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Rise in pothole compensation claims

New figures show that claims for compensation for damage to vehicles caused by potholes have risen by a factor of 10 in parts of the UK.

Pothole in the road

The wet winter has had a devastating effect on the UK's poorly maintained roads, with huge increases in damage compensation claims in many areas.

Somerset was one of the areas hardest hit by storms and flooding.

Pothole damage claims to the county council rose from 24 in November and December last year to 240 in January and February 2014.

Insurance claims also up

Claims in Worcestershire were up five-fold over the same period, while cases in Dorset more than doubled. 

This is according to figures from campaign website Potholes.co.uk.

A report from the AA showed that car insurance claims for pothole damage were up by a factor of five at the start of 2014 when compared with the end of last year.

The organisation said: "Insurers are taking an average of 173 insurance claims per week, compared with 33 per week over November and December last year.

"This suggests that the extreme weather has left the roads in a pretty poor state."

£12bn needed to repair roads

Earlier this year, the Asphalt Industry Alliance published the latest version of its Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey.

This showed that a lack of investment in repairs meant that £12 billion was now needed to get the country's roads back in shape.

This represented an increase of £1.5 billion on the 2013 figure.

But Angela Steiner, spokeswoman for the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), said the new figures showed matters were getting worse.

'Escalating roads crisis'

"These figures confirm the ALARM report in that there is a very real roads crisis that is continually escalating," she said.

"The AIA is urging central government to introduce an 'invest to save' policy.

"The government has recently made significant additional funds available to help combat the results of the relentless rainfall the winter.

"But spending money on repairing damage by temporary patching and mending doesn't go as far as planned, preventative maintenance.

"It costs 20 times more per square metre to fill a pothole than it does to resurface a road."

'Warning signs needed'

A car hurtling towards a pothole

David Gerrans, spokesman for Potholes.co.uk, said the situation had got so bad that councils should introduce temporary signs to warn drivers of pothole-ridden roads.

"With potholes costing drivers £730 million a year – with an average bill of £247 – a sign only needs to stop a couple of incidents to justify its price," he said. 

"If road signs can warn of falling rocks from above then why not craters from below?"

In the March 2014 Budget, the government announced a "potholes challenge fund" of £200 million, with local authorities allowed to bid for a chunk of this extra cash.

Upfront road repairs will save money

Steiner added: "The additional fund is very helpful and good news.  

"However, the point has to be made that investment up front rather than after damage has been incurred remains a much more efficient use of funds.

"This has the added benefit of allowing highways departments to plan ahead."

"Everyone must work together – industry, the private sector and government – to continue to find solutions to the need for investment to facilitate longer-term planning."

If your car has suffered damage as a result of poorly maintained roads, take a look at our step-by-step guide on how to claim for pothole damage.

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Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris



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