Drivers and their insurers are paying out at least £1 million a month in repair bills for cars damaged by potholes, according to research by the AA.
The motorists’ body, which also acts as an insurance broker, reports that the number of pothole claims between January and April 2018 is more than those made during the whole of last year.
The AA estimates that, across the UK, there will have been over 4,200 claims for pothole damage so far this year. Given that the average repair bill is around £1,000, that works out at more than £1 million a month on motorists’ insurance claims.
Janet Connor, the AA’s director of insurance, points out that the cash spent is even higher as these figures don’t include minor damage, which motorists pay themselves.
She says: “In most cases, the damage caused by a pothole – a ruined tyre or even two tyres and perhaps a wheel rim – doesn’t justify making an insurance claim, so the claims we are seeing are clearly much worse than that.
“Drivers are hitting potholes and ruining their suspension, steering, the underbody of the car, breaking axles and occasionally being knocked off course and hitting other vehicles, kerbs or lamp-posts.”
She points out that a new development this year is the growing number of claims where the damage is described as “car severely damaged and un-driveable”, adding that the pothole “epidemic” is a “national disgrace”.
At the end of March, transport secretary Chris Grayling announced an extra £100 million fund to help repair two million potholes and local roads after winter damage.
But Ms Connor believes this fund doesn’t go far enough, adding that local council budgets have been “squeezed” to the point where they don’t have the resources to keep roads up to scratch.
According to additional research by the AA at the end of April, 88% of 17,0000 drivers polled believe roads are in a worse state now than 10 years ago.
When taking out car insurance, it is worth checking the Ts&Cs as in some cases repairs due to pothole damage will be covered. At Direct Line, for example, no-claims bonuses will not be affected if a car is damaged by potholes or poor road maintenance – though customers will still need to pay any excess they sign up for.