Car maintenance for winter: top tips to help you save money on Insurance
Winter can be a challenging time for drivers. Reduced daylight hours paired with increased rainfall affects visibility, and driving conditions deteriorate as temperatures drop.
With all these extra dangers to consider, you might be wondering how you can insure yourself, keep safe during the colder months, and how these seasonal changes can affect your insurance premium. Not a problem: here are some ways to be cost-effective in winter.
How does winter affect your insurance premium?
Winter weather conditions and ice on the roads significantly increase the risk of having a car accident. If you make a claim in the winter months you might have to not only pay excess, but find that when it’s time to renew, you end up paying a higher premium. However, there are some simple ways in which you can avoid this happening to you. You can save money on your premium by undertaking maintenance, and making modifications to your vehicle in preparation for winter.
Safety measures to take in winter
One of the first things to think about is your tyres. They are the only parts of your car that are in contact with the road, so it’s vital that they’re in the best possible condition. Check the tread and, if it is below 1.6 mm (the legal limit), change your tyres. Better still, change them before they reach the limit (3mm is recommended).
To take tyre safety to the next level, consider fitting winter tyres. These are designed to increase grip in snow and ice. While winter tyres might not reduce your premium, they could certainly help you to avoid an accident. Be sure to contact your insurer if you are considering fitting winter tyres, in case your policy has any restrictions on tyre size (i.e. if you’re using separate wheels, check whether the size has to be the same as your usual wheels).
One of the most common consequences of a cold night is a cracked windscreen. For a repair, there may be no excess, or a nominal one, but there will be a larger excess for a replacement screen. Protect your windscreen from cracking by covering it overnight, or use a car cover to protect the entire vehicle for maximum protection.
Covering your car will also reduce the time it takes to begin your journeys. When a car is left uncovered, many people return to find a layer of frost and iced windows. Many of us start our engines and leave our cars unattended while they ‘warm up’. But the car could easily be stolen and, because it has been left unattended, your insurance policy could be invalidated. All of this inconvenience can be solved by simply covering your car at night — these simple foresights can make all the difference.
Making savings sooner
There are plenty of ways to prevent accidents that might result in claims, or bump up your premium when you renew. But what about making savings as you go along? This is where a black box is extremely useful. This device monitors your speed and braking, as well as your location. If you are a careful driver, fitting a black box means more frequent reviews and therefore more opportunities to save on your premium. This is especially beneficial for young or inexperienced drivers.
Whilst fitting a black box mostly works in your favour, many now take weather data into account. With the driving risks posed by rain, snow, ice, and hail you could be penalised for driving in bad weather — so keep an eye out for this.
What about going on holiday in winter?
With the many campsites to visit in the UK, winter camping has seen an upturn in popularity. Driving a car on its own in winter is difficult enough, but camping means either a trailer, a trailer-tent, or a caravan inevitably come with you. If you think it’s difficult to tow in summer, in winter the danger only increases. So make sure you have taken extra safety precautions to make sure you’re car is suitable enough to make the journey should the weather take a turn for the worse.
Before you think about going away, make sure you are covered on your car policy for towing. If your car is not insured for towing and your trailer causes damage to another person or their property, you could be in trouble. Additionally, be aware that your tow bar could be categorised as a modification (as could a roof rack), so be sure to check the details of your policy in regard to such additions. There is no reason to linger on this however: Club Care Insurance offer special rates for tow car owners.
Whether you are towing or not, our advice is to avoid driving in dangerous conditions. If the roads are iced over or if there is heavy snow, don’t risk getting behind the wheel. If you’re already out, and the weather conditions suddenly change, try to stop safely as soon as you can.
While saving money is important, it’s best to make sure you have as much cover as possible during winter — for your own peace of mind. Choose a fully comprehensive policy which will cover any accidental damage to your own vehicle, as well as cover any damage to a third party. Add breakdown cover, too, which will save you having to pay a recovery service if you get stuck in the snow or ice.
Finally, if you’re in doubt about whether any modifications you’ve made to your car in preparation for winter are covered, talk to your insurance provider. Knowing the details of your policy means you will be in a better position if you need to claim.