Pothole-related insurance claims have risen by almost a third since 2016, according to new figures from insurer Admiral. And the company says the value of those claims is increasing even more dramatically as vehicles become more complex and harder to repair.

In 2020, the number of claims Admiral dealt with involving damage to vehicles caused by potholes was up by around 30 percent compared with 2016. And despite the coronavirus lockdown, the firm says the number of pothole-related claims made in 2020 was up 20 percent on 2019’s figure, suggesting potholes are an “ongoing and increasing” problem.

Of equal concern was the increase in value of these claims, with the average claim value up by more than 50 percent compared with 2016. Back then, the average pothole-related claim set the insurance company back £1,700, but in 2020, that figure had risen to £2,700 as cars have become more technologically advanced.

Upset driver inspecting wheel damaged from potholes

And there’s more reason for drivers to worry, as the Admiral analysis betrayed March as the most likely month to see damage caused by potholes. According to the company’s figures, 13 percent of all pothole related claims are seen in March, at the tail end of winter.

That, the company says, is because potholes form when water seeps into existing small cracks in the surface of the roads, 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.

Road worker repairing pothole in Buckingham UK

“Our data shows that potholes continue to cause problems for many motorists on UK roads, and the cost of repairs is increasing significantly as vehicles become more advanced,” said Lorna Connelly, head of claims at Admiral. “Not only can pothole-related damage be dangerous and costly, it can also be difficult to claim compensation from the authority responsible for the road.

“Despite the national lockdowns that have been in place, the number of pothole claims increased last year, compared to 2019. With that in mind, if you must make an essential journey, stay alert and keep a lookout for any potholes that might have formed in the road. They can quickly pop up, especially if the weather has been bad, which means they might not have been there the last time you took that route. When you see a pothole in the road ahead, slow down to reduce the amount of damage caused to your vehicle.”