Will a Red Weather Warning Void Your Car Insurance?

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By Cai Bradley
Updated on Monday 16 December 2019

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Claims that driving during a red weather warning will void your car insurance have circulated 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?

According to the Met Office, a red weather warning means that dangerous conditions (often wind, rain or snow) are expected and will make it difficult to travel. Many buses, trains and flights could be cancelled, properties and infrastructure could be damaged, and it’s likely that energy supplies could be disrupted.

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 refer to some travel disruptions or if only certain regions of 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 insurance? Will you still be covered if you drive during a red weather warning?

Are you insured to drive during a red weather warning?

If you drive during a red alert weather warning, your car insurance does not automatically become invalid or void. As long as your car is taxed, has a valid MOT and insurance, your provider will not void your policy if you are ever involved in an accident during dangerous conditions.

Most fully comprehensive car insurance policies will cover damage caused by severe weather conditions, while third-party only policies will protect you against the cost of any damage you cause to someone else’s vehicle.

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.

You should also be careful when it comes to defrosting your car, as most providers will invalidate your insurance policy if you leave your vehicle unattended with the engine running - a method known as ‘car idling’.

Read our guide to find out more about how your car insurance could become void.

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. It’s recommended that you avoid doing so, but it is unavoidable under certain circumstances.

If you must drive during dangerous winter conditions, it’s important that you follow our winter driving advice.

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. 

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? It’s highly unlikely that a provider will void your car insurance cover purely because you were driving during a red weather warning, 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 there is a genuine danger to life and you could be putting yourself and others at-risk.

We understand that it can be unavoidable, in which case you should still be covered by your insurer and must take care.

Be sure to 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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