In Ontario, the winter season is undeniably in full swing! Seeing your yard covered in a blanket of white may be a bittersweet feeling; now you can enjoy your favourite winter activities, but it also means you have to regularly shovel and de-ice your driveway. Winter can also impact your driving. Icy roads can cause slippery conditions that threaten your safety. To combat and protect yourself against these biting Canadian winters, you may be considering switching to winter tires.
Whether you’re still mulling over the purchase or have already made the switch-over from your summer tires, we’re sharing our expertise on how winter tires can not only impact your safety on the road but also your insurance rate!
What are Winter Tires?
Winter tires are an important aspect of improving driving safety during this chilly season. Winter tires are tires that are specifically designed to provide traction and withstand harsh weather conditions including ice, snow, and slush.
Unlike all-season tires which can lose their grip on the road at 7 degrees Celsius, winter tires continuously grip to the road, even in severe weather conditions. The tread depth, tread patterns and the tread rubber of winter tires are unique and specifically designed to thrive in winter conditions.
Winter tires can be distinguished from all-season tires because they have a symbol of a peaked mountain with a snowflake on the rubber. If the tire doesn’t have this symbol, then you can’t be sure that it was rated for winter conditions.
The Safety of You and Your Passengers
Winter tires have a shorter braking distance than all-season tires. In fact, the Canadian government says winter tires can shorten the braking distance by as much as 25%. Harsh winter conditions can greatly increase the likelihood of auto accidents due to the possibility of skidding and low visibility. Since winter tires grip the road more effectively, as a driver you have increased control of your vehicle, serving as an added layer of protection when driving in unfavorable conditions.
It’s important to invest in new winter tires every 3-4 years since the treads on the tire wear out over time. Eventually, this can reduce their effectiveness on winter road conditions. Also, avoid mixing and matching winter tires with different tread patterns. Instead, purchase your winter tires as a set to ensure your vehicle responds to the conditions consistently.
For best performance, plan to have all four tires changed to winter tires and have them changed back to your summer tires as soon as the temperature outside remains consistently above 7 degrees Celsius. Most garages will change your tires for anywhere between $60-$100, and this typically includes balancing the tires and checking pressure levels.
Winter Tires and Auto Insurance Rates
Since January 2016, the Ontario government requires insurance companies to offer drivers a winter tire insurance discount. This means that when you invest in winter tires, you benefit from a reduction in your auto insurance rates.
You’ll need to show your auto insurance provider proof that you have winter tires. The discount is minimal (from 1 to 3 percent) depending on the insurer. Fortunately, many insurance providers will automatically renew your winter tire discount every year, so you don’t have to show them proof annually.
To qualify for a reduced auto insurance rate, some auto insurance providers require you to have your winter tires from the start of the winter season till the end. Typically, this range is from November 1st to April 1st. Regardless of this recommended date, it’s important to have your winter tires installed before the first snowfall. Be prepared and you’ll reap the benefits of peace of mind on the road and savings on your auto insurance!
Talk to an Insurance Broker
An insurance broker is a trusted advisor who can guide you through the process of finding the right insurance policy. They communicate with insurance providers, gather information, and present you with personalized coverage options. They are experts who can answer your questions about how auto insurance works and clarify other aspects of your policy.
Depending on the insurance provider, you may learn that winter tires can affect your auto insurance policy. But an insurance broker will advocate for you to access all the auto insurance discounts that you’re eligible for, saving you time and money!
At Keller & Associates, our team of insurance brokers has the experience, expertise, and dedication to outstanding client care to help you find the right coverage for your vehicle. Get in touch and discover insurance solutions that fit your life and budget.