Highways insurance claims
In this section:

Highways insurance claims

We are currently experiencing very high volumes of claims being received, with the recent snow events making matters more difficult for us, please bear with us whilst we work through our backlog.

We aim to provide an initial response to all damage claims within 12 weeks. The process after that can in some cases take up to 90 days to conclude.

Some claims will be passed to our term maintenance contractor Skanksa, if we believe liability rests with them rather than us. You will be advised of this by our insurance section. Skanska are also dealing with very large workloads and are working to get through the backlog as quickly as possible.

We apologise that we are unable to respond to all claims as quickly as we would like, and thank you for your patience during this busy period.

If your claim has been emailed to us, you should receive an auto-response confirming receipt. If you have posted your claim to us, and would like reassurance that it has been received, please ring 0345 155 1004.

Winter 2017/18

If your vehicle/windscreen has been damaged because of salt/grit being sprayed by a gritter, please be advised that winter maintenance is carried out on behalf and under the instruction of Devon County Council by Skanska, our Term Maintenance Contractor.

The contract of employment we have with Skanska indemnifies us from any claims arising as a result of their negligence, and therefore any claims for damage caused by gritters should be made to Skanska, at the following email address:


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 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.

Devon County Council cannot make payments in respect of compensation as a result of its highway works.  When Parliament passed the relevant legislation that requires the maintenance of public highways (Highways Act 1980) there was no requirement on highway authorities to pay compensation to residents or businesses that might be affected by such works, or for the extra fuel costs.  We always try to ensure that we schedule and carry out such works in a way that minimises disruption and inconvenience, but even if that occurs, there is no legal basis on which we can make compensation payments.

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.

Please ensure you enclose all the documents we request, as listed below for vehicle damage claims. Failure to do so will result in your claim being delayed.

For all claims:

  • A clear map showing the location of the defect.
  • Dated photos showing the defect and surrounding area (if safe to obtain).
  • Dated photographs of the damage/injury – Note: The County Council may request to inspect the damage or commission a vehicle inspection.

For vehicle damage claims you must also provide:

  • Vehicle registration document.
  • Insurance certificate – Note: The County Council may contact your insurers to confirm this information.
  • MOT certificate (If required for the vehicle).
  • Proof of last service.
  • Proof of valid road tax – www.vehicleenquiry.service.gov.uk
  • Supporting evidence for age of tyre(s).
  • Invoices or receipts for the required repairs (Note: quotations are not accepted).

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.

Please note that Gallagher Bassett are a claims management company who are authorised by our insurers to handle the higher value claims made against us.

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.