Enormous rise in pothole claims could see drivers hit with damage

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Today, January 15, marks National Pothole Day, with new data showing that the amount of pothole claims has increased by a third (34 percent) since 2016. Admiral 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 percent.

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.

Six years of Admiral claims data reveals that more than a third of pothole-related claims occur between January and March – more than any other time of the year.

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. 

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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 percent, 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 15 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.

“In fact, pothole-related claims are 43 percent higher in these months than average, as road surfaces become unsettled by colder temperatures. 

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“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.”

Although there is no guarantee that motorists will be able to claim any money back if their car is damaged on a British road, drivers can still claim compensation.

They should make a note of the pothole’s location, the time and date they hit it and get a photo if it’s safe to do so and take the car to the garage for the damage to be assessed. The mechanic’s report should be in writing.

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The next step is to work out who maintains the road; local roads, B roads and some smaller A roads are maintained by the local councils in England, Wales and Scotland.

Asking for copies of highway maintenance schedules and reports of incidents (within 14 days of the accident) will help to demonstrate that either the highway hasn’t been properly maintained or that a reported pothole problem hasn’t been addressed.

Whoever is in charge of the road should have a formal template they can fill in, which is when an offer should be made to the driver.

Almost £9million was paid out by local authorities in compensation for potholes in the last year alone.

It is estimated that it would cost just over £75million per local authority to fix the backlog of carriageway repairs – amounting to a total of £12.6billion. With the massive amount of potholes, it has been forecast that it will take nine years to clear the backlog of carriageway repairs.

JCB is also getting involved with the pothole action, with its PotholePro, which has fixed more than 23,000 miles worth of road. The impressive piece of machinery has also taken orders from as far afield as Australia.

Closer to home in Coventry, the city council has filled in five times the number of potholes in the last 12 months thanks to JCB’s speedy but long-lasting fix.

With the machine, one pothole can be permanently repaired in eight minutes and costs just £30. In comparison, the traditional method of repair can cost up to £60 per pothole.

This post is originally appeared on Express UK

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