Auto insurance companies in Ontario are now required by law to give discounts to drivers who use winter tires.

The mandatory reduction came into effect Jan. 1, but some drivers may be surprised to find out they won’t see the savings on insurance for nearly an entire year.

Many thought they would automatically get the discount at the beginning of 2016, but the reduction doesn’t take effect until the renewal of an insurance policy, which for some drivers, could be as late as December 2016.

“If your policy was purchased in October and doesn’t renew until next October…that discount will be added onto the police at renewal next year,” said Pete Karageorgos of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Some insurance companies were already offering discounts to those with snow tiers as incentives to keep drivers safe in the winter.

Now, every insurer in the province will have to give drivers a rate reduction if they use winter tires, but the discounts will vary. On average, the reduction is between two and five per cent.

“I think it’s fantastic. It’s good to know,” said Helen Champagne, who was shopping for winter tires. “Insurance is already expensive, so if there’s a five-per-cent discount, then that’s great.”

Most insurers do not require receipts to prove you purchased winter tires, but it is advised that drivers keep the documentation because companies will check the tires in the event of an accident.

“If you have a crash or a claim and it’s discovered that you didn’t have snow tires and you misled your insurance company, odds are that you’ll lose the discount and you may even suffer additional repercussions,” Karageorgos said.

The province hopes the new rules will encourage more of Ontario’s 9.3 million drivers to use winter tires, which could lead to safer roads and fewer collisions.

With a Consumer Alert from Pat Foran