'Some country roads are so badly potholed they may have to be permanently closed, it has been warned.
Rural insurer NFU Mutual said motorists are facing 'huge problems' because of poorly maintained roads, a higher risk of accidents and a lack of gritting during the winter months.
The company's motor insurance specialist Ian Flower said: 'The deteriorating state of rural roads has been exacerbated by the recent, prolonged freezes.
'Further flooding also poses an additional hazard as many deep potholes are disguised.'
A spokesman added: 'Some local authorities have suggested they don't have enough money to maintain the entire network of rural roads. We fear this could lead to closures and huge disruption for local communities.
'Farmers and other people in rural areas would be forced to make huge diversions to make journeys that are currently half a mile or so in length, but closures would lead to motorists having to loop round much longer routes.'
Figures from NFU Mutual suggest a 48 per cent increase in the number of pothole claims from 2015-17, with the total value of claims almost doubling over the same period.
More motorists are thought to be seeking recompense directly from local authorities, while others might shoulder the costs themselves rather than claim on their car insurance.
Earlier this year the Local Government Association called on the government to tackle the disparity in funding between national and local roads.'
Read more: Some country roads are so blighted by potholes they may have to be permanently shut...leading to fears it could cause huge disruption to local communities