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Winter driving: Are you covered?

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There’s a lot to think about when it comes to driving in winter. We need to check our cars more regularly and perhaps leave a little earlier in poor weather. Plus, there are a number of laws and rules that come into play that we don’t need to consider most of the year.

We all have car insurance but how do you ensure you’re always covered in the winter? You probably think that by ensuring your payments are up to date and you have a policy that suits your needs, you’re protected. However, in winter there are some things drivers do that could actually invalidate their policy once out on the road – whether you have comprehensive insurance in place or money-saving black box car insurance. We’ve looked into these a little further in this post:

Your insurance could be invalidated if you:

Are not driving appropriately in poor conditions

Certain weather conditions require you to drive slower or take a different route to avoid treacherous back roads. If you don’t drive in a way to suit the conditions – such as speeding on icy roads or in heavy snowfall – and you have an accident, you may be unable to claim and your policy may be invalidated.

Fail to demist and de-ice your whole car

A little gap in icy or fogged up windows isn’t going to cut it. To be deemed roadworthy, your vehicle’s glass and mirrors must be clear. If you were involved in a collision – no matter who was at  fault – your insurer may not pay out if your car wasn’t considered cleared enough to have been out on the road.

We know you may be in a rush to get to work but you still need to ensure you clear that ice and misted up glass quickly. Here are some tips:

  • Clear the ice first – use de-icer and an ice scraper to clear ice from all the windows – even the back ones! Scrape the whole window to ensure visibility is the best it can be.
  • Wipe the door mirrors with a microfibre cloth to ensure they’re clear.
  • Turn the engine on and switch on the heater, and start on a cold setting before gradually turning up the temperature. Turn on the air con, as this dries the car out inside and stops further condensation.
  • Wait for the misted glass to be completely clear before setting off.

Leave snow or sheets of ice on your car roof

Snow is dangerous on the roads but even more so on the roof of a car. If you don’t clear it from the roof, it could fly off the back and into traffic behind you, disrupting other driver’s vision and potentially causing an accident.

Leaving snow on the roof could invalidate your car insurance if you need to claim, as you are not abiding by rule 229 of the Highway Code. This law requires you to remove all snow that could disrupt other drivers. While there’s no actual law against leaving snow on the roof of your car, if the police spot you then you could end up with a fine of £60.

Safety tips for driving in winter

Ensure you can tackle anything the season has to throw at you, with these tips:

  1. Increase the distance between you and the car in front in wet or icy conditions – This gives you more time to stop if you need to emergency brake.
  2. Check your car regularly – Ensure window washer fluid is topped up and that your oil level is correct more than usual in winter.
  3. Clear your car completely of snow, ice and leaves before heading out – Pay attention especially to windows, mirrors, your number plate and headlights.
  4. Check your window wipers and change the rubber inserts if they look worn – They need to be able to clear windows effectively, and worn or damaged wipers won’t do a great job.
  5. Put winter tyres on your car – Swap out your usual tyres for winter ones, which offer better grip when the roads are icy. They can be pricey but if you live in an area that is hit by winter weather more often, then it may be worth it.
  6. Check headlights – No one wants to struggle to see in the dark, winter weather – plus it’s illegal to have a headlight out. Check them regularly and perhaps have a spare bulb in the glove box just in case.
  7. Steer into skids – If you do skid on ice or snow, steer into it. This should level you out and straighten your car again.
  8. Accelerate slowly and smoothly in slippery conditions – The faster you accelerate, the more likely it is that your backend will skid out.
  9. Be careful when driving late at night with the heater on – Turn the temperature down or open the window a little to keep the car ventilated and to ensure you don’t get drowsy.
  10. Let someone know where you’re going and timings – In poor weather, make people aware of where you’re driving and when you can be expected, as this ensures if you’re late or they can’t reach you then they know where you may be.
  11. If the weather looks really bad, don’t drive! Don’t risk it if you don’t feel confident.

All of these issues arise during the winter months, so it pays to leave a little earlier and plan ahead to avoid running the risk of invalidating your insurance and affecting your ability to make a claim if you need to.