Three months after hitting the biggest pothole he’s ever seen, Dan Anstey still hasn’t resolved his damage claim with the city.
“It looks like we have to wait another two to three months. It seems that the pothole claim guy was on vacation,” an angry Anstey told the Sun.
“No worries though, since they are ‘reviewing the system to see how we can speed up the process.’ I guess this is the first time since 1855 the city has faced such an influx of calls that they feel they need to review the process.”
Anstey was driving along Vanier Pkwy. near Montreal Rd. on March 1 when he struck a doozy.
He got out of his car, joining motorist Alyona Popovich as they surveyed the damage to their vehicles.
Anstey paid about $300 out of pocket while Popovich forked over nearly $900.
They filed a joint claim with the city.
On average, 180,000 potholes are repaired by city crews, costing taxpayers nearly $5 million annually.
Six month turnaround time for a claim isn’t the norm, according to city clerk and solicitor Rick O’Connor.
“After a claim has been opened, the retrieval of records, review and response period for a pothole claim is generally about four to six weeks,” O’Connor wrote in an e-mail via the city’s media relations department.
Once a claim is underway, “a thorough investigation of a relatively straightforward claim will generally require at least two weeks for the investigator to assemble the relevant evidence from the city staff involved in the matter. An investigation of a more complicated claim can take several weeks to conclude,” said O’Connor.
The department is committed to opening and acknowledging claims within 10 business days from submission, he said, noting this past winter 448 claims were submitted, which is above average.
“During the very busy pothole season, there is often an additional period of time required for this step as a result of the high volume of claims,” O’Connor said.
After beginning a claim, maintenance records have to be retrieved.
The claim is then “reviewed in the context of the minimum maintenance standards contained in the Regulations to the Municipal Act,” he said.
Six investigators and a specialist work in the claims unit.
“None of these employees is solely dedicated to addressing pothole-related claims. There are also three clerks who input claims,” said O’Connor.
2007 had the highest number of pothole claims in recent years: 533.
Winter 2012/13: 448 claims were submitted, higher than normal.
The claims arrive in clusters during thaws, typically dozens over a few days.
Pothole claims represent about 20-25% of all claims filed with the city. (Roughly 2,000 claims are sent in each year from people looking for compensation for an injury or damage).
Source: City of Ottawa