There is no doubt that potholes have become the biggest threat to vehicle and tyre damage. Vehicle and tyre service providers in the Johannesburg area has confirmed that 6 out of 10 vehicles brought to these centres have suffered damage caused by potholes.
Our roads are deteriorating and there is much pressure on local authorities to have these potholes repaired. On the Car Insurance Blog we closely monitor our visitor and have seen a sharp increase in 2010 in the number of visits that came to the blog via searches about pothole damage and car insurance.
But is this a uniquely South African problem?
I am afraid not! New research by the AA has revealed that car insurance claims, for damage caused by potholes, accounted for £3 million in car insurance claims in the UK during February alone.
Some £2.85 million worth of car insurance claims made in February were a result of damage from potholes in roads that have remained untreated by local councils. The AA’s Simon Douglas said that there are probably many more minor problems caused by potholes that never get reported. He explained that the, “claims are just the tip of the iceberg, because it takes serious damage to make it worth [an] insurance claim”.
This is a very valid comment and true in South Africa as well. Only those vehicle owners who have suffered serious damage are searching to find who is to be held accountable. If vehicle damage from potholes has occurred on the National Roads, the South African National Roads Agency will be accountable. They are insured against such claims and it is possible to find compensation for the damage.
The biggest frustration for South African drivers is that most of the pothole damage is to be found on roads managed by local municipalities. Efforts to hold these local municipalities responsible is often time consuming and a costly exercise. It simply does not console the driver who needs his vehicle the next day and who is already struggling in a tough financial climate!
The AA has warned against driving along rural roads after dark. In these conditions the AA warns that most drivers do not notice the pothole until the damage has already been done. The organisation says the number of claims for damage by potholes in the UK has risen by a staggering 600 per cent in the past three years.
What are the costs of pothole damage to car insurance in the UK?
According to the AA, the average quote for third party, fire and theft car insurance totalled £1,252 by the end of last year. The typical annual comprehensive car insurance premium totalled £1,000.
The threat to Road Safety needs to be recognized as well! In South Africa many vehicles on our roads are not insured. Pothole damage is one of the contributing factors to many non-roadworthy vehicles and damaged tyres on our roads. This could increase road deaths and injury to road users.