The AA estimates 1,700 private car owners have made a claim for pothole damage during the first few weeks of 2014

Insurers are now receiving 173 claims per week for pothole damage to motor vehicles, compared with 33 per week during November and December 2013.

This more than five-fold increase comes after a wet winter that has caused further deterioration to the UK’s roads.

AA Insurance director Simon Douglas said: “It takes serious damage to justify making an insurance claim, but over the first few weeks of 2014 an estimated 1,700 private cars have been damaged sufficiently seriously by potholes to make it worth making a claim.”

And a survey by the AA reveals that the number of people reporting local roads as being in a ‘terrible’ condition has increased 11 percentage points to 40%, compared to only 29% in October 2013.

Main roads and trunk roads have also deteriorated over that period.

More than a third (34%) of respondents reported main roads as being ‘terrible’, an increase of 10 percentage points, while trunk roads saw a 10% decline in the number of people reporting the roads as being in excellent condition.

AA president Edmund King said: “It is unacceptable that each winter, whether it is frost or rain, our roads are crumbling and give way too easily. Bad surfaces with millions of potholes can cause death and injury, especially to those on two wheels, and lead to expensive damage and insurance claims.

“Government emergency handouts like those recently for pothole repairs are welcome, but are a sticking plaster rather than a cure that will properly repair our roads for the future. We must ensure that our politicians recognise the crisis as we come up to local and general elections.”