British drivers claimed more than £4 million in compensation for damage caused by potholes over a three-year period, according to new research. Data uncovered by price comparison site GoCompare found Belfast was the UK’s pothole compensation capital, accounting for more than a quarter of the total.

Using Freedom of Information requests sent to 67 authorities, the company discovered drivers had claimed more than £4.1 million from councils and highways authorities between the beginning of 2018 and the end of 2020. But drivers in Belfast accounted for more than £1.4 million of that total.

Birmingham was a distant second, with drivers claiming more than £680,000 over the three years – including just under £115,000 last year. And Highways England, the government-run organisation in charge of England’s motorways and major A-roads, was third in the list of authorities drivers claimed most from.

Potholed Road

The figures come despite a massive investment in pothole repairs over the past few years. However, data released recently by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) suggested it would still cost councils more than £10 billion to repair all the potholes in England and Wales in one fell swoop.

That said, the AIA study also showed there has been a small improvement in roads compared with last year, with a drop in the number of roads rated ‘poor’. Nevertheless, GoCompare says the UK’s drivers reported almost 40,000 potholes last year, while councils spent around £99 million of taxpayer money repairing them.

Big pothole caused by freezing temperatures and rain

“This piece of research really highlighted the issue that is potholes – something that may seem small at first, but it actually affects a huge amount of people across the UK on a daily basis,” said Ryan Fullthorpe, motor expert at GoCompare. “The study shows that pothole damage is a common occurrence across the UK and whilst this is annoying for anyone who’s car has been affected by these – there are ways to claim for any repairs that may be needed.

“If you do intend to make a claim for pothole damage, you may not need to claim on your car insurance as you can, in some instances, claim from the local council or highway agencies. However, if you do decide to go down this route, it’s important to gather as much evidence as you can to support your claim and check to see if the offending pothole has previously been reported.

“Drivers should be aware that they can only claim from either their insurer or the council and not both, so although making a claim through an insurance policy may be a quicker route to receiving payment than from the local council, drivers have to weigh up the fact that they will have to pay an excess as insurers will deem the damage as an at fault claim and that they will also lose their no claims bonus. And regardless of claim, you should always report a pothole if you see one as they may be annoying to some drivers, but could ultimately be dangerous to others.”