Potholes, and their subsequent damage, often sneak up on motorists. From wheel alignment issues to burst tires; potholes are far from harmless for your car. So what do you do if you have damaged your vehicle due to a pothole?
We look at the options you have…
Since government and its contractors are responsible for making sure that roads are kept in a good condition, you can actually claim from them should your vehicle suffer pothole damage. There are a few hoops to jump through, but it can save you money. This is a great option for those who don't have insurance or don't want to claim. After all, potholes are something out of your control. You can only claim if you were driving on a national or municipal road, however. This means that if you suffer damage from driving on a private dirt road, you won't be able to claim. In this case, you will need to claim from your own insurance.
Claims for pothole damage on national roads go through SANRAL, the Automobile Association says. Meanwhile, claims for damage from a pothole on a municipal road go through the local municipality. In both instances, you will need to have proof that the damage was caused by a pothole. When claiming from your municipality, you will need to fill in some paperwork. According to the AA, you will also need to provide the following:
In some cases, such as when dealing with the Johannesburg Roads Agency, you will need a police affidavit. Since it is difficult to prove pothole damage a while after the incident, the AA suggests that you take photos of the damage and the guilty pothole.
Don’t rely on your memory. Return to the scene, take notes, make sketches and, if safe to do so, take photographs of the offending pothole, the association says on their global site. Make a note of exactly where the pothole was – the road name, town etc and its position in the road – as well as the contact details of anyone that saw what happened.
It is important to note that you cannot claim both from government and from your own insurers. This is emphasised by Arrive Alive in their Car Insurance blog. This may mean that you will need to provide a letter from your insurance company confirming you have not claimed from them. Make sure to also claim from the right municipality. Claiming from the wrong one will result in your claim being denied and will prolong the process of getting the claim from the right source.
National roads start with an N for their route number - such as N1, N2, etc. Municipal roads start with M - such as the M3. Regional roads start with an R for their route name, such as the R1. These roads are managed by the provincial government. You would, therefore, need to claim from the provincial government's department of transport.
Some people prefer to claim from their insurers as dealing with municipalities and government can be quite a long process. This is also the case for people who did not take pictures of the potholes and cannot get any. An example of this would be if you damage your car on a pothole in a different province to where you live. If this is the case, sometimes you will have to claim from your insurer instead. To do this, however, you first need to make sure that your insurance policy covers this kind of damage. For example, some policies exclude damage to suspension and tyres caused by potholes.
This means that they would cover damage to the body of your car, but not other parts affected by potholes. According to RoadProtect.co.za, most car insurance policies exclude pothole damage. As such, there are certain specialist products which will provide you with pothole cover. Some car insurance policies, such as that offered by the AA, offers options for pothole cover. You can also get specific tyre insurance. Check the wording of your policy to make sure there are no exclusions for pothole damage.
If it is covered, you should claim as soon as possible. You can even report the incident without claiming, in case issues crop up later due to the pothole. Many of the claims requirements for government contractors and your insurers will be the same. For example, you will need to prove a pothole caused the damage.
You can get a car repair centre to put this in writing for you. You will then go through the normal claims process for your insurer.
Are you afraid to claim because your excess is just too high? Give us a call and we will negotiate an excess that suits your pocket!