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Driving mistakes in snowy weather that could void your car insurance

Eleanor Newis
Jan 29, 2019

These are the errors you could make in snowy weather.

Temperatures are plummeting across the UK and the Met Office has has issued yellow warnings for ice for most areas of the country. Drivers are therefore being told to take extra care when hitting the roads this week.

This comes after large swathes of the UK woke up to snow last week, tempting lots of people to use their cars to get to work and school, to keep in the warm.

The RAC says that motorists should maintain as much as 10 times the normal recommended gap between them and the car in front when driving in bad weather. This will ensure drivers are safe if something happens to the car in front of them.

When on the roads, you should also aim to accelerate gently, only use low revs and change up to a higher gear as quickly as you are able.

Whenever you approach a bend, always brake before you actually start to make the turn with the steering wheel. If your car does lose grip on the road and you slip, make sure not to panic. You should take your foot off the accelerator and make sure that your wheels are facing the direction you want to go.

If you get stuck on the road, the Institute of Advanced Motorists recommends that you turn your wheels from side to side. This will hopefully push the snow out of the way.

Here are some common mistakes that drivers make. These simple errors could not only make you unsafe on the roads, but could void your insurance policy.

1 Not clearing snow from the roof of your car before driving

This might seem like too small a thing for insurance companies to worry about. But if you don’t clean the snow off your car, you can invalidate your insurance cover.

Having snow on the roof can be a hazard for both yourself and other drivers on the road. There is a possibility that the snow might fall off and obscure your vision. This is especially likely if you are travelling at high speeds, or if you’re braking.

Most of the time, your insurer is unlikely to pay out if you have been driving illegally or recklessly, and they will probably claim you have been irresponsible if you have an accident due to there being snow on your roof.

2 Not de-icing and de-misting the whole car

You might be unaware that it is a legal requirement for you to ensure your windshield is clear from any obstructions before you begin driving.

This includes ice — which means you need thoroughly de-mist your vehicle before going out on the road. Failure to do this can lead to your insurer arguing that you did not take all the necessary safety precautions before driving.

3 Leaving your car unattended while it heats up

UK law requires the you de-ice and de-mist your car, but you could even find yourself without insurance cover if you do this, depending on how you go about it.

Even if it’s freezing, you and your car won’t be covered if you leave the vehicle alone whilst it heats up — especially if you leave it with the keys in the ignition. This is because most policies have duty of car clause, which requires you to take care of the car.

So it might be tempting to stay in your house and wait for your car’s heating to kick in, but this will put you in danger of voiding your insurance. So, stay in your car and wrap up warm.

4 Not driving appropriately for bad weather

Even if there isn’t a red weather warning, you should be paying close attention to the conditions you’re driving in.

If you don’t drive appropriately for the conditions, you risk voiding your policy as an insurer can argue that you were being reckless. So, don’t just hit the road like you normally would if the weather looks icy.

Most insurers will still pay out if you have a collision in bad weather, but you should still take responsibly for how you’re driving.

Check the details of any third party cover in your car insurance policy — whilst comprehensive insurance will pay out if there is damage caused by adverse conditions, lots of third party policies don’t. This is because these policies usually only cover damage to other vehicles. 

This is also a good time to check that you’re on the right car insurance policy for your vehicle and driving habits. It is particularly important in winter, where the bad weather makes it more likely you’ll have an incident on the road and damage your car. Use a price comparison tool like A Spokesman Said and make sure you stay safe on the roads in winter.


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