yourself. On a similar note, check how much your excess is before you make a claim, because it might be more than the actual repairs.
What can I do to protect my car from potholes?
There are a number of steps you can take before you encounter potholes to limit the amount of damage they can cause:
- Careful driving: The most common reason cars are damaged by potholes is because people are not sticking to the speed limit, or not paying enough attention to the road. By driving carefully you have the best chance of avoiding damage
- Puddles: Puddles on the road are normally indicative of a pothole that has been filled up with water. Try to avoid driving over these, of course only if you can do so safely.
- Grip: By keeping control of your steeling wheel, you can mitigate any jolts that may occur from driving over a pothole.
- Tyres: Having a good tread on your tyres can mean they are less likely to burst if you hit a pothole. Regularly check your tyres to make sure they are properly inflated and have them replaced if they lose tread.