Extreme weather is on the rise in the UK, with strong winds, heavy rain and hot summers making our roads more treacherous. But can this severe weather affect car insurance? And what should you be mindful of when driving in poor weather conditions?
To find out, we’re looking at the ins and outs of driving during severe weather, and how this might affect your insurance cover. We’ll be answering key questions to help you avoid invalidating your policy while staying safe out on the road.
- Is Car Insurance Invalidated When There’s a Severe Weather Warning?
- Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover Weather-Related Accidents?
- Can Adding Sun Screens or Shades Affect Car Insurance?
It feels like severe weather warnings are becoming more common in the UK, whether its gale-force winds in the summer or torrential rain in the winter. So, you might be wondering, do official Met Office weather warnings affect car insurance? And are you allowed to drive if there’s a warning?
Forecasters issue weather warnings when there’s a risk to safety and travel disruption is likely. They often request that people stay at home unless travel is essential – but most people would be reluctant to miss work or school because of the weather.
The good news is, car insurance is valid when weather warnings are in place. Following a spell of severe weather last autumn, insurers were keen to clarify their stance on driving in bad weather – with most saying that provided your car is insured, taxed and has a valid MOT, it’s still legal to drive no matter how severe the weather gets.
There are however, certain instances when insurers may revoke your cover due to bad weather, and these come down to minor safety oversights. Let’s take a look at the four possible ways to invalidate your car insurance in wintry weather.
Failing to De-Ice and Demist the Whole Car
Demisting and de-icing are among the most annoying aspects of winter driving, and no one likes doing it on a dark, cold morning. But you should, and thoroughly. Failure to demist and de-ice your whole car could invalidate your insurance, especially if the police believe that poor visibility contributed to an accident.
Failing to Clear Snow Off Your Roof
If you wake up to find an inch of snow on your car roof, don’t set off until it’s all cleared off. Driving with snow on your roof could invalidate your insurance, as it’s a hazard for you and other drivers. During the winter, it’s worth keeping a squeegee with your de-icing tools, as this is perfect for quickly shifting loose powder off your roof, bonnet and boot lid.
Failing to Drive Safely for the Conditions
Whether a weather warning is in place or not, insurers expect you to drive according to the conditions – which might mean slowing down a touch in bad weather, and keeping a greater distance between yourself and others. If the police have reason to believe you were driving carelessly for the weather, even if you were under the speed limit, this could void your cover.
Leaving Your Key in the Ignition as Your Car Warms Up
Sounds obvious, but don’t leave your key in the ignition while the engine is warming up. If someone steals your car while it’s left unattended with the key in the ignition, there’s little your insurer can do about it. Instead of leaving the engine to idle, follow our guide on how to quickly de-ice and demist your car ready for driving.
Yes, comprehensive car insurance covers weather-related accidents, provided you weren’t at fault and your car is in a roadworthy condition. Insurers understand that motorists need to drive in all weathers, so cover includes incidents that happen as a result of severe driving conditions.
While carmakers treat glass with UV protection, you still have to be mindful of the sun’s harmful rays while driving, especially if you’re travelling with children and pets in the backseat. One way motorists get around this is to add sun screens, shades and privacy tints to the windows, but could such installations interfere with your insurance cover?
Adding sunscreens and tints to protect passengers from the sun might sound innocent and sensible, but some insurers class it as a modification. Most insurers request that you let them know about any modifications made to your car – whether that’s fitting a big bore exhaust or installing a sunblind to protect your baby from harmful UV rays.
We know this sounds extreme, but any changes to your car which differ from its original specification is classed as a modification, and that includes sun blinds, tints and privacy screens.
Of course, not all insurers take this stance, and we’d be surprised if any of the mainstream providers took issue with you fitting components that improved overall safety. But as Sally discovered, there are some insurers which may class it as a modification, so read the fine print of your policy carefully before changing anything on your car.
We hope this guide has cleared up any doubts you have about how weather can affect car insurance. For more useful motoring guides and advice, click here for the Prestone blog and newsfeed. Or, for our full range of high-performance car maintenance fluids and products, visit the homepage.