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Tire Guide

Winter-tire insurance discounts are tempting, but there are conditions

Published November 22, 2013
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Q: I install four winter tires on my car in November and remove them in April. Why won’t Intact Insurance give me a break on my car insurance for this?

There’s ample evidence that winter tires are safer during the winter season than all-season tires and, therefore, reduce the risk of a collision. What is your view on this issue? What companies do offer a winter-tire discount?

Gilles Gratton, vice-president of corporate communications for Intact Financial Corporation, replies:

Over the last few years, Intact Insurance focused its efforts in offering each of its customers the car protection they require at a price that reflects their unique personal experience.

Rather than assigning a customer to a specific group or class of drivers, we take into consideration a multitude of variables that may differentiate one driver from another, including the safety features associated with each make and model of a car.

While we recognize the safety benefits of using winter tires, Intact Insurance offers discounts only for safety features or devices that are permanently installed in or on a vehicle.

Eric Lai adds:

Winter tires perform better than all-season tires in the cold and are mandatory in Quebec. But don’t leave these on year-round. In warm weather (above 7C), snow tires may produce longer stopping distances than all-season tires.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada doesn’t keep track of which companies provide a winter-tire discount. Searching online, I found Belair, CAA, Desjardins and The Personal all offer a 5-per-cent discount for having four snow tires installed during winter (November through March).

The potential downside of taking this discount is a collision claim might conceivably be denied if you don’t have snow tires installed when required.

When comparing insurers, the bottom-line price you pay for equivalent coverage is what’s important, rather than any particular discount that might be offered.

Q: I have a 2002 Chevy Tracker with 225,000 km that I’d like to keep a bit longer. However, rust is eating through the bottom part of the driver door and the frame just below it. I hope it’s not going to fall apart on the highway.

Is there somewhere they can perform a structural integrity test? Is it too late for rustproofing?

A: Vehicle inspection stations, for certifying branded salvage vehicles as rebuilt after repairs, are listed on MTO’s website: mto.gov.on.ca.

Your vehicle isn’t branded so you can go to any mechanic for an inspection and opinion.

New sheet metal can be welded or riveted to cover rust damage. I’d advise an oil spray after repairs are done, as there’s not much point rustproofing a hole.

Email your non-mechanical questions to Eric Lai at wheels@thestar.ca. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.

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