Highways insurance claims
In this section:

Highways insurance claims

There is currently a ten week waiting time for an initial response to all claims other than those relating to personal injury. If you would like confirmation that your claim form has been received phone 0345 155 1004.

You can make a claim to Devon County Council if you believe that our actions when maintaining the roads have been negligent and have resulted in:

  • vehicle damage
  • personal injury
  • property damage.

For a damage claim against DCC to be successful it would have to be shown that any loss or damage was caused as a result of our negligence. As the Devon highways authority we have responsibility for roads, cycleways and footways, but we are not automatically liable for every incident which occurs on them. The courts have long held that it isn’t reasonable to expect councils to repair each pothole as soon as it develops, or remove every piece of debris from the road the instant it has been deposited. As long as we can show that we have a system of inspection in place that is reasonable, no liability would attach.

If loss or damage occurs due to situations beyond our control, such as severe weather conditions, this is not normally something we can be held responsible for.

If you proceed with your claim we will undertake a full and thorough investigation for a decision to be made in respect of legal liability in accordance with the relevant highways law. This will happen regardless of the value of your claim. These investigations take a substantial amount of staff resources away from delivering highway services, and although we have a Public Liability Insurance Policy, any successful claims under £250,000 have to be met from our own funds which would otherwise go towards providing services.

Please consider carefully whether to proceed with a claim. It may be more appropriate to approach your insurance company if you have suffered a financial loss. Your insurance company may take the matter up with the local authority if they believe there is a case to answer.

How do I make a claim?

A) Use our online reporting system to see if the defect has already been reported.

If there is no current record of the defect:

  • describe the fault in as much detail as possible – include location in the highway, size and shape. Briefly outline the nature of the incident – include time, date, weather conditions and damage sustained
  • identify the exact location of the incident on the map. Use the map tools to find the general area and then it is essential that you zoom in sufficiently to accurately mark the map. This is vital information that will be used to investigate your claim.

If the defect is showing on the map as an existing problem you should add your details to the existing record by clicking on the defect icon and selecting ‘Add me to this defect’.

B) Complete the contact details in full and submit the form.

  • Note the reference number the system provides.
  • If you are claiming for multiple incidents you must create multiple online logs and use multiple claim forms.

C) Print a copy of the claim form for vehicle damage or the claim form for all other types of claim.

  • Insert the reference number given when you reported the defect in the space provided at the top of the form.
  • Read the form carefully and complete all relevant information.
  • Post the form with all supporting documents to: Devon Highways, Devon County Council, Lucombe House, County Hall, Exeter EX2 4QD

Ensure that your form and document package is weighed and that you pay the appropriate delivery costs. You may want to get a certificate of posting. We are not able to pay for items of post when postage has been underpaid. It’s a good idea to keep copies of the completed claim form and any accompanying documents for future reference as we are unable to return any documents sent to us.

What happens next?

Stage 1 – acknowledgement
When we receive your information, we will undertake a preliminary investigation and write to you to:

  1. advise you that your claim should be directed elsewhere
  2. request additional information. Incomplete claim forms will be returned; it’s important to provide any additional or missing information quickly, as the investigation is put on hold until we have the full details
  3. inform you that we are preparing a full report for our Insurance Section or Gallagher Basset for a decision on liability to be made.

Stage 2 – investigation and decision

A full investigation will be undertaken and a report supplied to our Insurance Section or Gallagher Bassett to make a decision. The decision will be based on the facts and the law, and will reflect the current attitude of the courts.

If it is believed the courts would reject your claim, then that is likely to be the decision which will be arrived at by our Insurance Section or Gallagher Bassett. If it is believed that the courts would award compensation, then an offer will be made to settle your claim.

You will be contacted by our Insurance Section or Gallagher Bassett direct, as soon as they have had the opportunity of considering your claim and the circumstances surrounding the incident. This stage two process will generally be completed within a few days for personal injury claims, and a few weeks for all other claims, but they will contact you as soon as these investigations have been completed.