Pothole pay outs ‘tip of the iceberg’

John Topping with potholes on Ash Bank Road.  (130225M2a)
John Topping with potholes on Ash Bank Road. (130225M2a)

Less than six per cent of insurance claims submitted to the council last year were paid out to residents whose cars were damaged by potholes.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by the Gazette revealed only two out of 36 claims for pothole damage made to North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) in the HG4 postcode were paid back last year.

John Topping, of Bellman Walk – whose £150 claim for breaking the spring on his car due to a pothole on Clotherholme Road was rejected by the council – told the Gazette: “Not only are we paying through our taxes for NYCC to maintain the road system, we are subsidising them by their appalling behaviour in preventing legitimate claims for pothole damage.”

Mr Topping, 63, said he would have to take NYCC to a small claims court if he wanted to pursue the insurance claim.

“Who has got the time and money to take them to court?” he said.

The FOI submitted to the Gazette showed 34 outstanding and ongoing claims for the period January 1 2012 and January 31 2013.

Mr Topping submitted his own FOI to assess how many claims had been paid out over an 18 month period in Ripon city centre. The FOI revealed under six per cent of claims made in the city from June 30 2011 and December 31 2012 were paid back to people who faced insurance fees for vehicle repairs after driving over potholes.

“The fact that NYCC highlighted that it has only paid one out of 18 claims for damage done by potholes in the central area of Ripon is only the tip of the iceberg as far as I am concerned and no big surprise,” said Mr Topping.

County Coun and Ripon city coun Bernard Bateman, who spent £25,000 of his county council funding on fixing potholes across the city, urged people to submit their claims to the council, despite the low success rate. “

“I would absolutely still encourage people to claim if they feel they have a justifiable case,” he told the Gazette.

An NYCC spokesman said: “We have a very robust policy relating to insurance claims and will defend them wherever possible. It takes time to establish the facts surrounding a particular claim and our primary concern is ensuring that we protect the public finances so that we are spending our money on maintenance and not on paying out claims.”

l For more information on pothole claims visit: www.northyorks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=18264