Nova Scotia

N.S. mandatory winter tire auto insurance discount a possibility

The Nova Scotia government has taken note of a new piece of legislation in Ontario that mandates all auto insurers in the province must offer a discount to people who buy and install winter tires on their vehicles.

At present, it isn't clear if any auto insurers in Nova Scotia offer a winter tire discount

Winter tires offer better performance than all-season tires during the winter. (iStock )

The Nova Scotia government has taken note of a new piece of legislation in Ontario that mandates all auto insurers in the province must offer a discount to people who buy and install winter tires on their vehicles.

Finance department spokesperson Marla MacInnis told CBC News in an email the province "will look at their initiative and see if it is something Nova Scotia wants to adopt.‎"

The Ontario legislation takes effect Jan. 1, 2016 and does not spell out what the discount should be. At present, some auto insurers already offer winter tire discounts in the province, usually with a value of five per cent.

The province hopes the legislation will lead to more competition among insurers, resulting in an increase in the amount of discount offered, which would lead to lower insurance premiums for customers.

In Nova Scotia, it isn't clear if auto insurers currently offer discounts for customers who have winter tires.

"There may very well be, I'm not currently aware," said Amanda Dean, the vice-president Atlantic with the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The owner of Pudgey Tire and Automotive in Dartmouth likes what Ontario has done.

"It saves the customer some money, but it's ultimately saving them (the insurers) money," said Lorne Walford.

Winter tire benefits

Winter tires offer better performance than all-season tires during the winter. This is because they have a different compound, which allows the rubber to be softer during temperatures below 7 C, which helps improve the traction and grip. They also have better treads.

Research has also found vehicles with winter tires can stop 40 per cent faster than vehicles equipped with all-season tires during winter conditions, said Dean.

Walford thinks the idea is a no-brainer for the auto insurance industry.

"Of course they want to see it. It's going to increase their bottom line by not paying out the [claims] money," he said.

Dean is a little cooler to the idea. She says if Nova Scotia was to enact similar legislation, she'd want to see lots of consultation with insurers, as well as research done on driver behaviour.

However, Dean applauds the discussion the topic is generating.

"Anything that brings awareness to safer driving and road safety in general is always a good thing," she said.

For tire retailers, there'd be one other benefit to the legislation.

"I'm sure it would probably increase sales somewhat," said Bill Campbell, a manager at Cheapy Tire in Dartmouth.

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