Pothole claims are mounting

Brake and steer smart. Photo: Pexels.com

Brake and steer smart. Photo: Pexels.com

Published Sep 28, 2023


Potholes - a common sign that a road is deteriorating – are widespread throughout South Africa. According to the South African Roads Federation (SARF), South Africa is home to 25 million potholes, 10 million more than there were five years ago.

Recently, Dialdirect noted a 15% increase in pothole-related accident claims and a 9% increase in tyre damage claims that are as a direct result of a pothole. In 76% of these claims, the pothole damage was so severe, it rendered the car undriveable.

In South Africa, the majority of pothole-related claims come from the cities of Pietermaritzburg (21%), Pretoria (20%), Potchefstroom (17%), Bloemfontein (15%), Johannesburg (14%) and Durban (13%). Most of these pothole-related claims are logged from incidents that occurred during off-peak traffic times when motorists tend to drive a bit faster.

“Dodging potholes has fast become a professional sport but doing so can, and sometimes does, result in car accidents. Even if hitting a pothole doesn’t cause an accident, the damage is immense. One bad patch of road could lead to punctures, tyre bulges, bad wheel alignment and balancing, uneven tyre wear, cracked rims, damaged undercarriage, damaged tyre walls and blowouts,” saID Martin van Wyk from Dialdirect Insurance.

Traditionally, if a motorist sustains damage to their car after driving over a pothole, they could seek compensation directly from either the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) or their local road agency, depending on which road they were driving on at the time of the incident.

“Each road agency has its own procedure and if, for some reason, you have claimed from the wrong agency or failed to submit the right information, your case could be rejected or delayed. A successful claim depends on whether there was negligence on the part of the roads or municipal authority in not repairing that pothole, thereby removing a clear and present danger to the road user. In response to the time it takes to claim for pothole damage from road agencies, and the pothole issue at large, Dialdirect has included dedicated Pothole Insurance within its tyre and rim product, which covers accidental damage/loss caused by uneven road surfaces and potholes,” said van Wyk.

Dialdirect provides the following guidelines for navigating poorly maintained roads:

Your car

  • Proactive maintenance:
  • On spec:
  • Profile carefully:
  • Emergency kit:

Your driving

  • Alert & aware:
  • Heavy loads, rough roads:
  • Cuts like a knife:
  • Slow it down:
  • Undercover threats:
  • Brake and steer smart:

In the event of an incident or accident

  • Don’t assume that it’s just a minor damage. Stop when it is safe to do so to make sure.
  • Switch on your hazard lights and, if possible and legal, pull into the emergency lane.
  • Make sure that your vehicle remains visible – make use of your emergency triangle.
  • Call emergency services and your insurer for assistance.