Winter tyres – what you have to tell your insurer

Winter tyres – what you have to tell your insurer
Winter tyres – what you have to tell your insurer

As the weather begins to chill and forecasters predicting snow for some parts of the country this month many drivers will be considering switching to winter tyres.

The specially developed tyres are designed to improve safety on the roads by offering better grip in cold and slippery conditions than standard “summer” rubber.

But there remains much confusion around whether fitting them constitutes modifying your car, and whether you need to tell your insurer if you have changed from summer to winter tyres.

Do I have to tell my insurer if I fit winter tyres?

To help clear matters up the Association of British Insurers (ABI) asked its members to set out exactly what their policy is when it comes to fitting winter tyres.

Read more: Are winter tyres worth it?

In almost all cases it means that drivers are free to fit winter tyres/wheels without informing their insurer and it won’t affect the level of cover they are offered.

According to the ABI’s winter tyre commitment, only eCar, Southern Rock and Swiftcover require customers to inform them if they change wheels.

winter tyres insurance
Winter tyres can help improve grip in snowy and wet conditions. Picture: Shutterstock

Some insurers stipulate that the tyres and wheels must be fitted according to the manufacturer’s instructions and are in a roadworthy condition – both of which are fairly obvious moves anyway. Some companies also stipulate that the cover only remains the same as long as the wheels/tyres match sizes fitted by the manufacturer, either as standard or optional equipment.

What’s different about winter tyres?

There are two main differences between winter and summer tyres – the tread pattern and the material they are made of.

Read more: Winter tyre review: Continental WinterContact TS 860

The rubber on winter tyres features more treads to channel away the extra water and slush encounter in winter months. There are also “sipes” – tiny jagged grooves in the tread wall that compact snow, which actually improves braking as nothing sticks to snow like snow.

Winter tyres are also made from a high-silica rubber compound that stays softer, and therefore grippier, below seven degrees Celcius.

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