Pokemon Go: insurers and police warn of risks

The sensible steps worth taking if you want to avoid expensive Pokemon mistakes

Pokemon Memorial Stadium
Pokemon Go is taking the world by storm, but as millions of gamers track and train their Pokemon, there have been stories of people who have run into serious problems in the real world. Insurers and police are now urging people to take sensible precautions when they play.

The game uses augmented reality, where players take their devices out into the real world, and look through the camera to see characters superimposed on the surroundings. It means being out and about with one eye at least on your phone - which could prove very costly.

1. Be aware of your surroundings
The advice comes after two men in California fell off a cliff while trying to catch Pokemon (both suffered what have been described as moderate injuries).

Richmond Police in South West London warned users: "Always be aware of your surroundings. That Pikachu will not expect you to run in the road, and Squirtle won't want you to swim in the Thames."

You don't even need to be somewhere particularly dangerous in order to have an accident - Reddit users have reported fractures from simply slipping over while playing. The Association of British Insurers warned: "Be aware of your surroundings – there is higher risk of slip and trip accidents if you don't pay attention."

2. Be alert to those around you
The insurers warn that while you need to have your phone out to play the game, it leaves your device exposed. The ABI points out: "displaying your mobile phone in public increases the risk of theft, so be careful about when and where you do it".

There have been numerous reports of phone thefts from people playing the game, and failing to notice they were being approached.

As Richmond Police put it: "Don't be a Drowzee and walk around with your head in a daze - always be aware of people who may be watching you to steal your phone or Charmander."

3. Be sensible about where and when you play

Gamers may be used to playing whenever the mood takes them, but going out at 3am to hunt Pokemon in an unfamiliar part of town - when you're not really concentrating on what's around you - could be dangerous. There have been reports of attacks, as well as thefts.

4. Don't drive and play

This may be the most important advice. It is illegal to use a mobile phone to game while driving and doing so will increase the risk of serious accident. There are already reports of accidents across America from drivers stopping suddenly, accelerating unexpectedly, and in one instance, driving into a tree.

If you have an accident while using your phone, you could face points on your licence and a fine. You may also invalidate your insurance, so you have to pay for the cost of repairs yourself.

Richmond Police warn: "Don't Pokemon and drive. That egg won't hatch if you're driving. Remember it's onyx-acceptable and if you're caught - you risk a £100 fine and 3 points on your licence."

As Ross Penstone-Smith, Policy Adviser for General Insurance at the ABI, says: "Playing Pokemon Go shouldn't mean letting go of your senses."

Police getting calls from trespassers who are playing Pokemon Go

The UK postcodes deemed 'high risk' by car insurers

The UK postcodes deemed 'high risk' by car insurers