Drivers who leave their car running to defrost while they return to their warm homes are risking becoming victims of 'frost-jackers' and might find their car insurance will not cover them if the car is stolen.
uSwitch.com warns that the 41 per cent of UK motorists who leave their car unattended with the engine running while it de-ices are running the risk of having it stolen by opportunist thieves.
For one in 10 car owners, it does not even occur to them that someone might be waiting to steal their car if they go inside while it warms up, while almost half of those who do so think that keeping an eye on it from inside their home is sufficient.
A more wary 16 per cent admit they are concerned about leaving their car vulnerable to thieves, but they do it anyway.
uSwitch.com warns such drivers that car insurance providers are unlikely to show much sympathy to customers who leave their cars outside for the taking, so they could be left with no car and no insurance money to replace it.
Drivers also run the risk of violating anti-pollution laws which can result in an immediate fine for leaving the car idling for an unacceptable period of time.
On the other side of the coin, almost half of motorists admit to setting off for work in the morning without thoroughly de-icing their car first, putting themselves and others at risk, and risking a £1,000 fine for driving with impaired visibility.
Commenting on the findings, Mark Monteiro, insurance expert at uSwitch.com, said: "Leaving your car unlocked with the engine running is an open invitation to opportunist thieves. The icy weather provides the perfect climate for car thieves to target unattended cars and motorists must take every precaution to avoid becoming a victim of ‘frost-jacking'."
Drivers should not give into the temptation of staying inside while the engine warms the car up, Mr Monteiro warned, as "insurers are likely to take a dim view on a claimant who has left themselves vulnerable to crime in this way."
"Using a proper windscreen scraper and de-icer spray is the most sensible way of clearing an icy windscreen. It is vital that you have complete visibility before setting off on a journey. Getting up that little bit earlier on a frosty morning to adequately prepare the car is a small price to pay for the safety of you, your passengers and other road users."
© Fair Investment Company Ltd