The temperature continues to drop across the country and with the growing likelihood of snow and ice on the roads it’s a sensible time to think about fitting winter tyres to your car.
These are developed specifically to deal with the lower temperatures and reduced grip situations that winter brings and seem like a fairly obvious safety choice.
However, there are still some mixed messages about whether switching your tyres affects your insurance or even invalidates it, and whether you need to tell your insurer if you have fitted 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 found 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.
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.
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.