Warning to drivers

The British Insurance Brokers’ Association is warning drivers not to leave car engines running while defrosting windscreens as many insurers will not pay if the car is stolen.

Most motor insurance policies now have a specific “keys in car “ or “vehicle left unattended” clause and exclude claims in these circumstances.

In addition, there will be a ‘reasonable care’ clause, whereby the insurer may reject a claim on the grounds of the policyholder being ‘reckless’ in not safeguarding the vehicle.

BIBA urges consumers to be aware that there are a number of situations that could leave them at risk:

· Leaving the keys in/on the vehicle or in the ignition.

· Leaving an unlocked vehicle unattended.

Vehicles are most vulnerable when people are paying for petrol or are outside the family home.

Waking up on a freezing cold morning, it can be tempting to save a few extra minutes by starting the engine and warming the vehicle up while you nip back inside to finish getting ready. But, from experience, BIBA knows that many motorists who do this may be at risk from ‘frosting’, which is when opportunist thieves steal the vehicle with the keys in the ignition, while the windscreen is being defrosted.

There are a number of exclusions that can lead to the policyholder not being able to claim for the stolen vehicle and BIBA’s top tips for ensuring drivers don’t face this problem are:

· leave enough time to defrost the car properly

· stay with the vehicle at all times when defrosting

· never leave the vehicle unattended (however briefly) with the keys in/on the vehicle

· never leave the vehicle unlocked, or with an open window, whilst unattended

Motorists are advised to contact their broker if they need more information on the clauses that are in their policy.