In the wake of last year’s awful winter, Britain’s home emergency service providers were overwhelmed with insurance claims. Everything from snow damage from mini-avalanches unceremoniously dumping themselves from roofs to boiler breakdowns that affected almost three million homes as they asked to work too hard for too long to stave off temperatures that failed to climb above zero for days on end.
But the home emergency service was not the only insurance sector to feel the full force. Britain’s car and van insurance providers were the long-term sufferers of the coldest winter for decades as pot holes formed through constant freeze thaw action that remained long after the last of the snows had melted away, causing thousands of motorists to either make a claim or put their hands deep into their pockets for repairs if they had only taken out cheap van insurance of the most basic type.
A new report suggests that in 2011. the UK local authorities repaired 1.7 million potholes across the country’s roads at a total cost of £600M. A further £21.3M was successfully claimed on car and van insurance policies by Britain’s drivers who had suffered due to poor roads.
UK roads could get worse before they get better
Since 2010 the government has chipped in with £300M from its emergency reserve to help patch up the roads, but that still leaves 20% with a projected life span no greater than five years; the cost to repair those and all of the other roads in need of repair has been estimated at £10bn – that’s a lot of tarmac and a lot of vehicle insurance policies that will be affected between now an then.
In the wake of the findings of the 17th annual ALARM survey, the Asphalt Industry Alliance has speculated that it would take eleven years to clear unresolved issues on English roads for maintenance that falls under the remedial banner, as potholes do – that’s neither even accounting for any new hazardous conditions arising nor any Welsh roads.
According to the AIA, the UK is stuck in a vicious circle. Years of under funding have led to the ‘disastrous’ conditions we see now; during that time, it has been one emergency fix after another. As we are in no position to wholesale upgrade the roads, we are likely to spend 20 times as much carrying out makeshift repairs as we have been doing compared to if we were able to rip it up and start over.
It’s a tough call for the local authorities but with none of them likely to be availed of all the funding they’ll need to keep all of their roads tip top, van drivers need to do anything they can to fix in their no claims bonuses. At an average cost of just over £350 per pot hole repair, they’re not likely to be repaired any time soon.