Why highways claims data matters

  • Like all local authority departments, highways teams are having to make the best use of limited resources
  • Claims analysis can help your highways department focus on problem areas
  • Claims insight can also help demonstrate that you are taking a risk-based approach to managing your highways assets

The revised Code of Practice for Highways Maintenance, due for publication this summer, will give local authorities greater autonomy over how they manage their highways assets.

Instead of following specified statutory inspection regimes, for example, authorities will be able to decide for themselves how frequently certain roads should be inspected.

The consequence of this greater freedom, however, is that your authority must demonstrate that it is taking a risk-based approach to managing its highways assets. This means being able to provide evidence to back up your decisions regarding the frequency of maintenance and inspections.

The importance of claims analysis

Analysing and understanding data on highways claims can help you take decisions with confidence. It can also lead to more efficient use of limited resources, as Clive Speed, Regional Senior Claims Service Manager, Zurich Municipal, explains.

“The biggest challenge highways asset managers face is that they have a finite resource that’s constantly being challenged,” he says.

“There is not enough money to do absolutely everything that you might want to do, so it’s a question of juggling the available resources.

“The value of claims insight is that if the data shows you are paying out a lot of claims in a certain area, it suggests there may be a particular problem that you can address.

“For example, if you are receiving many claims relating to potholes on a particular road, you might decide to resurface the entire road, rather than reactively dealing with each pothole after a claim or complaint is made.

“Conversely, you may be aware of a road that is not in ideal condition, and perhaps has a large number of small potholes. However, if the data reveals that you are receiving very few claims, if any, relating to that road, you may decide to carry on making repairs on a reactive basis rather than carrying out wholesale repairs to the road.”

Claims insight

Speed says that while claims analysis has always been important, its significance will increase under the new risk-based system:

“A working party that’s been tasked by the UK Roads Liaison Group to re-write the claims and risk guidance that’s part of the Code of Practice, recently held its first meeting. One of the things discussed was the importance of claims insight.

“The general consensus is that under the new risk-based approach, claims insight will become more important than ever.”

The general consensus is that under the new risk-based approach, claims insight will become more important than ever”
Clive Speed, Regional Senior Claims Service Manager, Zurich Municipal

Free flow of claims information

Claims insight relies on the free flow of information between the insurer and the relevant departments of the local authority.

Speed says: “Ideally, the insurer, the local authority risk manager and the highways asset manager will work together, and will talk to each other regularly, sharing information to mitigate highways risks.

“At Zurich Municipal, we believe there will be a need for greater claims data and analysis to support the new risk-based approach, and an even greater need for insurers and highways authorities to work together more closely. This is what we are focused on ahead of the publication of the revised Code of Practice.”