Motor Insurance

How to claim for pothole damage as breakdowns soar by 20 percent

Potholes are so bad they could be fatal to some on Britain's roads, the AA said.

It issued the warning after it emerged pothole-related breakdowns in July soared by nearly a fifth year-on-year.

The AA received 50,079 callouts to stranded vehicles due to faults associated with potholes last month, compared to 41,790 the year before. The almost 20% uplift is the highest July figure since 2018.

Driving into potholes can damage a car's suspension, tyres and steering, causing problems such as damaged shock absorbers, wonky tyres and broken suspension.

The AA said more funding was needed for local roads.

The cost of repairing pothole-plagues roads in England and Wales is estimated to be £14 billion.

The Government's Potholes Fund has been risen by £200 million to £700 million for the current financial year.

The rise in incidents could be down to July's wet weather, making potholes harder to see, but also reducing the number of repairs councils could make.

Shaun Davies, who chairs the Local Government Association, said a long-term programme was needed to catch up with the road repairs.

He said: "Decades of reductions in funding from central government to local road repair budgets has left councils facing the biggest ever annual pothole repair backlog."

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy at the AA, said: "July's rainfall caused more headaches for drivers with tyres, suspensions and steering mechanisms all being damaged as the rain and puddles hid the potholes lurking underneath.

"Councils would've been hoping for a dry summer so they could get as much repair work carried out before the real autumn and winter weather hits. They will now be under more pressure to get their planned works completed before the weather really turns against them.

"With 2023 looking to be one of the worst years on record for pothole damage, we need to see more investment in local roads maintenance funding.

"As well as the financial damage to vehicles, at this time of year we also see more cyclists and motorbike riders on the roads, where the damage can sadly be fatal."

The Department for Transport said it was the local authorities' responsibility to fix potholes.

A spokesman said: "To help them do that we're investing more than £5 billion from 2020 to 2025, with an extra £200 million announced at the Budget in March to resurface roads up and down the country.

"We've also brought in new rules to clamp down on utility companies leaving potholes behind after carrying out street works."

How to claim for pothole damage

Compensation may be available if you believe a pothole damaged your vehicle. Depending on which type of road the incident took place on you may need to get in touch with your local authority or Highways England, Traffic Scotland or Traffic Wales. Firstly get the following details:

  • What the damage was
  • Why the road organisation was responsible
  • When it happened (time and date)
  • Where it happened - as well as the road name look for the nearest post number or feature that will identify the spot.

Then you will want to collect evidence to support the claim:

  • Take photographs of the hole.
  • Measure its size - if safe to do so (remember it is illegal to walk on the motorway).
  • Get repair quotes - and if you must fix it before hearing back from the local authority keep your receipts.
  • Report the pothole to the local authority - this way they know it exists. Sometimes a council or highways organisation could reject a claim because they weren't aware of the pothole. To find the best place to do this, click here.
  • Contact the relevant authority and make the compensation claim.

Who to contact


A-roads and motorways: Motorways are managed by Highways England and often dual carriageways and major A-roads are dealt with by Highways England too. You can find out here.

London red routes: These are operated by Transport for London. You can check if the road is a red route here.

Other English roads: Including B-roads and residential streets, are managed by the local council. If you're not sure of the council name for the area, use a nearby postcode and enter it into this website.

Scotland A roads and motorways: Traffic Scotland will be responsible for these roads.

Other Scottish roads: Like in England and Wales, B-roads, residential streets and other minor roads are managed by the local authority. You can find individual contact details here.


A-roads and motorways: Traffic Wales will usually be in charge of these roads. You can check and find their contact details here.

Other Welsh roads: B-roads, residential streets and other minor routes will be managed by the local authority. Find out which council the area is covered by here and contact them directly.

Northern Ireland

All classifications of roads are covered by the Department for Infrastructure. You can apply online to claim compensation here.

Private roads

Sometimes damage will be caused driving on a private road. Follow the same steps as above but instead of claiming from the local authority you will need to claim on the road owner's public liability insurance - if they have it.

Unfortunately this isn't a legal requirement and it may be more difficult to claim this way.

Pothole damage claim on car insurance

You can claim on your car insurance for damage caused by a pothole if you have a comprehensive policy and you can prove the damage was caused by a pothole.

However, you may wish to try the compensation route first because insurance policies usually have an excess that needs paying, and it may also affect your no-claims bonus.

If the damage is not going to cost too much you may decide it is not cost effective to claim on your insurance.

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Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.


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