Cold facts about how to resolve car complaints

It's a cold morning and the car windows are frosted up. You're looking at 15 minutes of ice scraping and warming up the interior. So you turn on the ignition and leave the engine running while you pop back inside. Only to hear the sound of your car being driven off'¦
Vehicle theft and crashes increase at this time of year. Picture: Getty ImagesVehicle theft and crashes increase at this time of year. Picture: Getty Images
Vehicle theft and crashes increase at this time of year. Picture: Getty Images

Car theft, crashes and credit problems all increase at this time of year. Here’s a few tips to help you avoid problems.

Warming up the car

Every winter, countless people warming up their car find out the hard way just how quickly it can get stolen. “Keys in car” thefts occur outside the home, shops, post boxes, by cash machines, even at petrol stations.

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These aren’t unlucky coincidences either. At this time of year, opportunistic thieves know people are more likely to be a little careless, so they’re on the prowl, looking for a chance to pinch your vehicle. And when it comes to making an insurance claim, you might find you get a frosty response.

All isn’t lost though. While most insurers include clauses in their contracts about leaving your car unattended with the keys in (or even open), you can still appeal if your claim is turned down.

If you’ve left the car unattended on the road, your case is shaky, but if it’s on your driveway, it’s by no means straightforward. Factors like whether you have a gate, if your driveway is visible and how close you were to your car can all help you stand a better chance when it comes to making a claim. As soon as you’ve reported the matter to the police, note down as much as you can about what happened. The more information you give, the better your chance of winning.

Bumps and crashes

Frosty weather always results in insurance claims going through the roof. If you have a bump – or worse – your insurer will look closely at what went wrong. So keep your distance and drive carefully. If you hit black ice, experts recommend taking your foot off the accelerator, not braking and gently guiding the steering wheel in the direction you want to go.

Many people contact me about no claims bonuses after winter crashes. What can be particularly annoying is if you mention a claimable incident to your insurer but opt not to claim. The fact that an accident has occurred makes you more of a risk in the eyes of the insurer so this can have an impact on your no claims bonus.

Vehicle on hire

Lots of us pay for vehicles by hire purchase these days. These agreements can be useful, but are often not understood well by the people that sell them. If you’re in a dispute over a fault with a car, HP firms will often tell you to sort it out with the garage direct. Don’t be pushed around. The HP firm is responsible for sorting out repair issues for the duration of the vehicle. If they don’t, make a complaint through

Body modifications

If we get a spell of bad weather, it can make sense to put on snow tyres. But don’t forget to tell your insurer. Even though you’re doing the right thing, we’ve seen a few cases where insurers have claimed that putting on expensive tyres is a “modification” to the vehicle and therefore your policy is invalid if you haven’t mentioned it.

If you’ve got a problem involving an insurance or credit claim, get help at