Drivers risk invalidating their insurance when they let their car defrost

Automotive lawyer Nick Freeman has previously warned that drivers should stay inside their vehicle when de-icing to avoid being caught off guard. He said drivers should “always check” their car while the engine is running and could risk invalidating their car insurance for leaving it unattended.

Car thefts are common in winter as thieves wait for drivers to turn on the ignition before pounce.

Mr Freeman said: “It can be tempting to get out of the car and let the engine run when de-icing the car.

“But if you’re on the road – rather than in a private driveway – that’s breaking the law.

“The Highway Code states that drivers must always maintain control of their vehicle when the engine is running.

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The British Insurers Brokers’ Association (BIBA) has also warned that leaving a car unattended to defrost could be a major concern.

BIBA said many insurers “will not pay the claim if the car is stolen”.

They added: “Waking up on a freezing morning, it can be tempting to buy a few extra minutes by starting the engine and warming up the vehicle while you head inside to finish getting ready.

“But, from experience, BIBA knows that many motorists who do this can be exposed to ‘icing’, which is when opportunistic thieves steal the vehicle with the keys in the ignition, while the windshield is being defrosted.”

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He said: ‘While it’s tempting to leave your car running with the keys in the ignition unattended on frosty mornings, experience tells us that’s not a wise move.

“Not only does this make your car an easy target for opportunistic thieves, but few insurers will pay if you haven’t taken reasonable precautions to prevent your car from being stolen.”

He added: ‘It could be frozen when you’re getting ready for work, walking into a store or dropping the kids off at school, with or without keys or fobs.

“Every time you leave your car engine on, unattended, you invite criminals to take your car away from you.”

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