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Winter tires will be mandatory, without mention, but watch out for your insurance

The use of winter tires or having removable equipment will be mandatory from 1 November in 34 departments, although without any penalty until at least 31 December. However, be careful in the event of an accident with insurance companies that may deny compensation.

From this Tuesday, November 1 until March 31, 2023, it will be mandatory to fit winter tires (or compatible 4 seasons) or to have removable equipment in the trunk for motorists who have to pass on the roads in 34 wards.

Obligatory, but not (yet) verbalizable

A consequence of the mountain law, which has been in force since last year from 1 November to 31 March. However, after a period of tolerance for the first winter season 2021-2022 with this obligation to be equipped, there will be no possibility of verbalization again this year.

Definitely no fine for missing winter equipment, at least until December 31, as confirmed by the Ministry of Transport at RMCin the wake of what Traffic Safety told us a little earlier.

If you therefore do not risk being fined 135 euros and potential immobilization of the vehicle, Traffic Safety reminds of the interest in gearing up to “reinforce user safety by reducing the specific risks associated with driving on snowy roads or ice cream.”. And also to avoid a usual scene: the traffic jams that occur when approaching stations with drivers initially ill-equipped to drive in the snow.

A risk in the event of an accident without equipment

In the event of an accident in an affected zone without being equipped, your insurance company may also refuse to pay you compensation. The obligation applies in force, even without valid wording.

“The insurance may not cover damage if the vehicle is not equipped with approved tires or chains in the event of an accident,” explained a spokesman for the new insurance company Leocare.

An insurance company that also recalls the various reasons that may give rise to the cancellation or reduction of compensation for an injury: following a voluntary false statement by the insured, following negligence or imprudence on the part of the insured, or if the insured was under the influence of alcohol or euphoria substances (in the latter case, only damage caused to third parties is covered).

But how do you check if the driver had removable equipment in the trunk? “When the insured reports an injury, the insured is required to send us the details of his injury, with supporting images. Expertise or tele-expertise (remote expertise) can help contextualize the injury and determine whether the insured had the necessary equipment or no.” , says Christophe Dandois, co-founder of Leocare.

Macif, for its part, is quite reassuring, highlighting its efforts to warn drivers of risks and emphasizing coverage maintained in advance:

“With regard to this topic, our role is thus to support the member in complying with this legislation in our prevention and information actions and to inform him of the risks incurred. In the event of an accident, the member is insured within the contract limit. , regardless of whether he is equipped with winter tires or not”, states the insurance company.

Temperatures too high, what to do?

Another scenario that comes up a lot in the comments this year: The very mild temperatures in autumn, which do not justify putting on winter tires from November 1 at all.

“The measurement is good. The application to a fixed date is not. At the moment it is 15 to 20° in most regions of France. Obviously now is not the time to put my winter tires on. We will have to see when it gets permanently lower than 10° during the day”, testifies a resident of a mountain area.

This sign marks the beginning and end of the zone where winter tires and removable units are mandatory, from November 1st to March 1st.
This sign marks the beginning and end of the zone where winter tires and removable units are mandatory, from November 1st to March 1st. © Ministry of the Interior

It is also not advisable to use a winter tire at a temperature above 7°C, calling into question the obligation to fit them to improve safety from 1 November:

“Above 7°C, winter tires perform worse than summer tires, especially in terms of braking distances, (…) the rubber on the tread of a winter tire becomes soft and loses efficiency”, recalls Michelin on a dedicated page, which also refers to the overuse of fuel.

Logically, it would therefore be necessary to determine the start date of this winter period each year in relation to the meteorological context. This is also the case in Germany, which has no fixed period for the obligation to fit winter tyres. In France, road safety, which depends on the Ministry of the Interior, was unable to tell us if any development of the mountain law was planned on this point.

In the event of an accident, without being equipped and in an affected zone, from November 1, but without winter conditions, the insurance company must in any case exercise discretion.

“The act of damages is detailed and takes into account the overall context of the accident. If the adjuster during the damage indicates that there is no connection between the cause of the accident and the lack of use of winter tires, due to mild weather, this point is not raised”, emphasizes Christophe Dandois from Leocare.

If in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact your insurance company or leave with at least removable equipment on board.

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