Winter tire car insurance discounts in Ontario may be months away

Published: January 6, 2016

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Since January 1st, 2016, drivers in Ontario have been able to get auto insurance discounts for installing winter tires as part of a government initiative. The controversial government ruling means auto insurance companies are mandated to offer money off premiums for those who put specialized tires on their vehicles this cold season.

However, while the mandatory discount rule started the first day of this year, many consumers will have to wait months and some until the end of 2016 to see any savings.

There seems to have been confusion about when the discounts will happen. Some consumers expected the discounts to be felt immediately, but actually the savings will come whenever a policy is renewed, which for some could be the end of this year. Insurance providers point out that it makes sense for the discounts to take effect when a policy is renewed as existing policies that have already been paid for cannot be discounted.

“If your policy was purchased in October and doesn’t renew until next October…that discount will be added onto the policy at renewal next year,” said Pete Karageorgos of the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

“If you have a crash or a claim and it’s discovered that you didn’t have snow tires and you misled your insurance company, odds are that you’ll lose the discount and you may even suffer additional repercussions,” Karageorgos said.

The mandatory discount has been criticized by government opposition as a face saving tactic after the liberal office failed in a promise to reduce auto insurance premiums by 15 per cent by 2015. Instead premiums have fallen just over 6 per cent since 2013 and with the winter tire discount consumers can save an additional 2 to 5 per cent.

However, the cost of actually installing new tires would actually offset any savings, leading to some critics saying the government’s measures are nothing more than lip service to Ontarian drivers who pay the highest auto insurance rates in Canada.