Get Snow Tires to Qualify for New Insurance Discount

This one is for all our Canadian friends out there! As you may know there has been a lot of talk about how to reduce auto insurance rates throughout Ontario. Though some companies already offer discounts for vehicles with snow tires, a province-wide mandatory reduction will achieve this on a larger level. It also helps make the region safer, and will likely have a huge impact on the number of collisions and fatalities Ontario sees during the colder months.

The New Rules Take Effect January 1
The mandated discounts begin January 1, 2016, but residents are advised to take action much earlier. Now is the time to be pricing the tires and planning ahead for purchase, so that the added safety benefits may be achieved as the first snows start coming. Each insurance company may offer a different reduction rate, and will have a slightly different application process for the discount. In other words, the sooner an individual gets in contact with their insurance company, the more-likely he is to see a reduced rate come January.

Benefits of Choosing a Snow Tire
Minister of Financing, Charles Sousa, visited Canadian Tire earlier this month to highlight some of the benefits and features of snow tires. All-season tires are designed to perform well under most circumstances. They handle heat, rain, and sometimes do well in light snow. However, the rubber that they are made from hardens when it’s cold outside, which reduces the tread’s ability to grab the road. The tread is also designed differently, to perform better when the roads are covered in snow or slush. Furthermore, winter tires have been shown to reduce the amount of time it takes to stop by as much as 25%.

How to Choose and Maintain a Snow Tire

  •  All four tires must be replaced. Regardless of whether a vehicle is all-wheel drive (AWD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD), vehicles still benefit from better tread while breaking, turning, and accelerating. Moreover, using different types of tires makes it impossible for them to work together, and the benefits are reduced.
  • Look for the mountain and snowflake symbols. Regular tires usually just have the letters “M” and “S” on them, for mud and snow. While they may perform adequately under traditional warm-weather driving, they’re not designed to handle Ontario winters. Those with the mountain and snowflake symbols have been approved for “severe snow service,” and are a much safer choice.
  • Check the air pressure at least monthly. Tires have to be inflated well to work properly, and cold air decreases tire pressure. This is why newer vehicles with tire pressure sensors will illuminate warning lights during a cold snap. For every incremental decrease of 10 degrees Fahrenheit (about 12 degrees Celsius), tires drop by about 1 psi. Even vehicles without modern monitoring systems see the same decrease in pressure, so owners must be vigilant in checking it independently.
  • Replace the tires when they’re worn or the season ends. Although snow tires can technically be used throughout the year, they don’t wear as well, and they don’t operate the same when it gets warmer out. Switching tires with the seasons has been likened to trading out snow boots for running shoes. While running shoes work during the winter months, they don’t provide the same protection and grip as boots do. The inverse is also true. Snow tires won’t likely wear out in one winter season with normal driving, so they can be kept for a second season and may be reused if properly stored. Monitoring tread-wear indicators, and changing tires as they reach the end of their life-cycle, is essential for safety.

National and International Safety Improvements have Been Noted
Many jurisdictions have made it mandatory for vehicles to have snow tires, and have seen a great reduction in the number of fatalities and accidents. For instance, 96% of the population in Quebec used snow tires before they became mandatory. Afterwards, that number increased to 98%. Deaths and serious injuries were reduced by 3%, and collisions dropped by 5%. In Germany, collisions dropped by more than 50%.
Ontario has not made snow tires mandatory, as some jurisdictions have, but switching to them during the winter months is a smart decision anyway. Moreover, with new insurance reductions available for those who choose the safer option, financial concerns are mitigated. Ontario residents are advised to check with their auto insurance provider to find out how to qualify for their discount.

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