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|Savings: $549 (19%)|
Car insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who install winter tires in late fall and keep them on until early spring. The discount is typically 5% off the annual premium, but it varies by insurer.
In Ontario, insurers must offer you a discount for installing winter tires. They are optional in most of Canada, with some exceptions. In Quebec, drivers are required by law to install them. Some roads in B.C. and northern Ontario also require winter tires or snow chains between Oct 1 and Apr 30.
You have to install a full set of tires (i.e., four) to qualify for the discount. Some people only add two tires to save money (either to the front or rear, depending on the car's drive system). Not only will you lose out on the discount, but going the hybrid route won't improve your car's handling.
You must notify your insurance company when you put on winter tires; they may even ask for proof.
Putting on winter tires on time is also crucial. If you miss your insurance provider’s cut-off, you won’t get the discount.
Winter tires are designed to work in the cold, which typically refers to temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius.
That might sound too warm for winter tires, but the rubber on all-season tires begins to harden at this mark, which means they don’t grip the road as well.
By contrast, winter tires are made from soft, pliable leather and have unique grooves that create traction with the snow and asphalt.
Winter tires are also narrower than all-season tires, which increases the pressure exerted and enables the tires to slice through snow and ice instead of hydroplaning.
When installed, winter tires decrease your braking distance by 30% compared to cars with all-season tires. They are marked with an Alpine symbol of a three-peak mountain with a snowflake symbol.
A 5% discount on your insurance premium sounds negligible at first, but the savings can add up.
Say you pay $1,744 annually for insurance (Ontario average). A 5% discount on your premium amounts to $87. After five years, you’ve saved $435.
Premium winter tires start at about $200 each and last four to six seasons. You’ve paid off half the cost of winter tires, which you can reinvest in a new set.
Furthermore, since you’ve avoided serious injury, your insurance premium has likely decreased, which adds up to even more savings you can put towards the cost of good tires.
Winter tires aren’t mandatory in most of Canada. Quebec is the exception. Drivers there must have winter tires installed between Dec 1 and Mar 15. Select roads in other provinces may also require snow chains, though there are usually fines for driving with chains outside of these routes.
Your insurance company will set the timeframe for when you should have winter tires to qualify for the discount. It’s usually between November and early April.
Here’s a look at the winter tire guidelines from some of the leading insurance providers in Canada. Before you put yours on, be sure to verify these dates with the insurance professional who manages your policy (your agent or broker).
|Insurance provider||Deadline to install winter tires||Deadline to remove winter tires|
|CAA||Nov 20||Apr 15|
|ECO||Nov 15||Mar 31|
|Jevco||Dec 1||Mar 31|
|SGI||Nov 30||Mar 31|
|Wawanesa||Nov 1||Apr 1|
|Zenith||Nov 1||Apr 30|
Here are some of the most common questions about the discounts insurance companies offer for installing winter tires.
The timeframe for keeping your winter tires on varies by insurer.
T.D. Insurance asks that Ontario customers have them on between Dec 1 and Mar 20. However, CAA Insurance Southwestern Ontario requires them to be on between Nov 20 and Apr 15.
Generally, insurers want you to keep them on between late November and early April.
October may not be too early for winter tires — it depends on where you live.
All-season tires are less effective in temperatures below seven degrees Celsius, so you may add them earlier if you usually face those temperatures in October.
For example, since 20221, B.C. requires drivers on Hwy 113 and Hwy 37 to have winter tires by Oct 12. Many Albertans use these roads, so they're also putting on winter tires by October.
CAA recommends following its 7-for-7 Rule: once there have been seven consistent days of temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius, it's time to put on winter tires.
However, check with your insurance company if your ability to access the winter tire discount will be impeded by putting on your tires earlier than their guidelines advise.
It is possible to put on winter tires too early in the season. By doing this, you risk premature wear since you're driving them in conditions they weren't designed for (the same is true for all-season tires). Insurance companies don't want you riding on tires that are in bad shape.
Check with your insurance professional to ensure you don't put yourself in a position where your insurance company could deny you the winter tire discount.