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The Relationship between Your Tyres and Car Insurance- What You Did not Know

Here is the thing about insurance. We all get car insurance, religiously pay the premiums, but obviously, we don’t want to be in the situation, where we have to actually claim insurance.

Insurance is like getting a fire extinguisher – you buy it, but pray to God that you never have to use it. But often, prayer is not enough. A situation may arise (due to several reasons) where you have to make a claim to your car insurance company. How do you think your insurer will react?

Insurers Hate Pay Outs

No surprises there. No one likes being separated from their money. And it sometimes seems that insurers are at the top of that list. Never mind that you have paid them the periodic premiums, so what they are paying out to you (at least part of it) is your own money. Well, I guess we are being hard on them because well, they do have the tough job of making sure that it is a genuine claim. But all said and done, it is terribly tough to come away from an insurance claims discussion smiling. Your agent may point out several reasons why your claim cannot be paid out. Some of these reasons are directly related to your car tyres.

If you did not know how and why your car tyres can affect your car insurance, it’s now time to find out.

How Your Tyres Can Affect your Car Insurance

Well, it’s basically 2 ways. For some reasons, your tyres might invalidate your insurance policy. And there are some situations, where because of your tyres, your insurance premium gets bumped up. Let’s find out how.

How Tyres can Invalidate your Insurance

Basically, the insurance company states that your vehicle needs to be in ‘road-worthy’ condition at the time of the mishap to be eligible for the insurance cover. ‘Road worthy’ can mean a number of things and it certainly includes the tyres of your vehicle. The insurer’s logic is that if due to some reason (even those related to your car tyres), your car has been compromised, they will not honour your claim.

Your car tyres may be deemed as making your car ‘non-road worthy’ under the following conditions.

1. Wrong Fit Replacement Tyres

This does not apply to new cars with original equipment tyre fitting. After a period, when you change your tyres, it is best to stick to the original size specifications recommended by the manufacturer. To be completely safe, you can even opt for the same tyre brand. Original fitments have been carefully chosen by the manufacturer to ensure safe driving. And changing these tyres affects the vehicle’s handling, braking ability and other factors, making the tyres not fit for safe driving.

There are 3 aspects of importance here.

a. Size

Stick to the original size recommended by the manufacturer. Are you considering plus sizing your tyres? Read the pros and cons of the move here. But that aside, plus sizing your tyres without informing your insurer may invalidate your insurance.

In case of such modification, informing your insurer by phone (or writing) may do the trick. It may result in an increase in premium. But you get to do what you want and still have a valid insurance.

b. Speed Rating

If you fit tyres with lower speed rating than the original fitment, the new tyres will not support your regular speed. This can result in unfortunate occurrences. And the insurance company can refuse to entertain your claim, citing that the car was not road worthy and had been ‘modified’. In fact in some countries, it is illegal to drive on tyres with lower speed rating than the original fitments.

c. Load Rating

Fitting tyres with reduced load rating would result in overloaded/underinflated tyres. This would lead to quicker tyre wear besides increasing chances of tyre related accidents. And you car will not remain road worthy. Click here for an interesting case study on this aspect.

2. Illegal Tyres

Defective, damaged tyres with visible lumps, bulges are tears are deemed illegal. Also the tread depth of the tyres is crucial. The legal tread depth limit is 1.6mm around the central 3/4th portion of the tread around the entire tyre circumference.

If your tyres are deemed illegal due to any of these reasons, you

  • may have to pay a fine
  • are likely to incur penalty points

b· can be prosecuted

  • risk invalidating your car insurance.

How Tyres Increase Insurance Premium

An involvement in a car accident automatically pushes up your premium, as you are viewed as an ‘unsafe driver’.

Secondly, your insurance premium may rise depending on the penalty points you have incurred. In the UK, driving based offences attract penalty points that become attached to your driving record. The penalty points vary depending on the offence, ranging from 3 points for driving on underinflated tyres to 11 points for drunk driving. 3 points may not seem much, but if you don’t pay attention to your tyres, they can build up quickly. The more penalty points you get, higher your insurance premium will be. For more details, click here.

What can you do?

Regularly checking your tyre pressure is the simple solution to maximise car safety. This reduces the chance of accidents as underinflated tyres are more likely to cause tyre blowouts. Paying close attention to tyre age and replacing tyres that are no longer in useable condition is an important part of safe driving.

Finally, be aware of your tyre tread depth. Though the legal limit is 1.6mm, most manufacturers recommend replacing tyres at 3mm depth.

This study shows on wet surface at tread depth below 3mm, the stopping distance increases dramatically and at 1.6mm (legal minimum), the stopping distance has increased by 44.6%.

And here’s the interesting bit

It may appear that all of this information is about making sure that you don’t invalidate your car insurance or end up paying high premium. But the fact is: this is about you, your tyres and your LIFE.

The more attention you pay to all these aspects of your tyre, you can drive with greater peace of mind.

As I said earlier (and I am sure you agree) we all get insurance and pay the premium religiously, all the while hoping that we never have to make a claim.

10 Nov 2016

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