Since 2016, all insurers in Ontario have been required to provide discounts to customers installing winter tires. The reason for this mandated change was essentially to improve safety on Ontario’s roads during the treacherous winter driving season. 

If you’ve experienced a Canadian winter, you’ll know all too well the hazardous conditions that can be caused by snow, ice, hail and freezing rain; installing winter tires can reduce braking distances on an icy road by almost 50% according to the ‘Traffic Injury Research Foundation’ (TIRF) and this helps to reduce the likelihood of a costly and dangerous collision. 

How much do you save on insurance with winter tires? 

Ontarians obviously appreciate the safety aspect of driving in winter conditions given that around 69% had winter tires installed in 2019, however installing winter tires can also save you up to 5% on your car insurance as long as you can meet the stipulations of your insurer. 

If you have winter tires on your vehicle but haven’t yet checked, it would be worthwhile digging out your policy documents and checking the discount section, to see whether your discount has been applied and at what percentage. 

When should you put winter tires on? 

This is a good question as insurers will often have varying dates that they require you to have your tires changed by. It can range from the start of November through to the start of December and they’re also likely to specify for how long the winter tires need to stay on the vehicle for. Your broker should be able to advise you on the installation and duration times for your particular insurer. It’s always a good idea to think about booking in your tire changeover early and certainly before the first snowfall, to avoid the seasonal rush. 

What are the other requirements to be eligible for the winter tire discount? 

Generally speaking, you’ll need to consider the following to qualify for the discount:

  • All four tires must be winter tires, all-season tires won’t be enough. Winter tires are designed specifically to provide more traction during the extreme winter temperatures and road conditions we experience here in Ontario. You can look for the symbol on the side of your tire (a peaked mountain, also referred to as the ‘Alpine’ and a snowflake), that denote that it’s a certified winter tire. This symbol means that the tire meets rigorous snow performance requirements set by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada. 
  • This may or may not be an insurance requirement but for safety reasons, it’s preferable that all tires match in terms of brand, age and usage – having mismatched tires can result in various tread depths and patterns, affecting the handling of your vehicle in unexpected ways such as oversteering and understeering.
  • Some insurers may ask for proof of installation such as photos or a receipt from your mechanic.

Following winter tire installation, it’s recommended that tire pressure is checked regularly through the winter, ideally at least once a month, as tire pressure decreases along with the drop in temperature and this can cause them to lose traction on winter roads. A good time to do this is after the car has been outside in the cold overnight. 

How long should winter tires last?

In a normal year, a Canadian driver might travel around 20 – 25,000 kilometers on average and at least four months would be winter driving. On this basis we might expect to get four or five seasons usage from reasonable quality winter tires but there are lots of different factors that might reduce the lifespan of your snow tires and if you’re at all concerned, better to get them checked out by the professionals in fall. 

To get the most value from winter tires, being mindful of regular rotation, especially with a front-wheel drive vehicle can prevent uneven wear and prolong their life. 

What else can you do to prepare for winter driving? 

Winter tires are one way to reduce the chance of a collision, here are some of our other tips for staying safe on the roads in winter:

  • Check weather reports for road conditions before you set out on a journey and plan a route for a longer trip so that you know where gas stations are located;
  • Clear all ice and snow from the car before setting out;
  • Leave additional stopping space between you and the vehicle in front;
  • Always keep your fuel-tank at least half-full;
  • Do a maintenance check of your vehicle to ensure battery, lights, brakes and wipers are functioning properly and select a windscreen washer fluid with the lowest freeze rating. It’s also sensible to keep extra washer fluid in the trunk;
  • Always carry an emergency kit in the car in the case of an accident or breakdown. This can include items such as a blanket and spare clothes, shovel, snow brush, jumper cables, flashlight, water and non-perishable food items;
  • Ensure your phone is fully charged and;
  • Adding some weight in the back of a flatbed truck will help avoid rear-end skidding.

We believe money is far better in your pocket than your insurers and securing the full winter tire discount should really be as simple as talking to your insurance broker and they can handle the rest for you.

We have access to a wide range of car insurance providers. Before you renew, contact us to maximize your insurance discounts.