Last week’s cold weather is estimated to have caused tens of thousands of accidents and potentially cost insurers more than £35 million.

Insurance companies says that over the six days of snowfall, more than half of all insurance claims it received were snow- and ice-related.

Using its figures and scaling them up in line with the company’s market share, the AA says the weather could have caused as many as 28,000 accidents.

The second day of widespread snowfall – February 28 – was the busiest for insurers, with around 50 percent more claims than normal and 66 percent of those blamed on the weather. On Saturday 3 March, however, the number of accidents had returned to normal, although a massive 78 percent of them were down to the icy conditions.

On Monday 5 March, meanwhile, several drivers claimed for damage caused to their vehicles after they were forced to abandon them.

The AA’s insurance director, Michael Lloyd, likened the weekend’s roads to bumper cars.

‘As the week wore on with more and more snow falling across most parts of the UK, many drivers appeared to be staying off the roads,’ he said. ‘But for those who did have to drive, it was more like fairground dodgems. The chances of being involved in a collision were much greater than on a normal day.’

Lloyd also addressed motorists’ fears that insurers would deny claims from drivers caught in red weather warning zones – a rumour widely spread on social media.

‘Rumours that insurers would deny claims from drivers caught in severe Met Office warning zones were just one journalist’s fanciful line that took off on social media,’ he said. ‘It just isn’t true.’