Do winter tyres count as a modification? Will your insurance company use them as a way of trying to wriggle out of a claim if you’re involved in an accident?
You can’t be too careful over things like this, so I picked up the phone to my insurance company, Zenith, to find out whether I needed to notify them about my newly-fitted Falken winter tyres.
For one thing, not only will they change the way my car handles, they’re also a speed rating lower than the previous tyres I had fitted. That means I’ll be limited to 130mph, rather than the 149mph the old rubber was capable of. Not really an issue in the UK, especially with an old Ford Puma.
The man in the call centre told me: “It’s not a necessity [to inform us about fitting winter tyres] but I will make a note to say that you told us.
“You can phone us to tell us when you take them off but it’s not necessary.”
We’ve heard that not all insurance companies are as easy-going, however. Some have, apparently, refused point blank to insurance cars fitted with winter tyres, or used it as an excuse to ramp up premiums.
In response to this, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has published this list of insurance companies and whether or not they need to be notified about a change in tyres.
If you’re unsure, speak to your insurance company. Don’t feel pressured into giving them extra money – some will charge admin fees for making amendments, so ask if it’s really necessary for a change in tyres.
And, if you change your wheels to a set of non-standard ones at the same time as changing your tyres, this usually counts as a modification, so don’t be surprised if your insurance company uses it as an excuse to charge you extra.