Survey shows almost half leave cars to 'warm up'47% say they leave their car running unattended

31 January 2011

Defrosting car windscreen

Almost half of motorists say they leave their car running to warm up

A new survey has found that almost half of motorists admit to leaving their vehicle unattended to let it warm up, thus invalidating their car insurance in the event of a theft.

The survey, carried out by on customers visiting their website for car insurance, found 47% of people said they leave their car outside to defrost and warm up while they nip back indoors to keep warm.

Find out which are our recommended best car insurers

£12.7m worth of vehicles stolen when unattended estimated that £12.7m worth of vehicles are stolen when an owner goes back into the house while their car engine is still running.

Defrosting car windscreen

Many are unaware that leaving a car running invalidates insurance in the event of a theft

The trend of leaving cars idling is more common during the colder winter months as drivers wait for demisters and heated windscreens to clear frost and ice.

However, many are unaware that leaving the keys inside the car can invalidate their car insurance cover.

Robin Reames, claims director at, said: “Leaving a car with keys in the ignition provides a perfect opportunity for thieves, and we as motorists are especially likely to do this at this time of year.

“People have an ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude and think it’s fine to quickly nip into the house. However, in reality, it can and does happen everywhere in the UK.”


New female driver in Vauxhall Corsa

Car insurance premiums have risen by over 50% for drivers under 25

Spy box could reduce car insurance premiums for young drivers

According to the latest figures from the AA, car insurance is continuing to rise at a rate of 6% in the last quarter.

However, a new revolutionary system being referred to as the ‘spy-in-the-car box’ could lower premiums for those who drive safely and sensibly.

These boxes use GPS tracking to measure acceleration, braking, cornering and speed, and can feed the information directly back to insurers. The boxes are claimed to be the size of two cigarette packs and fit under the bonnet of the car.

According to the RAC, six insurance companies are working with the scheme to help battle rising car insurance costs for motorists under the age of 25. This age group has seen premiums rise by 50% in the last six months.


Get more from Which? Car

Get more from Which? Car

Magazine: Which? Car magazine is the UK's only independent car guide (we don't take ads, so our reviews are totally impartial). The Winter 2011 issue is the first of the new look Which? Car, packed with more new and used car reviews than ever before. We've dedicated more pages to in-depth reviews of all the major cars on sale today, helping you to make the most educated decision about buying a new or used car. It's on sale now, priced at £4.99, available from Sainsbury's, Tesco, WH Smith, Martin McColl and good independent newsagents.

Email: Stay in touch with all the up-to-date car news, hot deals, latest first drives and reviews posted on our website each week. Sign up to the Which? weekly email to receive our free Friday bulletin.