Tips for winter driving

Drive safely and avoid breakdowns during winter by following these handy tips.


Cover you can count on from Halifax

With darker days and chillier conditions, driving during the winter can be more challenging.

It should be reassuring to know you’ve got the right level of car insurance. We offer three levels of cover to suit different needs, as well as optional extras – including RAC Breakdown Cover.

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Halifax Car Insurance is underwritten by a panel of insurers and is arranged and administered by BISL Limited. When getting a quote online you’ll be taken to BISL Limited’s online site with a new privacy and cookie policy.

Caring for your car

Is your service history up to date?

To keep your car in good working order, it’s important to have it serviced, following manufacturer advice. It’s normal to service a car every 12,000 miles, or each year – whichever comes first.

By servicing your car, you’ll:

  • sustain the performance and reliability of your car
  • reduce the risk of breaking down
  • improve fuel economy

If you’re not sure when your car was last serviced, check your vehicle logbook, or contact the garage who completed your last service. If you’re overdue, get yourself booked in.

Basic car maintenance

To prepare your car for colder weather, complete the following checks.


Adding a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze to your car’s cooling system will lower the freezing point, protecting your engine during winter.

Screen wash

You can buy screen wash containing anti-freeze, helping to keep water jets flowing and your windscreen clear.

Your car battery

Running heating, windscreen wipers and lights will put more pressure on your car battery during winter. Batteries usually last 3-5 years, so is it time for an upgrade?


Make sure your lights are functional, replacing any bulbs which aren’t working. As well as helping you to see in the dark, lights help other drivers to see you too.


Check your engine oil levels regularly to keep things running smoothly. Too much or too little oil can damage your engine over time.


Check your tyres regularly. Replace tyres as they approach legal minimum tread depth, or even switch to winter tyres during the coldest months.

Make sure you’re ready for anything

Carry these essentials

  • A fully charged mobile phone and charger or power pack
  • An ice scraper and de-icing spray
  • A torch with spare batteries
  • Sat-nav or a road atlas
  • An empty fuel can
  • A first aid kit
  • Sunglasses

Also handy in an emergency

  • Warm and waterproof clothing
  • Reflective warning triangles
  • A sleeping bag or blankets
  • A high-vis jacket or vest
  • A small snow shovel
  • Snacks and drinks
  • Jump start leads
  • Sturdy shoes

Driving safely in winter

The main thing is to take it slow:

  • Plan extra time for each journey, just so you’re not rushing.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel for your journey, accounting for any unexpected delays.
  • If your car has an automatic gearbox, you should have a recommended winter mode. Check your vehicle handbook for details.
  • If your car has a manual gearbox, ease your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin.
  • Don’t set off until you’ve demisted the inside of your windows. Heat and air conditioning can help with this, reducing condensation.
  • If visibility is poor, remember to use your fog lights. Just make sure you turn them off when conditions improve so you don’t dazzle oncoming traffic.

When you park up and before you leave your car, make sure you switch your windscreen wipers off and don’t leave them on ‘auto’. If the blades freeze to the screen, the wiper motor and blades could be damaged when you next turn the car on.

Driving in snowy or icy conditions

  • Keep your distance from other cars – stopping distances could be 10x longer in icy conditions.
  • Stick to main roads where you can – these are more likely to be gritted and clear of ice or snow.
  • Allow time for de-icing your car thoroughly before you set off. Police can issue a fine and points on your licence if your visibility is impaired.
  • Driving in a higher gear should help you to maintain control in icy conditions.
  • If you hit a patch of black ice, keep both hands on the wheel and try to manage your instinct to slam on the brakes. Instead, stay calm and slowly try to steer into the skid.

Insurance and breakdown cover

If you have an accident or your car breaks down, having the right cover should give you some peace of mind. You can buy breakdown cover on its own, or as part of many insurance policies.

See car insurance options

Why choose Halifax car insurance?

Our standard cover gives you:

With comprehensive cover, you’ll also get:

Plus, you can boost your cover with:

Our standard cover gives you:

  • Access to a 24-hour emergency claims helpline
  • The option to manage your policy online using My Account
  • 60 Days of European Union cover at the level you have at home

Third party and third party, fire and theft provides a basic level of cover.

With comprehensive cover, you’ll also get:

  • vandalism cover
  • approved claim repairs guaranteed for 3 years
  • access to a 24-hour emergency windscreen helpline
  • new car replacement within 12 months of purchasing a new vehicle
  • a courtesy car while yours is being repaired. Subject to eligibility and availability

Plus, you can boost your cover with:

Important information: terms, conditions and exclusions apply to all benefits. In the event of a claim normal excess applies and your no claims discount may be affected.

For more information please refer to the relevant insurance information document:

Comprehensive (PDF, 118KB)
Third Party (PDF, 209KB)
Third Party, Fire & Theft (PDF, 113KB)

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Chat to a member of the insurance team Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-6pm, or 10am-4pm on Sun and bank holidays. Call: 0330 018 6312

Frequently asked questions

  • Your insurer will award you with a no claims discount for every claim-free year of motoring. These can accumulate over the years, and could potentially earn you a discount on your future insurance premium costs. This is also known as a no claims bonus.

    Even after a single year you could save up to 25%. After 5 years, you could save as much as 39%.
    *Source: BISL Limited annual average as at March 2022.

    You can take your no claims discount with you if you switch to another insurer. Your new car insurance provider is likely to ask for proof of your no claims, which you can usually get from your previous insurer.

