Winter tyres: does your insurer need to know?

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As the British winter does its worst, some motorists in the UK may be considering equipping their vehicles with winter tyres. 

But, whether you have general insurance for your motor or need HGV or driving instructor insurance, should you tell your insurer about your winter tyres and will they count as a modification, making your policy invalid? After all, these tyres make a definite difference to the way your vehicle handles, whatever you drive. For example, you may find your maximum speed is not as high as your standard rubber tyres could do. If this means, say, an optimum speed of 130 mph rather than nearly 150 mph, that may be academic, especially in the UK. Nonetheless, it is still a change.

It seems that every insurer takes a different stand on this issue, with some saying you don’t need to call them when you fit and take off seasonal tyres while other firms take a harder line. Apparently, you may even find that some companies even refuse completely to insure any vehicle if it is fitted with tyres for winter roads. Equally, these fittings could be used as a reason for increasing premiums.

By way of response, the Association of British Insurers has now published a list of those companies who need to be told about the change of tyres, and those that are happy for you to make the change without informing them. The real lesson to be learned is that, if you are in any doubt at all, speak to your own insurer before you do anything else. Be warned that some charge administration fees for making any kind of amendment, so ask about this as well.

What’s more, if you take the decision to change your wheels to a set of non-standard models while you’re changing the tyres, this could also be deemed a modification and, again, could incur an extra charge. So, equally, the other lesson to be learned is that it’s worth being extra sure that you really do need winter tyres before going ahead and putting them on your vehicle.

If you are a motor trader fitting winter tyres, find out more about cheap traders insurance here.