DRIVERS and insurers are losing £1m a month repairing damage to vehicles caused by potholes, the AA says.
The motorists’ organisation says the number of claims for the first four months of 2018 already equal those for the whole of last year.
It said there was a pothole “epidemic” that was a “national embarrassment”.
The Department for Transport said it was spending £23bn on England’s roads to improve journeys, which included a pothole action fund.
Based on its share of the car insurance market, the AA has extrapolated that there have been 4,200 such claims this year across the UK.
Janet Connor, the AA’s director of insurance, said spending cuts meant roads were not being properly maintained.
“Local council budgets have been squeezed to the extent that competing priorities mean they don’t have the resources to keep their roads up to scratch,” she said.
“Our nation’s highways have become a national embarrassment.”
The AA was seeing a growing number of pothole claims described as “car severely damaged and un-driveable”, she said, which had not happened at all last year.
The estimated average repair bill was £1,000, but the AA said that underestimated the true extent of the damage.
Ms Connor said the £1m a month figure was not the whole story: “In most cases the damage caused by a pothole – a ruined tyre or even two tyres and perhaps a wheel rim – doesn’t justify making an insurance claim given that it is likely to lead to the loss of your excess and no-claim bonus. So the claims we are seeing are clearly much worse than that.”
In March, the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, announced a £100m fund for road repairs, and admitted there had not been enough spent since the 1980s.
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said it was providing councils in England with more than £6bn to help improve the condition of roads.
“This funding includes a record £296m through the Pothole Action Fund – enough to fix around 6 million potholes.”
Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said councils needed more central funding to let them carry out the widespread improvement that roads required.
A Highways England spokeswoman said it had replaced more than 4,400 miles of road surface in the past three years.
The AA carries a check list for motorists on its website advising what they should do if their vehicle is damaged by a pothole.
Last week it said it had conducted a study and found that nine out of 10 drivers said the condition of UK roads had deteriorated over the past 10 years.
Thurrock Council’s deputy leader, cllr Shane Hebb pledged in 2017 that the council would eradicate all potholes in the borough by 2018.