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Spotlight: Winter tires earn you a mandatory discount on auto insurance: But is it worth it?

What you should know about before purchasing winter tires
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Installing winter tires on your vehicle will earn you a discount on auto insurance. But what does that actually mean in dollars and cents? Is it worth your while?

In 2016 the Ontario Government made it mandatory for insurers to offer a discount to policy owners who install winter tires. The goal for earning back a percentage of insurance costs for seasonal treads is to make roads safer for motorists while curbing some of the high costs of premiums.

The exact value of the discount? Well, this is a bit of a grey area. Officials didn’t set a mandatory amount, so ultimately the percentage you save on your policy is at the discretion of your provider (another reason to shop around for the best rates and incentives available).

Tip: While your insurance broker must give you a discount for installing winter tires whether you ask for it or not, the discount on your insurance may not apply to the whole policy. It’s prudent to ask about specific details surrounding this incentive.

What are your requirements to earn a discount?

  • The tires have to be installed on your vehicle and not just sitting in your garage.
  • All four tires must be winter tires.
  • For safety, don’t mix different tire sizes and tread patterns.
  • Your tires must be certified as winter tires. Look for the severe service winter tire symbol on the sidewall (a peaked mountain with a snowflake in the middle). This designation lets you know the tire meets snow traction performance requirements set by the Rubber Association of Canada.
  • All-season tires, usually marked M+S (mud and snow) on the sidewall, don’t count as winter tires. These tires are safe for most conditions but aren’t designed specifically for sub-zero temperatures and don’t qualify for the discount.

Are winter tires worth the discount?

Speaking monetarily, the short answer is no. In Ontario, motorists spend on average $1500 annually on auto insurance. If your insurance provider offers you a 5% discount on your insurance premiums for installing winter tires, that equals a discount of $75 a year. Say your winter tires carry a cost of $140 each plus tax you would be shelling out over $630 for the tires themselves (not to mention additional costs if you plan on purchasing winter rims).

Although you’d save wear on your all season or summer tires, with these numbers, you’re looking at upwards of 8 years for this discount to cover the cost of new winter tires.

But not all incentives are about breaking even in the end.

Don’t let these insights sway you from making your final decision about winter tires. Costs aside, when you purchase winter tires you’re making an investment in safety for yourself, your loved ones, and the motorists you share the road with.

An easy way to make up for the cost of winter tires

A simple solution to offset the cost of winter tires is to find ways to save on your overall policy premium. You can do this by shopping around and comparing the most competitive auto insurance rates using simple, free online tools like BayToday's Insurance Hotline.