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Insurance claims against the council

Report the incident to us as soon as possible (even if the defect has already been repaired)

To report a highway or streetscene issue:

  • Online
    • using My Wiltshire reporting where you will be able to leave your email address and receive updates
    • download the My Wiltshire app where you can attach photos and videos and pinpoint the location of your report using the map software on your device
  • By telephone
    • 0300 456 0105 - Office hours are 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

 When you report the incident please state that you wish to make a claim and a form will be sent to you.


Please make detailed notes of the incident, examples of relevant information are:

  • The road name and a detailed description of the location. This should include any landmarks and other distinguishing features
  • Time and date of the incident. (Please note that a claim cannot be made for damage that has occurred over a period of time, this would be considered wear and tear)
  • The weather conditions at the time of the incident
  • Where possible and if it is safe to do so, take photographs of the road showing the defect responsible for the incident and the surrounding location
  • Again, where possible and if it is safe to do so take measurements of the defect, including its depth using a ruler or measuring tape
  • Details of the damage that has occurred and photographs of this damage
  • Where the damage is to property, receipts to substantiate the financial loss incurred
  • For personal injury claims, dates of any hospital or GP visits
  • Retain details of any witnesses and/or police incident number (if applicable)

With a network of over 2750 miles of maintained highway, we are responsible for the vast majority of roads within Wiltshire (excluding the Borough of Swindon). These roads are often referred to as adopted highway or highway maintainable at public expense.

The main exceptions are roads designated as private roads. These are the responsibility of the road owner, which is usually not the council. Private roads are sometimes called unadopted roads (not adopted or owned by the local council).

Other exceptions to the general rule are motorways and some trunk roads - these are the responsibility of Highways England. The roads within Wiltshire maintained by Highways England are the, M4, A303 and A36.

There are also many military roads within Wiltshire which are owned by the Ministry of Defence and we are not responsible for these.

It may also be the case that the road/location in question falls outside the boundaries of Wiltshire council. Where this is the case we will aim to identify the neighbouring local council responsible and will forward your claim onto them.

Refer the adopted roads list to see whether the highway is maintainable at public expense by Wiltshire council.

The council, as the Highway Authority, has a statutory duty to maintain the public highway in good order, under section 41 of the Highways Act 1980.

The Highways Act 1980 also acknowledges that it is not possible to keep the road network entirely free from defects, and that it is unreasonable to expect local authorities to know about all defects and to repair them the moment that they appear.

Similarly, not all defects are of a serious enough nature to represent a danger to road users, and would not be considered in need of repair.

In recognition of this, local council's have been given a legally recognised defence against compensation claims under Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980. To enable us to rely on a Section 58 defence, the council must have a clear policy setting out its road maintenance regime, and must show that we have complied with this policy.

Our maintenance regime includes:

  • Regular safety inspections of the highway.
  • A system to identify and prioritise defects and hazards.
  • Response times within which to undertake repairs.

Details of our inspection regimes and defect prioritisation levels can be found in our,  Highway Inspection manual, available in the downloads section.


When we receive your completed form, including any photographs and receipts, your claim will be investigated by the insurance team using current legal frameworks. Claims will only be paid if Wiltshire council are legally liable for the incident.

It is important to understand that due to Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980, mentioned above, there is no automatic right to compensation.

Wiltshire council as the custodian of the public highway uses taxpayers' money to maintain the road network and cannot immediately and automatically pay for damage caused by defects.

All public expenditure is subject to scrutiny and we need to demonstrate that taxpayers' money is spent in the right way.

In this context, we investigate all claims individually and on their own merits in order to reach a position on liability as quickly as possible.

Whilst assessing your claim we will look at the classification of the road, how often it is inspected and whether the council could have reasonably been expected to know that the defect existed. If we have previously identified the defect, we will also take into account its prioritisation for repair.

When the council accepts that it is liable for the damage caused, then a prompt offer of compensation will be made. This offer is made on an indemnity basis and is not “new for old”. Therefore a reduction for depreciation and wear and tear will be taken into account.

When the council does not consider that it is liable, and that the Section 58 defence can be relied upon, then we will tell you as quickly as possible. Our decision to deny a claim will be based on the facts and the law, and will always reflect what we believe to be the attitude of the courts.

You may decide to take the claim further, by issuing small claims court proceedings. When this happens the council will continue to defend the claim in court.

We aim to complete our investigation for low cost damage claims within 28 days of the receipt of a completed claim form. More complex and personal injury claims may take up to 90 days for investigation and a decision on liability to be made.


To report a claim or request a claim form please follow the process outlined in "What you must do" .

If you have already made a claim and need to contact the insurance team please call 01225 718302 or email insurance@wiltshire.gov.uk

Claims Portal ID is G00280

Our postal address is:

Insurance Team
Business Services
Wiltshire Council
BA14 8JN


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Last updated: 21 November 2017 | Last reviewed: 21 November 2017