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Red weather warning: Is my car insurance still valid?

There is a rumour going round that says driving during a red weather warning invalidates your insurance. We decided to see whether there is any truth to that claim.

If for some reason you have avoided the million photos, posts and status updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we can inform you it is snowing. So much so, in fact, that the Met Office has issued a red warning for areas particularly affected by ‘The Beast from the East’ (a nickname once used for a Nissan Skyline).

An unexpected byproduct of the snow has been a rumour circulating (usually in the form of one of those Facebook text images) that driving during a red weather warning makes your insurance invalid.

To spare you unnecessary anxiety, we decided to do a spot of digging to see whether it is true or, as Trump would call it, ‘fake news’.

Does a red weather warning affect car insurance?

Let’s cut to the chase, your car insurance is still valid if you drive during a red weather warning. It would be somewhat ridiculous if you had to get out and leave your car behind in dangerous freezing weather because of some weird insurance clause.

Kevin Prattt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Your insurance cover should remain invalid whatever the weather, but don’t take that as a green flag to drive without giving heed to the red alert for snow.”

In other words, you are completely fine to drive but doing so may put you at risk and there is a slight caveat, as we will now explain.

So I can drive wherever I want during a red weather warning?

In theory, yes. A red weather warning is advisory because of the dangers, but it cannot stop you from driving. What can happen, though, is that negligence still applies.

Pratt continued: “Simply knowing you’re going to get a pay-out shouldn’t mean you take undue risks. If your insurance company can prove contributory negligence on your part, your claim might not be paid.

“For example, if you drove into a swollen ford where there was a warning in place and your car stalled and was ruined by water, your claim might not be paid.

“The same would apply if you went down a road in contravention of official road closure signs and were subsequently involved in an accident.”

Numerous other insurers and the Association of British Insurers (ABP) have effectively said the red weather warning car insurance rumour is drivel, but obviously driving like an idiot in the snow could bite you in the arse.

“Motor insurance will cover you in the usual way, providing you are driving within the law,” a spokesperson for the ABP explained.

Does your type of car insurance cover matter?

Just like on a normal day without snow, your type of cover affects what would happen in the event of an accident. Comprehensive means you will be paid out for are covered for damage to your own vehicle and other vehicle or property you are liable for any damage caused.

Third-party, meanwhile, means no payout for your vehicle, but liabilities will be covered so no one is left out of pocket. A red weather warning has no effect on either type of car insurance cover.

So what is a red weather warning?

A red weather warning is typically given when, according to the Met Office there is a potential risk of ‘damage, widespread disruption and/or danger to life’.

Red is classed as ‘extreme weather’ and is therefore the most dangerous, with yellow the least and amber in between. The likelihood of impact is taken into account when it comes to deciding on what colour to use.

Any tips for driving in the snow?

If you have to drive for whatever reason (we’re not here to judge), there are a few things you can do to minimise the risk so click the link below. Given that we just read about motorists who got stuck on a motorway for 18 hours, you probably should take some precuations.

Read: 10 tips to winter-proof your car.



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