Winter Tire Car Insurance Discount

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Winter tire savings

Across Canada, insurance companies recognize those who make an effort to drive safely, especially during the winter months. Most providers offer a winter tire insurance discount to customers in certain provinces who install winter tires within their specified timeframe.

In Ontario and Alberta, auto insurance discounts for winter tires usually get you up to 5% off your annual premium. But be sure to keep your receipt to show your insurance agent proof of purchase and installation.

While a brand new set of winter tires can be costly (a set of four can cost close to $1,000), it’s by no means an annual expense. While they should last you for several years, the insurance discount you’ll reap will be recurring each year.

Many retailers also offer rebates for select brands when you buy a complete set of four tires. This can be an instant dollar amount rebate or percentage off your order, depending on the seller.

On top of improving traction and braking distances, combining a snow tire insurance discount and a tire rebate can earn you savings. In fact, not installing winter tires can be an expensive car insurance mistake to make. According to the RATESDOTCA auto quoter, a 35-year-old male living in downtown Toronto sees his lowest quoted premium decrease from $2,729 to $2,592 just for opting to use winter tires — a savings of 5%.

Benefits of winter tires

Winter tires weren’t always as essential as they are today. It wasn’t until all-season tires underwent greener design changes based on government fuel efficiency guidelines that a new type of tire was created altogether. But winter tires as we know them today are well worth the investment. They’re different from all-season and summer tires because they’re built for cold weather below 7 degrees Celsius and provide optimal driving performance through harsh winter weather conditions like ice, snow, and slush.

Summer tires are built for the opposite: dry, warm weather conditions. While all-season tires offer a middle ground, they’re ideal for warm and wet road conditions. In other words, they may not offer enough traction on a frigid, snowy winter day. Some of the main characteristics that make winter tires optimal for winter driving in Canada include:

  • Deep tire grooves for creating traction with snow and reducing braking distance by up to 40%
  • Sipes on tire pattern for added traction in all directions
  • Soft, flexible rubber that improves vehicle handling in temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius

Are winter tires mandatory in Canada?

Though winter tires aren’t mandatory in Ontario or Alberta, they’re highly recommended by provincial auto insurance regulators and are the first thing you should consider when getting your vehicle ready for winter.

Provinces that do mandate winter tires include British Columbia (on select roadways) and Quebec. Failure to drive with winter tires throughout specified dates in these provinces will result in a fine of $121 in B.C. and up to $300 in Quebec.

When to install winter tires

Installation dates depends on the province you live in and/or the insurance provider offering the winter tire car insurance discount.

In B.C., winter tires must be installed while driving on certain highways with a high amount of snowfall from October 1 to April 30. Quebec’s winter tires dates are required from December 1 to March 15.

Otherwise, each individual insurance company has winter tire dates that must be followed in order to get the discount.

For example, if you’re hoping to get a winter tire discount with TD insurance, you’ll have to comply to the details of its offer specifically with that company. TD insurance winter tire dates span from December 1 to March 30 in Ontario.

Similarly, the CAA insurance winter tire discount applies when you install tires by November 20 and keep them on until April 15. However, make sure to check your provincial insurance division, like CAA in Alberta, to ensure your policy has a winter tire insurance incentive.

Allstate Insurance also offers a winter tire policy discount for drivers in Ontario and Alberta, exclusively. Chances are that your provider does, too. If not, it might be time to compare auto insurance rates across different companies to see if you can gain more savings.

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Replacing winter tires

It’s important to keep in mind that winter tires don’t last forever; they have to be replaced eventually. In Ontario, tires should be replaced every 10 years, or once their tread depth reaches 1.5 millimetres, whichever comes first. If your tread-wear indicators (the rubber bars in between the main tire grooves) are physically touching the pavement, that’s also a sign it’s time to replace your tires.

However, because traction is of higher concern than normal in the winter, you may want to replace winter tires even sooner. For example, in Quebec, where winter tires are mandatory, winter tread depth should not drop below 4.8 millimetres. Keeping an eye on your tire performance is just one way to stay on top of your winter car maintenance, in addition to getting a proper tune-up prior to the first snowfall.

Should I downsize winter tires and rims for safety and added savings?

Sometimes, winter driving safety can be amplified by downsizing your winter tires and rims, which lowers the cost of your purchase. This means choosing a tire size smaller than the size your vehicle’s manufacturer intended.

Opting for a smaller rim diameter and narrower tire can save you money and increase safety by cutting through snow more efficiently and providing more traction than a wider tire. But check with your dealership or tire retailer before compromising proper function of the key safety functions of your vehicle, like its braking system and turning clearance capabilities.

Winter tire storage

Adequately storing winter tires during the off season can be hassle. It’s recommended that you clean and bag your winter tires before storing them in a cool, dry location.

If you have storage room in your home (e.g., basement) or garage, it can make the job easier. If not, you can ask your dealership if they have space to store your winter tires throughout the spring and summer seasons.

While it can prove to be a bit of a challenge, storing your winter tires properly is far less arduous than dealing with the aftermath of a vehicle collision. Losing traction on the road and getting into an accident during the winter can mean paying your deductible and having your car insurance premium increase at renewal. Not to mention any physical injuries that could result from a collision.

The safety and savings that winter tires offer make them an obvious choice for your seasonal driving experience. Prevention is key when it comes to driving in a Canadian winter. Weather conditions can be unpredictable and equipping your vehicle with winter tires lowers your risk of an accident each time you get behind the wheel.

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Don't waste time calling around for auto insurance

Use RATESDOTCA to shop around, and compare multiple quotes at the same time.

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