Winter tyres have not sold in great quantities in the UK until now. Latest construction techniques and high-tech materials mean that winter tyres perform superbly in all conditions, even warm, dry weather but excel when temperatures fall. Regular tyres are fitted as standard on all passenger vehicles in the UK, but the facts are that these tyres harden when the temperature drops below seven degrees centigrade, meaning they have less traction on the road. This not only means the risk of spinning off the road is increased, but also the stopping distance is longer if you have to make an emergency stop. The latest winter tyres provide numerous safety and peace of mind benefits compared with the standard fit tyres.
It was claimed last year that some motorists who fitted winter tyres were being charged higher insurance premiums. AA Insurance Services says some people have been told to pay up to 20% more. Some insurers have been counting them as a modification to the manufacturer's specifications. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says that is a mistake and premiums should not be higher.
If you fit winter or all-season tyres in place of your standard 'summer' tyres then there should be no need to inform your insurer even though the speed index might be lower than the standard tyre specified by the car maker. If you follow the standard European practice of keeping two sets of wheels, one fitted with winter tyres and one with summer tyres, then there should be no need to tell your insurer so long as the winter tyres are fitted to steel or alloy wheels of the correct specification.
The AA recommends talking to your insurer if you are considering fitting winter tyres.