Nearly 40 Canberrans received payouts last year for damage to their cars from potholes, but Higgins woman Taylah Kolaric wasn’t one of them.
The car enthusiast is still battling to make a claim a year since she drove through cold mix washed out of a stretch of potholes on Belconnen Way in Hawker, peppering the paint job on her white FG Falcon.
Cold mix is asphalt is used to repair cracks and potholes during the winter season, or during rainy periods.
To add insult to injury, one of her tyres now has an egg on it after running into a pothole this month as the wet weather took its toll on ACT roads and the ACT Government struggles to keep up with repairs.
“I’d barely had it for four months,” Ms Kolaric said. “I don’t see how I’m at fault. If the road wasn’t fixed in the awful way it was, my car wouldn’t have the damage it had.
“My new $20,000 car just got smashed by sh-tty road work. Not real happy about it.”
The ACT Government does not automatically accept liability for these sorts of incidents, but social media commentary on the pothole crisis abounds with posts about successful claims.
A government spokesperson said that there had been 61 claims from drivers for damage to their vehicles from potholes in the last two financial years, and it had paid out $37,320.
Thirty-nine claims had been settled in the complainants’ favour, 12 were still being assessed. Ten were unsuccessful.
“Each claim is rigorously assessed in accordance with the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 and referred to the Territory’s insurer and the ACT Government Solicitor, when required, to determine if the reimbursement of substantiated expenses is justified,” the spokesperson said.
Actually being able to a make claim appears to be the first hurdle, though.
Ms Kolaric said she first raised the issue with Access Canberra in August last year, providing before and after photos of her car.
“I even went as far as showing the weather reports showing extremely heavy rainfall for that part of the month,” she said.
An emailed response acknowledged that the cold mix method was prone to wash out when it rained but that it was still her responsibility.
She was also told to make a claim on the Fix My Street site, but she only received an email saying the road had now been repaired.
It then took her three or four tries to actually talk to someone while another email was ignored for three months.
It was like headbutting a wall, Ms Kolaric said.
“The original quote was between $600 and $800, and I’m not even asking for the full amount,” she said.
“I’m only asking for half that, $300 or $400, and they won’t even pay that. The amount of time I’ve wasted.”
Ms Kolaric has also written to Roads Minister Chris Steel but seems resigned to paying for the repairs, booking the car in for November.
While the government says the driver’s insurance policy generally covers motor vehicle accidents, Ms Kolaric, like many, does not want to lose her no-claim bonus and the excess would be more or less the cost of repairs.
She owns three cars, paying about $3000 in registration a year.
“We pay all that rego, three grand a year for me to have my cars damaged is absolutely heartbreaking,” Ms Kolaric said.
In the last financial year, pothole repairs almost tripled from 2,719 in a much drier 2019-20 to 6,375.
In June alone, more than 500 potholes were fixed.
The government is spending an extra $6 million so additional crews can respond to community requests for pothole repairs and grass mowing, and may have to allocate more in the coming Budget to cope with the forecast of more above average rainfall.
To report a pothole, visit the Fix My Street portal.