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Should you claim for pothole damage from your insurance company, or from the government?

You may have missed the memo but Arrive Alive has reminded motorists that they can claim from the government for pothole damage to their cars.

Arrive Alive says the maintenance of roads remains the responsibility of government and that it’s their duty to cough up should a motorist’s vehicle suffer damage as a result of poor road conditions.

Hitting a pothole can cause a number of wheel and tyre problems including tyre shredding, brake fluid leaks, rim buckling and damage to your suspension and steering alignment.

Who can you claim from?

You may be able to make a claim from your Comprehensive Car Insurance policy or from your policy’s Tyre & Rim and Scratch & Dent extensions – if you’ve opted to select them.

However, if you want to stay claim free and maintain your No Claims Bonus, it’s also possible to seek compensation directly from a road works authority.

In the event that your insurer pays for your repairs they may also pursue reimbursement for the cost of repairs from the relevant authority.  

How the process works

Each roads agency has their own procedures, which claimants must follow, that enable vehicle owners to seek compensation. If, for some reason, you’ve claimed from the wrong authority or failed to submit the right information, your case could be rejected or delayed. 

There are several things that need to be verified before a claim can be processed.

The most important point to consider before claiming, is whether you were driving on a national or municipal road.

For example, claims for pothole damage occurring on a national road such as the N1, N2 or N3 would need to be submitted to the SA National Roads Agency (SANRAL), which either processes claims themselves, or directs them to the specific contractor on that stretch of road.

If your car is damaged while travelling on a street in your neighbourhood, you must approach your local road authority or department of public works to find out how the process works. This might take some time and is also dependent on the efficiency of your municipal office.

Also keep in mind that claims to SANRAL are treated like regular car insurance claims and that they may dispute liability. This puts the onus on you to prove that the roadworks or potholes were specifically responsible for the damage to your car.

You’ll be asked to submit photos or surveillance video evidence clearly showing that a road defect is at fault and that your car suffered harm as a result. You’ll also be asked to provide the following documents:  

  • Your ID
  • Your driver’s license
  • The registration details of your vehicle
  • Three written quotes for repair
  • A police affidavit by the claimant
  • A letter from your insurance company confirming that the claim was not also logged to your own Car Insurance

It’s important to show that you haven’t submitted two claims for the same damage – so you may want to decide whether it’s less cumbersome to claim from your insurer, or from the relevant road works authority.

If you’d like to find out more about the various optional extras offered by insurance companies for car cover, or if you’d like advice from one of our specialist brokers, please contact us on 044 382 0550.

* This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or financial advice. 

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