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Common Car Insurance Questions Answered

November 5, 2012

With winter coming fast, many drivers have questions about how cold weather affects car insurance, both the rates and what happens in the event of a claim. These common insurance questions surface during the winter months, and knowing the answers ahead of time can save you a lot of money and keep you prepared.

How Do Road Conditions Affect Fault Determination?

Road conditions can have a huge impact on your driving and can be a major factor in an accident. Many people believe that poor visibility or icy roads mean that you won’t be found at fault if an accident happens. That may not be accurate in many situations. In fact, if you are driving in Ontario the Fault Determination Rules will be applied in the same way regardless of adverse road conditions. That means that if you hit someone from behind, even if sliding on the ice was a factor, you will still be found at fault. In other provinces fault determination will be a result of each insurance company’s rules, but in many cases you will find that you can still bear the fault even with winter road conditions as a contributing factor.

Are There Winter Safety Features That Can Reduce Rates?

Most insurance companies will in fact offer a reduced rate for people who purchase and install winter tires on their car. Good winter tires can reduce the risk of an accident greatly, providing more traction on the road. They can be costly, but insurance companies help encourage drivers to purchase them by discounting insurance rates for those who spend the money and put the effort into increasing their safety on the road during the winter months. If your current insurance company doesn’t offer a discount for winter tires, it’s worth shopping around to see if you could save.

Should I Insure My Motorcycle During the Winter?

Most motorcycle owners put their bike in storage over the winter months since the road conditions are too dangerous to ride. But that doesn’t mean you should cancel your insurance policy. There are many things that could happen to your bike during the winter, including theft, vandalism, and other sources of damage. Your insurance policy protects your investment even when it’s not on the road, but if you cancel it that protection is lost. Most motorcycle policies have the down time during the winter built into the rate. In other cases, your insurance company may offer an “in storage” option on your policy. Before you cancel, talk to your insurance company about keeping your bike covered during the winter.

Is Winter Weather Related Damage to My Car Covered?

Winter weather can result in a number of different types of damage to your car. High winds, heavy snow, and ice can all take their toll. Many types of damage from winter weather are covered under your insurance policy, usually under your comprehensive coverage which provides for damage caused by non-accident incidents. It’s important to note however that not all forms of weather damage are covered. Rust that results over time due to salt on winter roads isn’t covered by insurance, nor is damaged caused by the failure to properly winterize your vehicle with the right fluids. Many forms of accidental damage, however, such as a cracked windshield as the result of ice, are likely to be covered if you carry comprehensive coverage.

If I Drive Less In Winter, Can I Save On Insurance?

Some cars are best driven during the summer months, and may be driven much less during the winter if at all. If you choose to carpool or use public transportation during the winter months you may be eligible for a reduction in your insurance rates. That will depend on your insurance company’s underwriting rules and how your car is currently rated. Talk to your insurance broker or agent to find out what your options might be for reducing the premiums. Other insurance companies may offer better rates to those who cut down their driving during the winter. Take the time to shop around and compare rates, you could get a better deal for your driving needs elsewhere.

During the winter months, the risk of an accident increases and it’s even more important that you make sure your insurance is up to date and you have all the right coverage. Before you head out on slippery winter roads, know your insurance coverage and prepare yourself and your vehicle. It’s also a good time to find out how you could be saving on your insurance premiums for added safety features or reduced time on the road.

  • albert

    looking to find out if your company does insurance for snomobiles.

  • merwan irani

    Hi: I insure three cars with three drivers with excelent driving record, and my house with Belair insurance. Without going through the whole process of individual quotes, could you please tell me which insurance company provides the cheapest insurance rates, as a general guideline. Thanks


  • Nick – InsuranceHotline.com

    Hi Merwan,

    It all depends on your driving profile and the type of cars being insured. We are not licensed insurance brokers; therefore you’ll need to get a quote on http://www.insurancehotline.com/car-insurance-quotes – for all three cars.


  • Nick – InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello Albert,

    Unfortunately, we do not provide quotes for snowmobiles.

    Thank you.

  • jean mcmanus

    Hello.. My husband and I rented a car recently. When we returned the car the rental company noticed a small crack in front passenger drivers side. We explained that this must of happened when we skidded off the road into a snow bank as the car only had radial tires and not winter tires. We had full comprehensive insurance with the rental company. We were told it was a good thing we had taken out the comprehensive insurance. However a week later we received a letter saying the insurance company would not cover the damage because we did not report the accident to the police. We did not have an accident we simply slid into some snow. We told the rental agency this when we returned the car. What can we do?

  • Nick – InsuranceHotline.com

    Hi Jean,

    You may want to escalate the issue and speak with the head office of the rental company. However, you may have signed a disclaimer with the rental company that indicated that all accidents must be reported to the police. One thing to note: You are not required to report an accident to the police if the total damage is under $1,000. This $1,000 limit includes the damage of both vehicles.

    You are best to check with your existing insurance company for further assistance.