Car insurance claims 'set to rise from pothole damage'

Image caption Local councils say they are facing a large bill for pothole repairs

Insurance claims from drivers are expected to rise owing to potholes created by the wintry weather, according to AA Insurance.

The group urged drivers to take care after evidence from the cold snap at the start of 2010 showed damage to wheels, suspension and bodywork.

Potholes develop after water that seeps beneath the road surface freezes, which then loosens the road surface.

Passing traffic, a thaw and rain complete the damage.

Claims increase

The average insurance claim for pothole damage to cars is just over £1,300, according to AA Insurance. This average could be pushed up because some people do not claim on insurance for relatively small amounts that could affect a no-claims bonus.

The most costly AA claim last year topped £14,000, it said, after a driver lost control and crashed after hitting a pothole.

Last winter's cold weather resulted in a threefold increase in claims received at the AA. This winter is expected to be significantly worse because of three successive bad winters and the growing backlog of road renewal.

"It is really important that drivers keep a sharp eye out for potholes and keep their speed down, particularly on secondary roads, remembering that in wet weather deep potholes may be obscured by water," said Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance.

"Cuts in road maintenance budgets of 20% mean that local authorities face very difficult choices on the roads they prioritise for repair. While they may fix the dangerous potholes, many are likely to go unrepaired."

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