Ontario motorists who use proper Winter tires will receive a financial break in the form of mandatory insurance discounts thanks to a new initiative by the Ministry of Finance.
Earlier today, Minister of Finance Charles Sousa held a press conference at the Canadian Tire store on The Queensway to make the announcement that all insurance companies in Ontario must provide a discount for drivers who use Winter tires, beginning on January 1, 2016.
There is no mandate of how much that discount must be, so the percentage of discount is being left up to insurers. There is no indication that the discount given will offset the cost of installing Winter tires.
Advocates of the use of proper Winter tires in Ontario for safety reasons should note that this is an effort to make car insurance more affordable rather than to ensure the safety of all Ontario drivers by mandating that all vehicles on the roads use Winter tires. This despite Sousa’s acknowledgement that “We have known for a while that those cars that are equipped with Winter tires by far out-perform the others.”
When I asked why the emphasis on the cost of insurance aspect rather than actually moving to make Ontario’s roads safer, Sousa responded that because there are some individuals and businesses who do not use their vehicles all year long, “we want that decision to be at the indiscretion of the individual.”
Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Ron Fellows was on hand to guide Minister Sousa through a series of driving exercises to showcase the performance difference between all season tires and proper Winter tires in adverse conditions. An internationally recognized racing champion, Fellows knows more than most how important using the correct tires for the conditions can be. Fellows compliments Minister Sousa for planning to reduce the cost of insurance premiums by reducing the number of weather related “wrecks on the road”.
Fellows agrees with the concept that consumers need to be able to make their own choice. Especially in the case of someone who lives downtown and doesn’t commute and leaves their vehicle in the garage when the weather is bad.
I totally get that there is a case for condo dwellers who have no storage space and don’t drive when the weather is nasty, but is this really a topic where we should be making exceptions? I say no.
Minister Sousa encourages all drivers to approach their insurance company to find out how much of a discount they will receive and emphasizes that it is important to shop around, as not all discounts will be equal.
While this program is definitely a step in the right direction to keeping our roads safe when the temperature drops below 7 degrees, it is still falls short of the money that could be saved by making Winter tires mandatory as it is in other provinces.