Take 'snow' chance with the weather

The heaviest snowfall seen in more than a decade has left much of Britain in frozen limbo, and drivers and those impacted by travel delays have been urged to check their insurance.

Airports across the country have reported severe delays and cancelled flights, and many would-be travellers are unable to even make it to check-in because of problems with distruption rail and bus services, and impassible roads.

According to the Association of British Insurers, most travel insurance policies will typically only pay out for delays of eight or 12 hours, or a period of time specified in the policy. If you are eligible to claim, then you could be compensated around £50 for each subsequent period of delay, up to a maximum limit.

Nick Starling, director of general insurance at the ABI, says: “Severe weather conditions cause great disruption and inconvenience, and insurance is there to help soften the blow. People who have suffered flight delays or damage to their home or vehicle due to the weather should contact their insurance company for advice.”

If your flight has been cancelled due to the bad weather then you may not be covered by your insurance. Contact your insurer directly to find out whether your policy covers this type of occurrence or not. If you missed your flight because of the bad weather, then again you are best checking directly with your insurer.

The heavy snow and icy roads have also caused hazardous driving conditions. According to MORE TH>N, motorists are 50% more likely to break down in the first three months of the year, with cold weather often resulting in flat batteries and cars turning over but refusing to start up.

The Met Office has advised drivers to avoid using their cars unless their journey is absolutely necessary. If you are driving, then make sure you check your anti-freeze levels and carry de-icer in case the locks freeze. It’s also important to check the tyre, battery and wiper blade condition, make sure all the lights are fully functioning and double check oil and fuel levels before setting off.

You should also take plenty of warm clothing, food and water, as well as a spade. Keep your mobile phone with you and make sure you know your breakdown provider’s emergency telephone number.

Nick Dear, spokesman for MORE TH>N, says: "Drivers should be aware of the weather conditions when planning a journey, reduce speeds and drive with extra caution. In especially poor conditions, don't drive unless absolutely necessary."

If you do have an accident as a result of current weather conditions, then this will be covered under comprehensive motor insurance policies. However, the cost of breakdowns or vehicles that fail to start is not covered. Motorists are advised to contact their breakdown or roadside assistance provider, whether they subscribe directly or through their motor insurance policies.

Motor insurer esure has reported double the number of claims calls as a result of the snow.

Adrian Webb, head of communications at esure, says: "This is a major weather incident and despite the warnings some people have clearly had to try to drive to work.

"The situation has been made much worse because garages and rescue services are also overwhelmed too and they are having to make their way to broken-down cars in exactly the same terrible conditions."