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Council pays out more than £400,000 in insurance claims due to highway defects

01 Jun 2023 3 minute read
A pothole in the road

Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter

Cardiff Council has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on settling insurance claims relating to highway defects over the past four years.

However, the total number of property damage and personal injury claims received by the local authority in relation to highway defects has gradually decreased from 2019 to 2023.

A freedom of information (FOI) request made by the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed the statistics on the third party insurance claims made against the council.

They also showed that the single biggest amount that the council had been forced to pay out over the past four years in relation to highway defects was £20,000.

The findings come not long after Cardiff Council revealed that it had a huge task on its hands to keep the city’s roads and pavements in good condition amid significant budgetary pressures and increased demand for services.


A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “In the UK, there is a national backlog of road repairs in the region of £12bn.

“The Council inspects the highway network in line with all legislation. (The Code of Practice for Highway Maintenance Management and the requirements of the Highways Act 1980).

“Looking specifically at the figures for insurance claims in Cardiff, it shows that there has been a gradual reduction in the number of claims made and money paid out in compensation since 2019, which is encouraging.”

Cardiff Council has paid £435,462 in compensation as a result of highway defects between January, 2019, and May, 2023, according to the FOI response.

The figure paid out by the council decreased nearly every year since 2019. However, there is a deviation from the pattern in the statistics during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2021, when the amount paid by the council increased from £86,714 to £115,564.

The total number of claims received by the council as a result of highway defects between January, 2019, and May, 2023, has decreased from 373 to 155.

Increasing demand

Cardiff Council revealed at an environmental scrutiny committee meeting last month that its highways team was facing an increase in demand for its services and an increase in costs.

The local authority is also faced with the reality of having to bridge a £24 million budget gap.

A report published ahead of the meeting on Thursday, May 11, states: “It is likely that the fewer repairs and improvements will be
undertaken resulting in an [increase] in 3rd party insurance claims and customer satisfaction falling.”

Other challenges that the highways team faces include external pressures like traffic growth and changing environmental conditions.

The council spokesperson added: “The council uses the resources available to best effect by carrying out a variety of road works across the highway network including reconstruction, re-surfacing, surface patching and treatments as well as temporary repairs to potholes.

“Potholes are repaired temporarily until a long term solution can be provided – which requires more extensive patching or resurfacing of the road.

“Legitimate compensations claims are settled by the local authority. Any claims which are deemed to be fraudulent are investigated with a view of taking the matter to court.”

The FOI also revealed that the total amount of compensation paid by the council as a result of highways defects in 2022 was £101,608.

The single biggest amount paid out in third party insurance claims as a result of damage to property and personal injury in relation to highway defects in that year was £17,015.

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