Potholes – The Great Scourge of British Roads

Motorists, traders and insurers are paying out millions in repair costs due to the poor standard of UK roads. The widespread problem of potholes has caused frustration and anger among many British drivers and motor traders. But what’s the solution?

Potholes have been a recurring problem of Britain’s roads for many years. However, with tighter road maintenance budgets from central government and an onslaught of particularly cold weather earlier this year, we’ve recently witnessed some of the highest numbers of pothole-related claims the nation has ever seen.

For garages and repair centres, this could mean a welcome increase in business. However, the tables turn when you consider the motor trade professionals whose vehicles are also falling victim to potholes. From checking repairs are running smoothly, to offering test drives on new or used vehicles, there are numerous daily activities that put motor traders’ vehicles at risk of damage from potholes.

So what do motor traders need to know and is there a way to mitigate the risk?

Where do potholes come from?

Potholes typically form when water enters cracks in road surfaces and freezes, causing disintegration and crumbling.

While potholes seem like a problem that simply won’t go away – regardless of government measures or protests from angry motorists – there is actually a reason they are so prevalent on UK roads.

Potholes typically form when water enters cracks in road surfaces and freezes, causing disintegration and crumbling. As Britain regularly undergoes sharp weather changes, potholes are somewhat of an unavoidable nightmare.

The significant temperature drop that took place earlier this year, or ‘The Beast from the East’ as you might remember it, is one such example of this process in action – albeit a considerably more significant one than we are used to.

Whose problem is it?

Any damage that a pothole causes to your vehicle could potentially entitle you to compensation.

Local authorities are generally responsible for maintaining roads in their area while motorways and A roads are the responsibility of Highways England. And if you frequent London red routes, you have Transport for London to thank for the quality of your road surfaces.

Any damage a pothole causes to one of your vehicles or a customer’s vehicle you are driving, could potentially entitle you (or the customer!) to compensation. If, however, much to the dismay of many drivers, that troublesome hole in the ground isn’t technically classified as a pothole, you won’t receive any compensation and will have to make a claim on your road risk insurance or motor trade insurance policy.

It is perhaps a not so humorous fact of British roads that we can’t find a universal definition of a pothole, but generally a common measurement would be 40mm in depth and 300mm in width.

To learn more about what is and isn’t covered by motor trade insurance, get in touch with ChoiceQuote today and we’ll happily give you a quote for effective coverage.

Dealing with pothole damage

32 per cent of drivers experienced vehicle damage caused by potholes from 2016-2017, according to a study conducted by the AA.

According to a study conducted by the AA, an amazing 32 per cent of drivers experienced vehicle damage caused by potholes from 2016-2017.

If you believe a vehicle has been damaged during the course of your business as a direct result of a pothole and wish to make a claim against the local authority, make sure to keep records of both the incident and the repair made to the vehicle and include these details in a formal letter to the relevant local authority.

In addition to physically recording the depth and width of the pothole, photos and notes on the incident as well as any witnesses will add strength to your claim.

If your claim is accepted, you will be able to recoup much of the cost of repairs. If not, you will have to rely on the road risk insurance element of your motor trade insurance to absorb the damage.


  1. Check for damage
  2. Take notes of the pothole’s location and dimensions
  3. Report the pothole
  4. Repair the vehicle
  5. Make an appeal

Pothole precautions

Although you shouldn’t have to change your driving style too much, it pays to be cautious in areas known for particularly poor road conditions. This can involve making sure you and any of your staff who regularly handle your vehicles keep their distance from other drivers and reduce speed when possible.


Potholes and the motor trade industry


While compensation may be available for certain pothole related damage, it’s not always possible to see the damage straight away. Long-term damage or misalignment of tyres for instance could rear its ugly head months down the line.

If you’re unsure about the level of coverage your business’ road risk insurance provides, make sure you review your policy with Britain’s notoriously poorly managed roads in mind. If you need some advice or a quote about covering cars under your charge against potential damage, ChoiceQuote are happy to help.

To find out more about motor trade insurance that is there when you need it most, contact ChoiceQuote today on 01625 885 046 or receive a quote online.