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. Alternatively, 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 is 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. Please therefore do not send us original documents. If you have posted your claim to us, and would like reassurance that it has been received, please ring 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 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. If you still wish to submit a claim, please see How do I make a claim?
Please note that we do not tolerate fraudulent claims. All of our claims handlers are trained in fraud awareness and any suspected fraudulent claims will be vigorously investigated. Where fraud is proven we will seek to recover costs and pursue either through the criminal or civil courts. Where claimants have been found to have made false or exaggerated claims, the Courts take a firm approach and will impose fines or in severe cases, imprisonment.
Devon County Council has a system of inspection in place that allows many of the insurance claims we receive to be defended.
The amount of compensation paid out to motorists for road accidents over the last four years has dramatically decreased.
- 2013/14 – £148,932.90
- 2014/15 – £36,311.42
- 2015/16 – £23,545.54
- 2016/17 – £13,493.19