How to make a claim if your car is damaged by a pothole
It’s a sickening feeling. You’re driving along and your car hits a pothole, making an expensive-sounding noise.
Drivers can face eyewatering bills for damage to their cars caused by hitting potholes. But you may be able to claim the money back for your repairs from the council or other authority responsible for the road.
Here’s what to do if your car is damaged by a pothole or other road defect:
Check for damage
The AA advises drivers to pull over as soon as it is safe and check for damage to your wheels and tyres.
But not all damage is easily noticable. Vibrations, off-centre steering or the car pulling to one side are all signs your car has sustained damage. Get it checked by the garage or a tyre specialist
Keep a record
Take notes, sketches, and photographs of the scene and the pothole, but make sure it is safe.
The AA suggests using a familiar object in your photo, like a shoe or drinks can, to give a sense of scale.
Also jot down the location of the pothole: the road name, town or nearest town, and its position in the road.
Contact details of any witnesses will also help your case.
Report the pothole
Whether you intend to make a claim for damage or not, your first priority should be to report the pothole to the council so the authority can then arrange repairs and prevent any other similar incidents.
Motorways and A roads in England are managed by Highways England and in Wales by Traffic Wales. You can also report potholes in Scotland and Northern Ireland online.
Repair your car
The AA said it's a good idea to get several quotes first, and keep all quotes, invoices and receipts and take copies to support your claim.
Make your claim
Write to the council responsible for the road with all the details you’ve collected, including copies of your quotes, invoices and receipts.
Northumberland County Council states: “You need to write into the insurance team at the address given below, or email the insurance mailbox.“Details must include your full name, date of birth and national insurance number. For any motoring incidents, we will also require copies of evidence of your car ownership, tax disc and MOT certificate.“Please provide a full explanation and details of the incident that has occurred and any damage suffered, along with photographic evidence where possible, and two estimates of the value of work required to amend the damage. It is important you provide the precise location of the incident and the date and time.“Where it is necessary for you to make an immediate repair, e.g. replace a tyre, we also require you to retain the damaged item for inspection by ourselves or our insurance company.”
The council also warns it will prosecute anyone found to have submitted a fraudulent claim.
Who do I contact?
Northumberland County Council asks people making a claim to email [email protected] can also apply in writing to:Insurance TeamFinance GroupNorthumberland County CouncilCounty HallMorpethNorthumberlandNE61 2EFFax: (01670) 626039
Will I win?
The AA cautions that although you might be able to claim for the cost of any repairs, it’s important to understand that the relevant highway authority does have a defence: They can’t be held responsible for a pothole they didn’t know about, either because it hadn’t been reported to them, or because it wasn’t picked up by them during their regular checks.
What can I do if I don’t win?
You can make an appeal. All councils have to operate a formal system of road inspection and repair, covering how often roads are inspected, the size of damage to be repaired and how quickly repairs should be carried out.
If your claim’s rejected and you feel this is unfair, you can ask to see details of the council's road inspection reports and attempt a reclaim.
If the damage is very expensive, have a word with your insurance company or seek legal advice.