New data from insurance company Admiral suggests the number of pothole claims has increased by a third (34%) since 2016.
It is warning that December’s icy snap could cause even more cracks to open up in Britain’s roads echoing the fall out of ‘Beast from the East’ in 2018, when plummeting temperatures caused pothole claims to surge by 102%.
Six years of Admiral claims data reveals that more than a third (36%) of pothole-related claims occur between January and March – more than any other time of the year.
A pothole forms when water seeps into existing small cracks in the surface of the roads and then freezes and expands in the cold weather. The frozen water then evaporates during the warmer weather, causing gaps in the surface which get broken-down by-passing traffic. Driving over a deep pothole, even at a low speed, can cause damage to a vehicle’s tyres, alloy wheels, steering alignment, wheel tracking and balancing and suspension. When the steering is severely damaged it can also make it difficult for the driver to control the vehicle, which could increase the risk of accidents.
The average cost of pothole damage has also increased by 16%, according to Admiral’s data, likely linked to higher tech vehicles and a general increase in the cost of repairs.
Lorna Connelly, Head of Claims at Admiral, said: “January 15th marks National Pothole Day and anyone who drives will be familiar with that sudden ‘clunk’ from roads that are plagued with potholes. But potholes are more than just an inconvenience, they can also cause costly damage to your vehicle.
“January, February and March are the worst time of year for pothole claims, with over 36% of claims we receive made over this period. In fact pothole related claims are 43% higher in these months than average, as road surfaces become unsettled by colder temperatures.
“Pothole pockets can quickly open up, especially if the weather has been bad, which means they might not have been there the last time you took that route. Keep a sharp eye and slow down – swerving can be more dangerous! If you think you’ve hit a hum-dinger, get out and check for damage at the safest opportunity. Take photos of the pothole and the damage to your car and consider taking your vehicle to a mechanic to check for damage.
“If you have Comprehensive cover, claiming for pothole damage through your insurer should be a straightforward process, but it can affect your no claims bonus and you may need to pay an excess. However, if your car gets damaged on a British road from a pothole, unless you have comprehensive cover, you might not be able to claim on your insurance.
“You can always try to claim compensation for any damage caused to your car, through whoever is responsible for the road you were driving on, although there is no guarantee you will be successful. This can be a tricky process, though, so we’ve created a step-by-step guide explaining how to claim compensation for pothole damage.
“It’s great that there is funding committed to fixing Britain’s potholes – we know what a huge nuisance they are for our customers. However, keeping on top of them is a challenge for local authorities so it’s always best stay alert and keep a lookout for any potholes that might have popped up.”
(File picture courtesy of RAC)