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You may have been driving down a road and all of a sudden hit a hidden pothole which has now caused damage to your car. In fact, this story is becoming more common as according to an article from The Independent in April 2019, drivers in the UK are spending £4.09bn a year on car repairs caused by potholes.  

The government have pledged to fund an extra £500 million to the £2.5 billion budget 2020 for pothole repairs to local authorities. However, many roads may go amiss, which leads to eventual damage to cars.

Making a claim

If you have hit a pothole, and damaged your car, then you may be eligible to claim for repair costs. Authorities have a legal duty to maintain roads to a good standard and if they aren’t, authorities will need to pay for the damage caused. Follow our step by step guide below to build yourself a strong case when claiming:

  1. Gather evidence – If it is safe to do so, make sure you gather as much evidence of the incident as you can. This includes obtaining the measurements of the depth and width of the pothole, taking note of its position on the road and also taking photos, with an item for reference of its size. You should also note the time and date of the incident, exact location and the damage caused to the car. 
  1. Report the pothole – This step is simply your duty as a good citizen to report the pothole, regardless if you are deciding to claim or not. This will help speed up the repairs of the road, so no other cars are damaged, and will also be put on record, which may help your claim. You need to report this to the local council, but make sure you check their procedures, prior to doing so. 
  1. Repair your car – As some claims may take time to process, it’s best to start looking around and retrieving quotes from repair garages, so you can start driving your car again.. It’s also important to keep any quotes and receipts you receive, because these will be needed to support your claim. 
  1. Building a case – If you’ve decided to go ahead with making a claim, you’ll need to contact the same local council you reported the pothole to. Before you do so, you’ll also need to be aware of how often local authorities inspect and maintain the road. You can do this by submitting a Freedom of Information request. The local authority should supply the information within 20 days.

    Once this is done, you can start your claim by sending a letter or email, which includes a full description of the incident, the location, date and time and all the evidence you collected, as mentioned above. Also include photos of the pothole, the damage to your car, and any copies of receipts and quotes from the repairing garage.

    The result of your claim will depend on whether the local council has fulfilled their duty to maintain the road, in-line with Section 58 of Highways Act 1980

  1. Verdict – There are three outcomes which may occur once your claim has been evaluated:
    • The local authority accepts your claim and pays the repair costs in full.
    • The local authority offers a partial settlement figure.
    • The local authority rejects your claim.

    If they offer a partial settlement figure, it is important for you to weigh up your options and take time to think about the offer. Court cases are very time consuming and although the fee they may have offered is lower than what you’ve asked for, continuing the case to court may get expensive and potentially leave you out of pocket.

    If they reject your claim entirely, and you feel it was done so unfairly, then there’s an option to escalate the case to a small claims court. However, you will either have to do this yourself or hire a lawyer, which will of course increase the cost.

  1. What can you do if you don’t want to take it to court? – If you have considered not to take it further, you can always enquire if your car insurance policy insures you against such an event. Making a claim this way may mean you will lose any no claims bonus you have acquired and potentially cause higher premiums in future.

Invest in an Extended Warranty Policy

Potholes can cause damage to different parts of your car such as your suspension. Driving over a pothole, or poor road surfaces, doesn’t always cause damage initially. However, over a period of time it may contribute to increased wear and tear occurring on your vehicle’s components.

Protecting your vehicle with a Warranty may be a great option to safeguard yourself against unexpected, and sometimes expensive, motor repair bills. 

Warranty Direct provides a warranty which includes damage caused by wear and tear*. You can obtain a quote from Warranty Direct following this link - https://www.warrantydirect.co.uk/

*Wear & tear benefit commences 90 days from a Warranty Direct policy starting or from day 1 if you renew your policy with us.