Potholes: the claims process

More than 1.5 million potholes were reported last year so you’re likely to come across one sooner or later. Unfortunately, potholes can ruin your tyres, damage alloys, bodywork and even cause axle misalignment, all of which costs money to fix. The good news is that as well as helping you find cheap car insurance in the UK, mustard.co.uk has some advice about how to claim for pothole damage, here’s what they have to say.

Who is responsible for repairing potholes in roads?

Responsibility lies with different authorities depending on the type of road and where it is. Motorways and main roads (A-roads) are managed by National Highways (previously Highways England), Traffic Wales or Transport Scotland.

Small roads are maintained by the appropriate local council which you can find details of at GOV.UK for England and Wales. In London, red routes are maintained by Transport for London. In Scotland, visit MyGovScot instead.

In Northern Ireland, all roads are looked after by the Department for Infrastructure.

What’s classed as a pothole?

There’s actually no official definition of a pothole and it comes down to what each managing authority decides. However, as a general rule, road defects that are at least 4 cm deep and 20 cm wide are considered potholes.

How do I make a claim for pothole damage to my car?

If your car is damaged by a pothole, you’ll need to find out which authority is responsible for its maintenance and submit a claim to them. If there’s a particular process you need to follow, this should be set out on the authority’s website but if not, it’s best to make a claim in writing.

To support your claim, it’s a good idea to provide:

  • Evidence – this should include photos of the pothole, measurements and its location. Remember – only take photos if it is safe for you to do so.
  • Details of the incident – explain what happened and include the date, location and weather conditions at the time.
  • An account of the damage – photos of the damage, a report from the garage (if possible) plus repair receipts.

It’s also worth reporting the pothole before you put in a claim. Most authorities will have a ‘report it’ tool that will let you do this quickly and easily online.

What are the chances of getting compensation for pothole damage?

Of all the claims that local councils receive, 78% are related to potholes. In fact, it’s estimated that almost £9 million was paid out in pothole compensation claims between 2020-2021.

Whether or not you’re compensated is down to the discretion of the relevant authority. In most cases, there are three possibilities:

  • You’ll be compensated for damage caused.
  • You’ll be offered partial compensation.
  • Your claim will be rejected.

If you’re not happy with the outcome, you can pursue your claim and have it heard at the small claims court, but bear in mind the time this could take.

Can I make a claim on my car insurance?

If you have comprehensive car insurance and your policy covers pothole damage, you can claim from your insurer instead.

If you decide to do this, remember that it could have an impact on your no claims bonus as it will be considered an ‘at-fault’ claim. This in turn can lead to an increase in your premium at renewal.

If you’re in two minds about claiming on your insurance, weigh up the cost of your excess compared to the cost of repairs to see if it’s worthwhile.

Compare great value car insurance

Car insurance might be an essential part of car ownership, but that doesn’t mean you should end up paying over the odds for it. That’s why at mustard.co.uk, quotes come with a Cheapest Price Guarantee*.

You can start comparing value deals from leading UK insurers right now, or to speak to a friendly expert, call 0330 022 8812.

* T&Cs apply. See mustard.co.uk for details.

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