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Car insurance : ice and snow brings its toll of collisions

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The current icy spell has led to a 23 per cent jump in car insurance claims as cars slip and slide into other vehicles, kerbs, barriers, police cars and even a wild boar.

An analysis of claims taken by the AA’s Cardiff call centre shows that the most common snow and ice-related incidents are collisions within moving traffic.  Common among these are tail-end collisions at traffic lights or roundabouts and sliding on bends into oncoming vehicles. The second highest count of claims was for bumps with unattended parked cars.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says that snow and ice brings a startling variety of collisions.  “While hitting other cars is by far the most common, also high on the list of mishaps is striking snow-covered kerbs, which can cause expensive damage to wheels and suspension.

“Trees, lamp posts, telegraph-poles, barriers, bollards, grass embankments, walls, fences and hedges have also all brought unfortunate drivers to an abrupt and chilly halt.  An unlucky 13 ended up in ditches.”

Some accidents seem to be just bad luck.  One customer left his parked car only to find that it had slid down a steep hill into a fence.  Another started to reverse her car out of her drive and skidded into the path of an oncoming snow plough, while two others returned to their cars to find that snow ploughs had wrecked them.

Three customers found that the weight of snow on their garage or car-port roof caused the structure to collapse on top of their cars.

Possibly the most bizarre claim was for a customer who tried to avoid a ‘large animal’ on an icy country road, but skidded and hit it.  The animal was a wild boar which picked itself up and ran off, leaving the car very badly damaged.

“When there is widespread snow and ice, the proportion of claims where the icy conditions are a contributory factor increases significantly.  Although the number of claims increased by 23 per cent, in all nearly a third of claims during the recent spell of severe weather related to snow or ice,” Mr Douglas points out.

“Fortunately, most people are driving more slowly than usual in such conditions so the majority of claims are at a relatively slow speed and damage tends to be less costly to repair.”

Quote-unquote: some icy insurance claim highlights:

– Slid down drive and hit my own garage, damaging my wife’s car inside

– Had to abandon my car and returned next morning to find the side had been taken out by a snow plough

– Hit a pile of frozen snow cleared off the road.  It was as solid as a concrete block and completely wrecked my car

– My car slid down a hill on its own – I think it was nudged by another car.  It hit a fence

– ‘I reversed, skidded and hit side of spouse’ (presumably, in her car!)

– Skidded on black ice, hit the kerb, bounced off a tree, hit another car and ended up in the ditch.  The accident cause a multiple collisio

– I tried to avoid a large animal standing in a country road – it seemed dazzled by my lights.  I braked but skidded on ice and hit it.  It turned out to be a wild boar, which ran away but my car was very badly damaged

Slither, slide and bump: a week of AA snow and ice car insurance claims

Type of claim* Number
Collisions in traffic 210
Collisions with parked, unattended cars 104
Hitting kerbs 43
Hitting walls, fences or hedges 34
Hitting lamp posts, road signs, telegraph poles or bollards 32
Ending up in a ditch (13), tree, (11) field or embankment 31
Collisions or incidents at home** 20
Number of cars that overturned 8
Collisions with buses 5
Collisions with police cars 3
Collisions with snow ploughs 3
Collisions with cyclists 2
Collisions with buildings 2
Collision with a wild boar 1
Other collisions / unspecified 101
Total 609

AA winter driving advice

-Heed police advice and don’t drive unless you must, in badly-affected areas

-Make sure your tyres are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.  If worn, replace them (the AA recommends 3mm minimum tread depth during winter – the legal minimum is 1.6mm)

-If you fit winter tyres (not studded tyres), which perform better in snow and ice, there should be no increase in premium and no need to tell your insurer, provided they meet your car manufacturer’s specifications and they are fitted by a competent garage or tyre centre.  If you are driving in some European countries, winter tyres are mandatory

-Drive slowly in as high a gear as possible, which provides better traction.  Allow plenty of space between your car and the vehicle in front (at least a 10-second gap on icy roads) and avoid sudden braking, acceleration or steering movements

-Don’t be tempted to leave your unattended car warming up on the drive: dozens of cars have already been stolen off drives this year.  A claim for theft of an unattended car with the keys in it is unlikely to be successful

Source : The AA Press Release