    How to give us your proof of no claims

    Drivers named on your insurance policy can also earn a no claims discount. This could help to reduce their car insurance costs in future.

    If you have an accident:

    • you’re likely to lose some or all of your no claims discount if the accident was your fault
    • your no claims discount might be unaffected if another driver was at fault and the cost of repairs can be recovered from their insurer
    • your no claims discount might be protected if you have comprehensive car insurance and it’s clear that you weren’t at fault. That could apply, even if the other driver is uninsured

    For an extra charge, most insurers offer the option to protect your no claims discount, even if you needed to claim.

  • Car insurance excess is the amount you'll need to pay towards a claim against your policy. An insurer will pay any remaining costs covered by an insurance policy.

    Here’s a really simple example. Imagine you’ve had an accident, causing £2,500 worth of damage to your vehicle. Your car insurance policy requires you to pay an excess of £250, which means your insurer will cover the remaining amount of £2,250.

    There are a few types of excess, and more than one could apply to each claim, depending on the terms of your car insurance policy. The most common are:

    • standard or compulsory excess – as the name suggests, this is the standard amount you’ll need to pay towards any car insurance claim and is set by your insurer
    • voluntary excess – many insurers will allow you to set a higher excess amount. Although this could reduce your annual car insurance premium, you’ll need to pay more if you need to make a claim. Make sure you’re realistic about what you could afford if you had an accident
    • age excess – younger drivers could be offered car insurance with a higher excess amount, based on their level of driving experience and insurer insight about accident statistics
    • glass or windscreen excess – some policies include a separate excess amount covering glass claims

    Excess costs can vary, depending on the policy features you choose. Generally:

    • increasing your excess amount could reduce your annual premium
    • reducing your excess might increase your car insurance premium

    Check the terms of your car insurance policy carefully, so you understand any excess costs associated with making a claim.

  • In addition to the level of cover you choose, there are several things which can affect the cost of your car insurance premium:

    • Your estimated annual mileage
    • Any existing no-claims discount
    • The group, age and value of your vehicle
    • Security features or vehicle modifications
    • Any amount of voluntary excess you choose
    • Whether you live near a crime or accident hot spot
    • Any named drivers who will also be using your vehicle
    • What you generally use your car for. For example, travelling for work
    • Where you usually park overnight. For example, off-road or in a garage
    • Optional extras, such as enhanced legal assistance, guaranteed replacement car cover, breakdown cover etc

    When shopping around for car insurance, make sure you check the terms and conditions carefully. Price is a factor, but also make sure you’re getting the level of cover you’re most comfortable with.

  • The Financial Conduct Authority have made some amendments to their General Insurance Pricing Practices (GIPP). New rules were introduced on 1 January 2022, meaning insurers must offer the same price to both new and existing customers.

    Previously, existing customers could face an increase in their premium costs when they received a renewal quote, sometimes referred to as a ‘loyalty penalty’.

    These new rules could result in lower renewal prices for existing car insurance customers. But, as insurers have a short-fall to make up, costs for new customers could be higher than they have been in recent years.

    It’s worth remembering that other factors could affect your car insurance renewal costs, including moving house, making a claim or changing your level of cover.

    If you’re an existing Halifax car insurance customer, you can access and manage your policy online at any time using the My Account service. This includes the option to manage policy renewals.

    If you’d prefer to chat to us by phone, call: 0344 209 0471

    Speak to a representative Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-6pm, or 10am-4pm on Sun and bank holidays.

  • Regardless of who was at fault, making a car insurance claim can lead to an increase in your premium costs. This usually accounts for a perceived increase in risk.

    Claims can also have an impact on your no claims discount (NCD), depending on:

    • the type of claim you’re making
    • whether you’ve chosen to protect your NCD

    Non-fault claims

    This is where the fault lies completely with someone else. For example, if your car is securely parked and another driver reverses into it, any damage caused would be their fault.

    As long as your insurer can recover the repair costs from another driver’s insurance company, or from the individual themselves, the claim will be recorded as a non-fault claim on your insurance history.

    In this situation, it’s unlikely to affect your NCD.

    Fault claims

    If you’ve caused an accident, that will be recorded on your insurance claims history.

    This could also be the case in situations where the blame sits elsewhere, but your insurer can’t recover funds from elsewhere. For example, if your car is vandalised and the offender can’t be found.

    In this situation, you could lose some or all of your NCD.

    If you’re hit by an uninsured driver

    If you have comprehensive car insurance, although the process will be more complicated, you should still be able to make a claim. However, you could lose some or all of your NCD.

    If you only have third party or third-party fire and theft cover, you might be able to make a claim through the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). An excess charge might apply.

    If you’re not around when an accident or incident takes place, and the person at fault leaves no information for you to follow up on, they’d be classed as an untraceable driver.

    In this situation, although it’s still important to contact your insurer, your first phone call should be to the Police. They might be able to gather evidence in support of a future claim.

    The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) handle untraceable driver claims made within nine months of the event. Again, an excess charge might apply.

    In claims where funds can’t be recovered, your NCD will be reduced, regardless of who was at fault:

    • five or more years of NCD will be reduced to three years
    • less than five years of NCD will be reduced by two years

    If you’ve chosen to protect your NCD with Halifax, you can make two claims in any three-year period without any impact or reduction. However, any further claims will affect your NCD.

Halifax is a division of Bank of Scotland plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC327000. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Bank of Scotland plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 169628.