Pothole Claims

Insurers fork out estimated £2.85million per month

claims for pothole damage have soared by over 600 per cent

8 March 2010

Public concern about the state of Britain's crumbling road network is justified, judging from new figures from AA Insurance which show that over three years, the number of claims for pothole damage has soared by over 600 per cent.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance says: "Nationally, the damage to cars caused by potholes in February alone cost insurers around £2.85m* – the equivalent of about 1,900 claims.

"But that's just the tip of the iceberg, because it takes serious damage to make it worth insurance claim. Garages and tyre centres are dealing with countless thousands of punctured tyres, damaged tracking or broken springs which don't justify making a claim.

"The figures underline the struggle that local authorities are facing in keeping the pothole outbreaks under control," he says.

"While some councils are keeping on top of the epidemic, following one of the most severe winters in living memory, others are struggling to meet the cost of the seemingly unending workload."

North Yorkshire county council has been forced to introduce a 'pothole tax', the equivalent of a weekly 8p increase in Council Tax to fund their repair programme which, the AA says, local people will find hard to swallow, especially pensioners and families who do not drive.

Commenting on the tax, AA President Edmund King says:

"Local roads are in a dreadful, dangerous state and emergency funding is desperately needed to stop the plague of potholes. However with the motorist already paying £46 billion per year in various motoring taxes and only a small proportion spent on the roads, it would be highway robbery to demand more money from local people.

"The Government intends to increase fuel duty on 1 April by approximately 2.5 pence per litre. If this fuel windfall was diverted into pothole repairs then all of the UK's potholes could be funded and filled in 100 days.

£140 million repair costs

The estimated two million potholes, costing £70 each to repair, leave a £140 million hole in council budgets that could be filled in three to four months, the AA argues.

Potholes affect all road users from cyclists to bus passengers. They are a particular menace at night on dark rural roads as often the driver is unaware of the pothole until the damage is done.

The AA is building up a picture of the nationwide pothole plague via drivers' reports on AA Pothole Watch which will be shared with the highway authorities.

Factfile

* Estimate based on number of insurance claims made by AA Insurance's 1m car insurance customers multiplied by number of private cars on UK roads, at an estimated average cost per claim of £1,500.

This is based on 67 claims for accidental pothole damage in February 2010, compared with 25 last February and just 11 in February 2008.

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9 March 2010