Ontario auto clients should start thinking soon about their seasonal tire change, an executive with Gore Mutual suggests.
“As we get further into fall and temperatures begin to drop below seven degrees Celsius, motorists should definitely begin thinking about changing to winter tires. In southwestern Ontario, this change in weather typically happens around mid- to late-October,” Gavin Brown-Jowett, Gore Mutual’s vice president of personal lines and SME Transformation, told Canadian Underwriter Tuesday.
Canadian Underwriter asked Cambridge, Ont.-based Gore Mutual for its position on winter tires.
“We incentivize our customers to put on winter tires by offering a discount on their auto insurance for using them. To qualify for this discount, we ask customers to use their winter tires from November to May,” said Brown-Jowett.
In Ontario, regulations passed in 2016 require auto insurers to give discounts for winter tires. The exact discount and criteria vary among insurers in Ontario.
It is important to note the distinction between mud and snow tires and those with the snowflake symbol, said Brown-Jowett.
To qualify for a discount with Gore Mutual, the client must have winter tires with the snowflake symbol. Mud and snow (M+S) tires don’t qualify.
Tires marked M+S are not the same thing as winter tires, Transport Canada warns. Proper winter tires have a pictograph of a peaked mountain with a snowflake. Those are designed for use in severe snow conditions, advises Transport Canada.
On the other hand, mud and snow tires may not always be suitable for severe snow conditions, says Transport Canada.
“Winter tires are created for driving in sub-zero degree weather and are rigorously tested for traction in snow and ice,” Brown-Jowett told Canadian Underwriter Tuesday. “Mud and snow tires are best suited for temperatures that are over seven degrees Celsius.”
Some motorists may confuse M+S, or all-season tires, with proper winter tires, said Elliott Silverstein, director of government relations for CAA Insurance, in an earlier interview.
The approach varies across Canada.
In B.C., winter tires are mandated on certain highways, but that province’s regulations say mud and snow do qualify. In Quebec, winter tires are mandatory from Dec. 15 through March 15. Manitoba Public Insurance offers an incentive program that lets motorists get low-interest loans (prime plus 2%) of up to $2,000 towards buying winter tires as well as towards some of the associated costs.
It is also important to adjust driving to the road and weather conditions, CAA’s Silverstein said.
“Winter tires are not a licence to drive aggressively in the winter,” he said. “People who have winter tires may feel that they can drive a bit faster or have a little bit of a shorter braking time, but, in reality, the winter tires are designed to help you grip the conditions.”
“We really underscore that winter tires are really one of many mechanisms to really have a safe vehicle in winter,” added Silverstein.
Feature image via iStock.com/Goodboy Picture Company