Pothole Damage – An Insurance Claim Conundrum

The number of pothole insurance claims for the first four months of 2018 already equals those placed for the entirety of last year, with an average repair bill of £1,000, data from the AA reveals.

According to their statistics it is estimated that there have been more than 4,200 claims for pothole damage by the end of April. With an estimated average repair bill of around £1,000, that comes to £4.2 million, or more than £1m per month.

Janet Connor, director of AA Insurance, said: “In most cases the damage caused by a pothole, such as a ruined tyre or two and perhaps a wheel rim, doesn’t justify making an insurance claim, due to the policy excess and the potential loss of your no claims discount. So the claims we are seeing are clearly much worse than that.”

The AA puts the average repair bill at £1,000, while according to MotorEasy’s database of 30,000 warranty customers, axle and suspension damage is one of the most common causes of repair claims in relation to pothole damage.

Last year, its most expensive suspension claim was recorded by a Range Rover Sport at £3,863. This was closely followed by £3,528 for an Audi Q7 and £2,729 for a Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Future advances in technology may help alert drivers to potential hazards such as potholes, but for now we are reliant on our own skill and judgement behind the wheel.

What Can We Do?

BHIB Councils offers the following advice to drivers on how to avoid potholes, prevent downtime and vehicle damage and increase your chances of recovering your repair costs:

  • Ensure your tyres are inflated according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Make sure you are carrying a relevant spare wheel or have a ‘run flat’ temporary repair kit, in the event of a puncture.
  • Regularly check tyres and wheels for signs of wear and damage, especially if you have encountered potholes or unexpectedly rough road surfaces during a journey.
  • Be especially vigilant on unfamiliar roads. Keep your distance from the car in front, in case they swerve or brake suddenly in order to avoid a pothole themselves.
  • Avoid causing an accident. If you see a pothole, slow down and steer around it rather than swerve or brake sharply.
  • Take photos of any damage and be sure to record your journey details and any specific recollection you may have of hitting a pothole. These details may make it possible for your insurers to make a recovery of their claims payments. If a recovery can be made, your no claims discount should not be affected.
  • Where possible, safely photograph the potholes you encounter and send them to the responsible highway authority and the Department for Transport by social media, to show them the extent of the pothole problem. Councils have a statutory defence against paying compensation for damaged cars, if they’re not aware of a pothole.

Flag it, Fund it, Fill it campaign

The AA has recently launched the Flag it, Fund it, Fill it campaign which encourages people to photograph and report potholes.

Connor said: “Potholes can appear almost overnight and it’s really important to ‘flag it’ to the highway authority responsible so that they’re aware it exists.”

“We’re also calling on the Government to ‘fund it’ by ring-fencing 2p per litre of current fuel duty to create a £1bn pothole fund, specifically for local councils so they can get on top of their pothole problem.

“With that funding, councils can then ‘fill it’ and make their local roads safe for all road users.”

The road to ruin

It has been reported that more than 24,400 miles of road are identified as needing essential maintenance in the next year, according to this year’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, published in March.

Local authorities in England and Wales report that the gap between the funds they received and the amount they actually needed to keep the carriageway in reasonable order was almost £556m – a shortfall of £3.3m for every authority. And, it would now take 14 years – up from 12 years in 2016/17 – to get local roads back into a reasonable steady state, provided adequate funds and resources were available.

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, announced in March a further £100m to help repair any potholes and other storm damage. The cash was on top of £75m in Government funding already given to councils from the Pothole Action Fund this year, as well as the additional £46m boost for highways authorities announced just before Christmas.

Source Fleet News 30.5.18