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Pothole insurance claims rise

Road pothole epidemic a national disgrace

Potholes are costing drivers and their insurers at least £1 million per month due to massive car repair bills, according to AA estimates.

  • The AA has seen almost 3 times more pothole-related car insurance claims so far this year than it did over the same period in 2017.
  • The number of pothole claims made to the AA during the first 4 months of 2018 is more than for the whole of 2017.

Based on the AA's share of the car insurance market, the broker estimates that there have been over 4,200 claims for pothole damage so far this year in the UK. With an estimated average repair bill of around £1,000, that comes to an eye-watering £4.2 million, or more than £1m per month.

On top of that, the number of breakdown call-outs for AA patrols to provide assistance following pothole damage has doubled.

Janet Connor, director of AA Insurance, says: "In most cases the damage caused by a pothole, such as a ruined tyre or two and perhaps a wheel rim, doesn't justify making an insurance claim, due to the policy excess and the potential loss of your no claims discount. 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 or axles, and are occasionally being knocked off course and hitting other vehicles, kerbs or a lamp posts.

"This year we're seeing a growing number of pothole claims described as 'car severely damaged and undriveable', which didn't happen at all last year.

"The pothole epidemic has become nothing short of a national disgrace.

"According to research by the AA, almost 9 out of 10 (88%) drivers say roads are in a worse state now than 10 years ago."1

Connor adds: "Even the Secretary of State for Transport, who in March announced £100 million funding to be sunk into road repairs, admitted we haven't spent enough on the country's roads since the 1980s.2

"That fund is welcome but nowhere 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 roads in England and Wales.3

"Our highways have become a national embarrassment."

To highlight the need to invest in reversing the deterioration of Britain's roads the AA has launched #FlagitFunditFillit.

Says Connor: "Potholes can appear almost overnight and it's really important to 'Flag it' to the highway authority responsible so that they're aware it exists. Councils have a statutory defence against paying out compensation for damaged cars if they're not 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're 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 for 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, which could otherwise be used to keep roads in good repair, should dramatically fall."


1 Populus received 17,503 responses to its online poll between 17-24 April 2018. Overall, 88% say that the roads in their neighbourhood are in a worse condition than 10 years ago.

2 Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, in The Times, 2 May 2018.

3 According to the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey 2018, £9.31bn is the estimated one-time cost to get roads back into reasonable condition in England and Wales. Commissioned by the Asphalt Industry Alliance.

11 May 2018