Winter tyres: Insurance should not be an issue, says AA
With some meteorologists forecasting the UK's third harsh winter in succession, car manufacturers and tyre companies are widely advocating the fitting of winter tyres.
According to the AA, winter tyres effectively improve traction, braking and cornering on wet or icy roads, at temperatures below + 7 degrees Celsius.
But last winter, there was confusion as some motor insurers considered the fitting of winter tyres to be a ‘modification’ warranting an increased premium or, at worst, withdrawal of cover.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says: “I believe that this was a misunderstanding by some insurers. It is ludicrous for an insurer to penalise a driver for fitting winter tyres, given that doing so both underlines a responsible approach to safety by the driver as well as reducing the likelihood of a collision.”
Mr Douglas says that provided the winter tyres and wheels to which they are fitted meet the car manufacturer’s specification and are fitted professionally, there should be no need to inform your insurer. “But if you do tell your insurer, there should be no change to your insurance premium.”
He adds: “If your car insurance is due for renewal it would be worth checking with your insurer first. If they aren’t happy about you fitting winter tyres, you could move to an insurer that is.” He points out that AA Insurance doesn’t need to know if its customers are fitting winter tyres.
However, Mr Douglas does not believe that winter tyres should be compulsory in the UK as some commentators have suggested.
“Most parts of the UK rarely suffer the kind of prolonged winter weather that would justify making them a legal requirement. But they do make sense if you live in more remote parts of the country or where severe winter conditions more commonly persist.
“It has to be an individual choice and users should not have to worry about whether their insurance will continue to be valid,” he says.
“If drivers don’t fit them they should make sure that their standard tyres are in good condition and have at least 3mm tread depth; and adapt their driving style to suit the weather conditions – for example keeping a much larger gap from the vehicle in front and avoiding heavy acceleration and sharp braking.”