Winter is the season of snow, woolly clothes and — at least on poorly-kept UK roads — potholes.
All motorists will know the struggles of trying to avoid potholes, but sometimes they’re either impossible to get around or go unnoticed. This can result in a bit of discomfort at best, and plenty of damage to your car at the worst.
We take a look at how you can report a pothole, and should you pick up damage, how you can claim money to cover the repair costs.
Why do potholes form?
Potholes: How are they formed, how can I report them and how can I claim for damage?
Potholes are most commonly created when water creeps into the cracks in the roads and freezes. The expansion and contraction of water moves the asphalt around, resulting in the asphalt weakening. The stress of vehicles moving over the road eventually causes the asphalt to give way, thus forming a hole.
Although potholes can form at any time, colder temperatures make them much more likely during the winter.
What can a pothole do to my car?
The uneven, sudden drop of a pothole puts a lot of stress on a vehicle’s tyres and suspension. As tough as modern cars are, there’s a chance a pothole could damage a tyre to the point of puncture, add excess wear to suspension components or break them entirely. Extreme holes could even damage alloy wheels and components underneath a vehicle.
How can I report a pothole?
If you’re looking to report a pothole on a local road, you should contact the relevant council and inform them of the location of the hole.
As for A-roads and motorways, the Highways Agency must be notified by calling 0300 123 5000.
How can I claim for damage costs?
At the risk of sounding like an insurance advert — should your car be damaged due to going over a pothole, you could be entitled to compensation.
If the pothole has been previously reported, you’re more likely to receive some compensation that if it has not. Councils have a statutory defence that they cannot be held liable for defects they’re unaware of.
To increase your chances of a payout, there’s a number of steps you can take before making a claim:
- Make notes — write down key details, such as location, time of the incident, and the size and depth of the pothole if possible. You should also take a photograph as evidence.
- Witnesses — if anyone else has seen the incident, get details from them. It could help your claim.
- Get repair quotes — having accurate quotes for repair bills could help to ensure you get as much of the damage repairs covered as possible in a claim.
- Research — before making a claim, you should check to see what your council is and isn’t liable for.
To make a claim for pothole damage, contact the local council for local roads and the Highways Agency for A-roads and motorways. Providing quotes for repairs and a valid MOT certificate for your vehicle when contacting, as well as images, can help your claim.
Can I claim pothole damage on my insurance?
Your insurer may provide cover for pothole damage, especially more likely if you have a comprehensive policy. It’s worth checking your policy documents and contacting your insurer before making a claim.