Insurers paying out £1m a month in pothole-related claims
There have been almost three times as many pothole-related car insurance claims this year compared to over the same time period last year, costing insurers more than £1m per month.
This 171% increase, estimated by the AA, means the number of pothole claims made during the first four months of 2018 is more than for the whole of last year.
Based on the AA’s share of the car insurance market, the broker estimates that nationally, there will have been over 4,200 claims for pothole damage so far this year. With an estimated average repair bill of around £1,000 that comes to £4.2m, where drivers consider they have no option but to make an insurance claim.
On top of that, the number of call-outs for AA Patrols to provide assistance following damage after hitting a pothole, has doubled.
Janet Connor, the AA’s director of insurance said: “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 given that it is likely to lead to the loss of your excess and no-claim bonus. 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 a lamp-posts.
“This year we are seeing a growing number of pothole claims described as: ‘car severely damaged and un-driveable’ which didn’t happen at all last year.
“The pothole epidemic has become nothing short of a national disgrace.
“According to the AA’s research, nine out of 10 (88%) of drivers say roads are in a worse state now than 10 years ago.
“Even the Secretary of State for Transport, who in March announced £100m funding to be sunk into road repairs, admitted we haven’t spent enough on the country’s roads since the 1980s.
“That fund is welcome but no-where near enough. Local council budgets have been squeezed to the extent that competing priorities mean they don’t have the resources to keep their roads up to scratch – hence the £9bn that is estimated to be needed as a one-off investment to restore Britain’s roads (according to a March ALARM survey).
“Our nation’s highways have become a national embarrassment.”
To combat the issue the AA have launched #FlagitFunditFillit - a campaign to highlight to Government the need to invest in Britain’s roads.
Connor added: “Potholes can appear almost overnight and it’s really important to ‘Flag it’ to the highway authority responsible so that they are aware it exists.
”Councils have a statutory defence against paying out compensation for damaged cars if they aren’t aware of a pothole.
”I would call on drivers to safely photograph the potholes they encounter and send them to the responsible highway authority and the Department for Transport by social media, to show them the extent of the pothole problem.
“We are also calling on the Government to ‘Fund it’ by ring-fencing 2p per litre of current fuel duty to create a £1bn ‘pothole fund’ specifically to be channelled to local councils so they can get on top of their pothole problem.
“With that funding, councils can then ‘Fill it’ and make their local roads safe for all road users whether on four wheels, two, or on foot.
”That way, compensation payments that could otherwise be used to keep roads in good repair, should dramatically fall.”