James Walker: yellow warnings for your no claims bonus

The cold can make motorists more careless about security
The cold can make motorists more careless about security
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Car thefts, crashes and claims problems all increase at this time of year. Here are 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, by shops, postboxes and cash machines, and even at petrol stations.

At this time of year, opportunistic thieves know people are more likely to be a little careless, so they’re on the prowl. 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.

Bumps and crashes

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

I get loads of people contacting 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 or PCP deals. These agreements are often not understood too well by the people that sell them. If you’re in a dispute over a fault with a car – like it failing to start for example – finance firms will often tell you to sort it out with the garage direct. Don’t be pushed around. The finance firm is responsible for sorting out repair issues for the duration of the deal. If they don’t, make a complaint through Resolver.

Modifications

If we get a spell of bad weather, it can make sense to put on snow tyres, particularly if you live in the country. But don’t forget to tell your insurer. 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. We take a dim view of this, but avoid the problem by letting them know.

Who to turn to

If you’ve got a problem involving an insurance or credit claim, get in touch through our website, email yourstories@resolver.co.uk or visit Twitter @WalkerResolver or facebook.com/resolvercouk