Drivers making claims for pothole damage are sure to be disappointed
Anyone who values their time should forget about making a claim to collect on vehicle damage caused by a pothole.
Potholes are back with a vengeance in this old-fashioned winter, with far more than last year, when unseasonably warm, dry weather kept them in check.
SeeClickFix, which is on The Fixer home page at thestar.com and heavily used by readers to report problems, has been inundated with pothole complaints over the past week or so.
The good news is that SeeClickFix plugs directly into Toronto’s 311 service for pothole complaints. The city acknowledges every report, issues a confirmation number and adds the location to its inventory of holes to be filled.
The bad news is that claims for compensation for vehicle damage caused by a pothole are routinely denied, with the city’s insurance adjuster always ruling there is insufficient proof to support it.
When the insurance adjustor is judge and jury in assessing the validity of a claim, it can just say no, and there is nothing more to be done about it.
Not that people haven’t tried. City ombudsman Fiona Crean (who some politicians and Mayor Rob Ford say should be sent packing) issued a report in late 2011 that found the pothole damage claims process is badly flawed, with most unfairly denied.
Over a five-year period, 95 per cent of pothole claims considered for Crean’s report were tossed out, which she described as “shockingly bad service.”
The city’s adjustor came up with all kinds of measures and standards and allegedly good reasons to support its almost total denial of claims, but nobody in the bureaucracy or on city council clamored for serious change.
Promises were made to be fairer, but since it is in the city’s interest to pay off only the squeakiest of wheels and the most egregious claims, you can bet that the numbers haven’t significantly improved.
The lesson for the poor saps whose cars are damaged by bouncing through a pothole is to consider a claim a losing proposition, and not waste time compiling evidence that will almost certainly be tossed out with little or no consideration.
It will only lead to more frustration.