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Will Tinted Windows Affect Your Auto Insurance Rate?

Aug. 20, 2021
5 mins
A white SUV with a roof rack

Provincial and federal laws determine how much window tint you can apply to your vehicle. Failing to comply with these rules can result in fines and higher car insurance premiums.

Imagine taking a road trip with no traffic on the highway and the sun shining down. To help make that drive more comfortable, you may have tinted your windows. However, that might not be allowed where you live, and there is a possibility it could lead to higher car insurance rates.

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Why tint your windows?

Tinting your windows after you bought your car involves having a layer of film installed on them. There are several benefits of getting your windows tinted. Here are just a few:

  • Reduce glare and heat — While sunset is a beautiful sight, it can be dangerous if there is a lot of glare and the visor does not block the light. Bright headlights from oncoming traffic can also cause glare at night. Not only that, but the car can heat up quite quickly when the sun’s shining, which means you will have to waste energy by cranking up the air conditioning.
  • Block ultraviolet (UV) rays — A little sun is good for your health, but too much can be harmful because UV rays can cause skin cancer. The U.S. Skin Cancer Foundation notes that skin cancer tends to occur more often on the left side of the body because drivers are more likely to be exposed through a window on the left side.
  • Keep the car looking new — There is a reason art galleries do not have many windows near paintings: the sun. The light can discolour paintings as well as the interior. While your car may not be considered a masterpiece, it is still worth a fair bit, and you do not want it to look faded.
  • Increase security and safety — Tinted windows will make it harder for thieves to break into your vehicle. It can also make it more difficult for thieves to see any valuables in plain sight.

The laws regarding tinting

Two levels of government — federal and provincial/territorial — have rules about tinting a vehicle’s windows. The federal government limits the amount of darkness on new car windows and mandates that 70% of light must be able to pass through. When the car is sold to you, your province or territory decides what changes are allowed.

Some jurisdictions do not allow any tinting, while others do. Alberta and Ontario do not allow the windshield to be tinted, but Quebec does allow a strip no more than 15 cm wide applied to the top part of the windshield. British Columbia allows a strip of up to 7.5 cm (75 mm) below the top of the windshield.

However, Quebec, Alberta, and Ontario do not allow the vehicle’s front windows to be tinted. There are no rules regarding the backseat windows or the rear window.

If you are pulled over, some police forces may check whether your vehicle complies by using a photometer. This gadget measures the percentage of light that goes through the window.

When you buy a new vehicle, you should not have to worry about the tinting since manufacturers must comply with the federal government’s laws. However, if you buy a used vehicle — even it is from a dealer — it is up to you to ensure you comply with your provincial or territorial laws. It is not the dealer’s responsibility.

Why there are laws around tinting

There are many reasons why provinces and territories have laws regarding window tinting. First, the police need to see through the front side windows to ensure everyone’s safety, checking to see if all the vehicle’s occupants are wearing seat belts and the driver is not texting behind the wheel.

Second, anyone reporting an erratic driver will need to be able to testify and confirm the identity of the driver who committed a driving infraction in court.

Third, pedestrians and cyclists need to be able to make eye contact with drivers before they proceed.

Finally, tinted windows can make it difficult for emergency workers to break a window when rescuing passengers in the event of an accident.

Your car insurance and tinting

It is not likely your insurance premiums will rise if you tint your windows as long as you comply with your provincial or territorial laws. However, since the laws vary across Canada, you may be ticketed in another province or territory if the tinting is illegal there, even though it is legal where you reside. For this reason, it is worthwhile to double-check the rules in the destination to which you are headed before setting off on your trip.

If you get into a collision in another jurisdiction and the tinting is not legal, it could affect how your insurance company deals with the claim since you are violating the law where the accident occurred.

Keep in mind that you must report any past traffic violations when you apply for auto insurance. When you are fined for tinting your windows, it will be added to your record and potentially result in higher premiums.

Craig Sebastiano

Craig Sebastiano is an award-winning writer and editor with more than a decade of experience in journalism, marketing, and communications. He’s written about a number of financial topics, including investing, real estate, robo-advisors, mortgages, credit cards, pensions, taxes, insurance, RRSPs, and TFSAs. Craig’s work has appeared in MoneySense, Morningstar, Benefits Canada, Advisor’s Edge, Job Postings, and Ryerson University Magazine. He has completed the Canadian Securities Course and is an avid do-it-yourself investor.

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