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Don’t rely on a council payout for pothole damage

by Paul Baxter | 21st June 2024

Category: Car insurance

Almost all of us are used to encountering a pothole when driving as the issue of poorly maintenance blights much of the UK’s road network. According to our recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request to UK councils, the number of drivers receiving compensation for pothole-related car damage from local councils surged by 82% last year. However, despite this increase, most claims continue to be rejected.

The FOI, which involved responses from 50 councils across the UK, revealed that 6,243 motorists were compensated for vehicle damage caused by potholes or poor road conditions, a significant rise from the previous year's figures. This marks more than a twofold increase from 2019 when only 3,043 payouts were made. In total, councils paid out £1.075 million in compensation last year.

However, the data also highlights a less encouraging trend: around 65% of the claims were rejected, with 11,413 claims turned down. This suggests that while more drivers are seeking compensation, the majority are unsuccessful.

The issue of potholes is pervasive. The councils responding to the FOI reported nearly 300,000 potholes last year and spent £52.45 million on repairs. Despite these efforts, the sheer volume of reports indicates that pothole problems persist and continue to affect motorists across the country.

Driven by frustration of facing damaged roads on a daily basis, separate research conducted by ourselves amongst motorists found that one in 20 Brits have taken matters into their own hands and attempted to fill in potholes themselves or with the help of neighbours.

There’s no doubt that poorly maintained roads are a significant issue for everyone. Drivers regularly suffer damage to their cars and have to cover the repair costs themselves. Unfortunately our FOI request has shown that motorists cannot depend on council compensation due to the high rejection rate of claims, which underlines the need for comprehensive car insurance to help cover repair bills. Badly maintained roads also make it difficult for motorists to drive in an environmentally conscious way.

Despite the low claim rate, we still encourage all motorists to continue to report potholes to their local councils either via the GOV.UK website in England and Wales or via mygov.scot and nidirect in Scotland and Northern Ireland.