Drivers warned to be extra vigilant during bad weather

Article date: 8 January 2003

Drivers are being urged not to leave their cars unattended withthe keys in the ignition when heating up their vehicles during thecurrent cold snap.

Norwich Union, the UK’s largest general insurer, warnedthat not only does it make their cars attractive to opportunistthieves, but they may well find they are not covered by theirinsurance if they are stolen.

Many motor insurance policies – including NorwichUnion’s – state that policyholders should make surethey do not leave their keys on or in their vehicle when it isunattended to reduce the risk of theft in such cases. This approachwas backed by a Court of Appeal ruling two years ago.

Richard Alger, motor product development manager for NorwichUnion Insurance, said: “It’s very tempting in theseawful freezing conditions to leave your car engine running to warmit up and defrost while you nip back indoors to finish your cup oftea.

“Although the thought of sitting in a freezing car whileit warms up may seem like the worst in the world, it’s a lotbetter than emerging from your front door to find your cargone.

“And there is likely to be even worse news when you findout that your insurer will not cover your loss because you left thecar unattended with the keys in the ignition.”

Other tips for more safe and comfortable driving during thecurrent sub-zero temperatures include:

  • Only drive if your journey is absolutely necessary –consider taking public transport
  • Reduce speed and increase braking distances to avoidskids
  • Switch headlights on and leave extra time for journeys
  • Keep windscreens clean and washer bottle topped with screenanti-freeze to aid visibility in bad weather and check wiperblades are completely free of snow and ice
  • Avoid sudden movements of the steering wheel in snow or ice– don’t brake or accelerate suddenly
  • Give motorcyclists and cyclists a wide berth as they may haveproblems steering in adverse weather conditions
  • Use a high gear if driving on a slippery surface
  • Change tyres with less than 2mm of tread to ensure maximumsafety (legal limit is 1.6mm across three-quarters of thetyre)
  • Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include a tow rope, sparefuel in an approved can, shovel, screen scraper and de- icer,spare clothes, boots, blanket and first aid kit.

For further information contact Jenny Chapman at Norwich Unionon 08703 66 68 64/07775 822642

Notes to editors

  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer with a marketshare of around 16 per cent and is more than 1.5 times the size ofits nearest rival. It is also the largest personal linesinsurer.
  • It has a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses. It insures:
    • one in five households
    • one in five motor vehicles
    • more than 700,000 businesses
  • Norwich Union products are available through a variety ofdistribution channels including brokers, corporate partners suchas banks and building societies and Norwich Union Direct.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases are available on the Avivaplc website at
  • A selection of images is available from the Norwich UnionNewscast site at
  • An ISDN facility is available for studio quality interviews.Call the press office on 08703 66 68 68

For all life & pensions media enquiries 08703 66 68 73
For all other media enquiries 08703 66 68 68

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