Potholes are one of the biggest annoyances on the roads for UK drivers, not only are they uncomfortable to drive they can often cause serious damage to your car.

Driving over a deep pothole, even at a low speed, can cause damage to a vehicle’s tyres, alloy wheels, steering alignment, wheel tracking and balancing and suspension.

When the steering is severely damaged it can also make it difficult for the driver to control the vehicle, which could increase the risk of accidents.

But can you claim for the damages caused by potholes from your car insurance?

Can you claim for pothole damage on your car insurance?

On most occasions, the answer will be yes, but it is worth considering whether it is worth risking your insurer ruling you were at fault for the incident, and therefore hitting you with an excess charge.

Lorna Connelly, Head of Claims at Admiral, said: “Pothole pockets can quickly open up, especially if the weather has been bad, which means they might not have been there the last time you took that route.

“Keep a sharp eye and slow down – swerving can be more dangerous. If you think you’ve hit a hum-dinger, get out and check for damage at the safest opportunity. Take photos of the pothole and the damage to your car and consider taking your vehicle to a mechanic to check for damage.

“If you have Comprehensive cover, claiming for pothole damage through your insurer should be a straightforward process, but it can affect your no claims bonus and you may need to pay an excess.

“However, if your car gets damaged on a British road from a pothole, unless you have comprehensive cover, you might not be able to claim on your insurance.   

“You can always try to claim compensation for any damage caused to your car, through whoever is responsible for the road you were driving on, although there is no guarantee you will be successful.

“This can be a tricky process, though, so we’ve created a step-by-step guide explaining how to claim compensation for pothole damage.

“It’s great that there is funding committed to fixing Britain’s potholes – we know what a huge nuisance they are for our customers. However, keeping on top of them is a challenge for local authorities so it’s always best stay alert and keep a lookout for any potholes that might have popped up.”

How to claim compensation for pothole damage

Admiral has created a step-by-step guide explaining how to claim compensation for pothole damage from either the local council or your insurer.

Collect your evidence

Make a note of the pothole’s location, the time and date you hit it and get a photo, if it’s safe to do so. Then take your car to a garage for the damage to be assessed and get the mechanic’s report in writing; you’ll need this when making your case. Remember, your case rests on the evidence you collect from the person you’re making a claim from so collect as much information as possible.

Who is responsible?

The next step is to work out who maintains the road; different authorities are responsible for maintaining certain types of roads. For example local roads, B roads and some smaller A roads are maintained by the local councils in England, Wales and Scotland. If you believe the council is responsible, you’ll need to prove they’ve been negligent which is difficult. Asking for copies of highway maintenance schedules and reports of incidents (within 14 days of the accident) will help to demonstrate that either the highway hasn’t been properly maintained or that a reported pothole problem hasn’t been addressed. It’s important to have the evidence which shows if the council had acted, the incident wouldn’t have occurred.

Report it

Now you know who’s in charge you’ll need to lodge a formal claim – see if the relevant body has a template you can fill in. Include as much information as possible, including the mechanic’s report and repair costs and any photos you’ve taken.

Got an offer?

Is the council’s offer acceptable, does it cover your costs? If not, go back to the council. You have a right to fair compensation if the council or Highways Agency has failed in its duty to keep the road in a fair state of repair. You also stand a better chance of settlement if the pothole has already been reported and the council hasn’t acted.

Offer rejected?

If you feel your claim has been unfairly rejected, you can seek legal advice or make a case through the courts. However, this could be a time-consuming process and is likely to be worthwhile only if the repair bill is considerable.

Claiming through insurance

If you have comprehensive cover you can claim for pothole damage on your insurance however it’s worth considering the cost of the damage as well as your excess payments and if the claim will affect your No Claims Bonus.