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Pothole claims rocket by 750% as flood-hit counties face big payouts

By Kyle Lindsay
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 - 15:30

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PROBLEM: Would new signs help in pothole war?

Winter flooding has created a surge in pothole compensation claims to councils, with one council seeing cases rocket by a staggering 750%.

Somerset Council received an incredible 204 claims in January and February, compared to a paltry 24 in November and December – officially becoming the worst-affected local authority post-winter storm.

The region’s misfortune was only the tip of the iceberg, however, with car axle, wheel and suspension faults plaguing other heavily-affected areas.

Surrey County Council admitted a 353% increase in claims, campaign website Potholes.co.uk have also revealed, with a further backlog waiting to be entered onto the system.

Dorset County Council, meanwhile, saw a 127% increase to 193 claims, after experiencing up to three times the average expected rainfall during the weather horror show.

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

David Gerrans, Warranty Direct

Potholes.co.uk are proposing new pothole signage could be installed on damaged stretched of road as a temporary warning system for road users.

The signage, it is claimed, would only need to prevent two or three incidents to cover costs versus garage bills and compensation payments.

Pothole damage to cars in the UK creates an estimated annual repair bill of £730million and continues to increase each year, according to research by Warranty Direct.

David Gerrans, Managing Director of Warranty Direct, said: “With potholed stretches of road affecting many road users on a daily basis, there’s now real cause to create dedicated signage.

“Let’s give people a fighting chance of avoiding unnecessary garage bills or even personal injury.

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

“The average bill for pothole damage now runs at £247, so a sign only needs stop a couple of incidents to justify the expenditure.

“The embarrassment will be for the government in just how many signs need to be put up – there’s one pothole for every mile of road by some estimates.”

As a result of the heavy rainfall damaging roads, Potholes.co.uk had more than 1,500 potholes reported across the UK in January and February alone.

Warranty Direct found that claims for axle and suspension damage, a common result of hitting potholes at speed, increased 22% between 2012 and 2013.

Axle and suspension faults currently represent around 10.1% of all claims handled by the company – in 2010 this was just 4%.

While the average repair bill for pothole-induced axle or suspension damage is £247, Warranty Direct and Potholes.co.uk have identified recent claims as high as £2,700.

The average cost for a council to repair a single pothole is only around £52.

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