Winter Tires - Law & Insurance Benefits

Car driving on a snowy road

We've officially entered into October- the month of cozy sweater, Thanksgiving dinners, excited trick-or-treaters, autumn colours and pumpkin spice everything! That also means Old Man Winter is hiding right around the corner and it's time to give thought to some winter treads before you find yourself slip-slidin' away! The roads become increasingly treacherous through the winter months, particularly when the temperature drops below ten degrees. Ice and snow can make the highways difficult to drive at best and a complete nightmare on the worst days. There are plenty of benefits for car owners who are using winter tires on their vehicles.

The Big Benefits Of Winter Tires

Obviously, the biggest advantage for drivers who have winter tires is that their vehicles are safer on the roads. Winter tires provide an extra layer of grip, even on icy surfaces. Some winter tires have studs that can be used to dig into the hard layer of ice. With material like this on tires, there is very little chance of a driver losing control on an icy road. Thus, the best reason to get winter tires is to make sure the roads are as safe as they can be for drivers at winter.

Winter tires offer great value for money, too. Winter tires can be used for years, as long as they stored in a dry place. The basement is the perfect option, as they are out of the way, but ready when needed.

However, it is also true to say that purchasing winter tires can affect the insurance premium. In Ontario, insurance companies are legally required to give discounts for drivers who purchase and fit winter tires. This came into effect at the beginning of 2016, although many people will not see a change in price until they renew their insurance at the end of the year. Insurance reductions for the use of winter tires could be as much as 5%! Considering the average cost of insurance for a vehicle, that can add up. There are over 9.3 million drivers on the roads in Ontario alone. The aim of this insurance reduction is clearly to make roads a safer place.

Laws On Winter Tires In Canada

While not a legal requirement in every province, all Canadian provinces do recommend the use of winter tires. At the very least, most require all season tires through the winter season and a some permit the use of studs for road use (check the laws for your local  area to confirm that studded tires are permitted).

For instance, in Ontario studded tires are allowed from the 1st of October to the 30th of May. This is the time of year when heavy snowfall and thick ice on the road is common. With studded tires, drivers are able to maintain a firm grip while driving.

Quebec is perhaps one of the strictest provinces when it comes to winter tires. In 2007 a law was passed that required all motorists to have four winter tires fitted to their vehicle. Winter tires must be used in Quebec between December the 15th and March the 15th. Winter tires must also be marked with a snowflake and mountain on the tire wall. This shows that they are permitted for safe use during the winter months.

Considering The Need For Winter Tires

The need for winter tires depends on where the driver lives and what conditions they will be exposed to. In rural areas, winter tires are a particularly good idea because the roads can be even more dangerous. It is important that motorists can keep a grip on the iciest mountainous and hilly roads. This is one of the reasons why some mountain regions in Canada permit the use of chain tires.

Studded tires can be useful for thick ice and snow. However, drivers must be aware that they will give less grip on slush and asphalt.

Best Time Of Year To Buy Winter Tires

Car owners may want to consider the insurance benefits of winter tires when considering whether they should make a purchase, particularly if they live in Ontario. Different insurance providers have different cutoff lines for when the tires need to be fitted to qualify for the reduction in cost. One insurance provider might require the tires to be fitted by December while another may need them fitted by November. As such, drivers should think about purchasing tires in October. This is the earliest time they generally go on sale and will also ensure motorists can gain access to insurance reductions.

Difference Between All-Season Tires And Winter Tires

Drivers may look at whether to buy winter tires or all season tires and wonder what on earth the difference is. Buying all season tires is like trying to get the best of both worlds. All season tires are what will typically be provided with a car purchased straight from the factory floor. They are designed to be used in the summer months and light snow conditions. The key word there is ‘light’ because that is all the tires will be capable of. If there is more than a light covering of snow on the road, drivers will feel the car slipping and sliding. Similarly, these tires are not fit for severely hot conditions. To accommodate for both seasons, the tires are designed to not be optimal in extreme conditions.

Winter tires provide grip even at the lowest temperatures. With thicker and deeper treads, winter tires give drivers more control of their car.

Worth The Change?

In 2014, there were over 150 deaths on Ontario roads between the months of December and April. This is when the roads tend to be covered in snow and ice. It would be unsurprising to learn that there were more fatalities at this time of year. However, that’s not the case. On average, the lowest number of fatalities occurred in February while the highest number occurred in September. This stat illustrates that drivers are taking more precautions through the winter months, leading to fewer accidents. In other areas of the world, winter results in an increased number of road collisions. Clearly, the laws for winter tires are helping reduce the impact in Canada, and the insurance discount should act as an incentive to bring even further improvements.