Why did Intact Insurance find winter tires were not working?

Published: July 23, 2018



Each winter, drivers in Ontario are encouraged to install winter tires on their vehicles. Research shows the tires help grip icy and wet roads better and shorten stopping distances. In other provinces the installation of winter tires is mandatory, but in Ontario it is option in exchange for auto insurance discounts.

However, the largest auto insurer in the country says its data from customer winter tire use is troubling. Intact insurance says drivers with cold season rubbers “were having worse loss ratios” compared to motorists without winter tires installed. The information was presented by Jean-François Larochelle director of Intact’s data lab, who spoke during a webinar titled Insurance Analytics to Supercharge Performance

He admits the data was “surprising” so the company investigated to find the cause of the problem… were winter tires not as safe as numerous studies had showed them to be? Not quite and as usual the problem lay with drivers. Larochelle says “We were contacting people and saying, ‘Have you put on your winter tires?’” and many who had claimed to have winter tires installed actually did not.

“I don’t know if they lied or if they forgot to put winter tires on that winter,” Larochelle said.

In May, CAA Ontario discussed the benefits of winter tires. For customers, they are more likely to stay safe on the roads and pay less for auto insurance. There are also benefits for insurance companies in the form of reduced claims:

Indeed, the CAA Ontario says winter tires have reduced the number of claims being made. Drivers in the province are given discounts on their auto insurance for installing winter tires.

“Claims are reduced when people have winter tires on their cars, especially driving in climates like we have in Ontario,” CAA Insurance president Matthew Turak said Wednesday during a press conference at Toronto Union Station.

“As road safety advocates, CAA led the effort seven years ago to have an insurance discount for installing winter tires on your vehicle” in Ontario, said Elliott Silverstein, manager of government relations for CAA South Central Ontario.