Will a Red Weather Warning Void Your Car Insurance?


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By Cai Bradley
Updated on Thursday 1 October 2020

Cars in snow red weather warning traffic

Claims that driving during a red weather warning will void your car insurance have circulated in the UK for many years, but is there any truth in this common myth?

In this guide, we define a red weather warning, explain what it means for your car insurance policy, and give you some quick tips for driving in extreme weather conditions.

What is a red weather warning?

A red weather warning means that dangerous conditions (often wind, rain or snow) are expected and will make it difficult to travel. It is the most serious weather warning, and damage to buildings and roads are likely to be caused by the conditions.

Many buses, trains and flights could be cancelled, properties and infrastructure could be damaged, and it’s likely that energy supplies could be disrupted.

As it’s the most severe kind of weather warning, a red weather warning could even mean that there is a risk to life, so it’s often advised that you avoid travelling where possible.

You might see other types of warnings to inform drivers of less severe weather conditions, including amber and yellow alerts.

An amber weather warning is just one step below red and you should remain very cautious when taking to the road if it is in place, while a yellow alert might lead to some travel disruptions or instances where only certain regions in the UK are affected.

Weather alerts and warnings can be issued for extreme wind, rain, snow and ice, but what does it mean for your car insurance? Are you still covered if you drive during a red weather warning?

Are you insured to drive in a red weather warning?

If you drive during a red alert weather warning, your car insurance does not automatically become invalid or void, meaning you are insured.

As long as your vehicle is taxed and has a valid MOT, your car insurance provider will not void your policy if you are ever involved in an accident during a red weather warning.

If your insurer attempts to claim that you were uninsured due to driving during a red weather warning, you should go through the company’s complaints process, and if you’re unhappy with the outcome, take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

If you are unhappy with the service offered by your car insurance company, it’s important that you switch providers when your policy is due to renew.

To compare cheap and reliable car insurance quotes today, simply tap the button below:

If you are considering a new policy, remember to check its terms and conditions before signing on the dotted line, and make sure that it provides a sufficient level of cover for an affordable price.

What type of car insurance do you need in a red weather warning?

Most fully comprehensive car insurance policies will cover damage to your vehicle caused by severe weather conditions, while third-party only policies will only protect you against the cost of any damage you cause to someone else’s vehicle (damage to your own vehicle isn’t covered).

Read our guide to the various types of car insurance available for more information.

Driving with due care and attention

The purpose of a red weather warning is to make you aware of the dangers that may be on the horizon so that you can plan ahead, but if your situation means that driving is unavoidable, you should still be covered by your insurance policy.

This doesn’t mean that you will get away with driving irresponsibly, as your insurer may refuse to pay out if they suspect that you were driving recklessly or ‘without due care and attention’.

Defrosting your car: Avoid ‘car idling’

You should also be careful when it comes to defrosting your car, as most providers will invalidate your insurance policy if you use a method of doing so known as ‘car idling’.

Car idling essentially refers to leaving your vehicle unattended with the engine running - a method many people use to defrost their windscreens during winter months. Not only does this increase the risk of theft, but, unbeknown to these people, car idling can lead to an invalid car insurance policy.

You shouldn’t drive if your vehicle’s windscreen has not completely defrosted, as this can potentially lead to three penalty points on your driving licence and a fine of up to £60.

Driving during a red weather warning

Contrary to popular belief, you can drive during any weather warning, regardless of whether it’s red, amber or yellow. We recommend that you avoid doing so if possible, but it is unavoidable under certain circumstances (and the best car insurers understand this).

If you must drive during dangerous winter conditions, it’s important that you follow our winter driving advice to keep yourself, other road users and pedestrians safe.

Before taking to the road in the snow and ice, you should use the FORCES acronym in order to complete a winter car safety checklist: 

  • Fuel

  • Oil

  • Rubber

  • Coolant

  • Electrics

  • Screen wash

Wintery conditions mean that it’s even more essential to drive slowly, make gentle manoeuvres, maintain a safe distance between vehicles, and make use of any ‘winter mode’ settings, if available.

You should also pull away in second gear if you feel that you may be at-risk of wheel spinning and getting stuck in snow or ice, and always try to maintain a constant speed when going uphill.

Ensure that you take extra caution when approaching roundabouts, junctions and sharp corners. 

Winter driving essentials

It’s worth investing in a winter driving survival kit in preparation for dangerous conditions and keeping it in your car.

These often include de-icer, ice scrapers, a torch, screen wash, demister pads, a first-aid kit, a hi-vis jacket, and a warning triangle, but you can also get some more premium kits that include jump leads, shovels, and so on.

Red weather warnings and car insurance policies in the UK

So, will a red weather warning invalidate your car insurance? No, it’s highly unlikely that a provider will void your car insurance cover purely because you were driving during a red weather warning (whether it’s due to snow, wind or rain), as long as you are not breaking any of the conditions noted within your policy.

This doesn’t mean that it is safe to drive during a red weather warning, though.

When possible, you should avoid driving when a red alert weather warning has been issued, as it is the most severe warning and there is a genuine danger to life, so you could be putting yourself and others at-risk.

We understand that it can be unavoidable (and so do most insurers), in which case you should still be covered by your insurer and must take care.

For more information, check out our range of car insurance and money-saving resources, including a guide to driving in the winter and how you could be fined for failing to defrost your car.


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