Is car insurance valid in a weather warning? How yellow, amber and red snow and ice warnings affect cover

What the law and insurers say about driving under a weather warning and how it could affect your insurance claim

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Weather warnings are in place for large parts of the UK as Arctic winds bring freezing temperatures, snow and ice.

The Met Office has issues widespread alerts, with snow already falling in some parts of England and warnings of further falls in coming days. Temperatures dropped as low as -14C on Tuesday night in remote parts of Scotland and -8C in northern England.

The Met Office yellow weather warnings cover most of England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland, with the threat of heavy snow across much of the country towards the end of the week. Travellers have been warned to expect delays and disruption on the roads as snow and ice make driving conditions more difficult.

Poor weather brings a predictable spike in breakdowns and accidents and the last cold snap, in December 2022, saw call-outs and claims at insurer NFU Mutual double while the RAC reported its busiest single day on record in mid-December.

With tricky conditions bringing an increased likelihood of a collision, rumours are once again circulating on social media that driving during a weather warning will invalidate your insurance. However, in most circumstances this is not the case and your insurance will remain valid.

According to the AA: “You can drive during any weather warning, be it red, amber or yellow. Your insurance provider won’t invalidate your policy just because you had to drive in heavy snow or strong winds. If your car is taxed, has a valid MOT and is insured, you’re legal for being on the road.”

The RAC’s Rod Dennis echoes this, explaining: “Insurance is mandated by law and so unaffected by the weather.”

It’s important to follow advice on driving conditions, even if your insurance is valid during weather warnings It’s important to follow advice on driving conditions, even if your insurance is valid during weather warnings
It’s important to follow advice on driving conditions, even if your insurance is valid during weather warnings

A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers said that weather warnings did not affect cover but urged drivers to consider whether their journey is necessary. She said: “We would urge all drivers to pay close attention to advice from local authorities and the emergency services in areas affected by snow – particularly where there is a red warning.

"People’s safety is paramount. However, social media rumours that motor insurance will be invalid if people drive during a warning are not true. Motor insurance will cover you in the usual way, providing you are driving within the law."

Although driving while a weather warning is in place doesn’t automatically affect your insurance, breaking the law or taking unnecessary risks could lead to some difficult discussions with your insurer should you need to make a claim.

Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at Forbes Advisor told the Scottish Sun: “Simply knowing you’re going to get a payout shouldn’t mean you take undue risks. If your insurance company can prove contributory negligence on your part, your claim might be questioned, and any payout reduced. 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.”