Authorities paid out £13m in pothole compensation in the last four years

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Coucils and roads bodies face 145,000 claims for vehicle damage as asphalt industry warns situation is becoming critical

Councils and road authorities around Britain have paid out almost £13 million in compensation over the last four years to drivers whose vehicles have been damaged by poor road surfaces.

Motorists have received an average of £347 each for repairs to their vehicles after they were damaged by potholes and other broken road surfaces.

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According to information released under a Freedom of Information request, motorists submitted more than 145,000 compensation claims between January 2018 and October 2021, with authorities paying out in 37,366 cases - 25.7% of all claims.

In total, the 344 authorities which responded to the What Car? FOI request reported they paid out £12,991,216.81 in compensation for damage to components such as wheels, tyres and suspension.

Highways England was found to have paid out the most. The authority which oversees 4,300 miles of motorway, dual carriageway and trunk roads paid a total of £865,254.75 in compensation to 2,707 drivers - 56% of those who lodged a claim.

Behind it, Lincolnshire Council paid out £764,588. It received more claims than any other authority, with 8,810 drivers lodging complaints about damage. Of those 4,313 (49%) were successful.

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Drivers who claimed from Wiltshire Council were most likely to be successful, with the authority paying out in 86.6% of cases and reimbursing drivers to the tune of £302,911 between 2018 and 2021.

In contrast, Rotherham Borough Council paid out in just 9.3% of cases, compensating just 75 drivers over the same period but paid out far larger sums, with a total bill of £350,500.


In January the RAC reported that callouts to pothole-related damage had hit a three-year high in 2021 and it estimated that drivers were one and a half times more likely to suffer pothole damage now than in 2016.

Insurer Admiral also reported a sharp rise in the number of drivers making claims for damage caused by poor road surfaces, with 39% more claims in 2021 than in 2016.

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The research comes after the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s Alarm report warned that councils in England and Wales faced a nine-year backlog of road repairs which would cost £12 billion to put right.

What Car? editor Steve Huntingford said: “The poor state of Britain’s roads is nothing new, but recently it’s been brought into greater focus by everything from reports of celebrities filling potholes on local roads to the most recent Alarm report highlighting the vast costs and resources needed to bring our network up to standard.

“Our investigation has shown the considerable number of claims motorists have submitted up and down the country for damage caused by poor road conditions and the significant outlay local authorities have to bear to compensate motorists. This is in addition to scheduled expenditure on maintaining and repairing roads.”

What Car? Also found that while two-thirds of drivers were away that they could try to claim compensation only 10% had ever done so.

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