Is my French automobile insurance invalidated if I do not have snow tires?
Reader’s Question: Will I still be covered by my auto insurance if I do not use snow tires in an area where they are required and I am involved in an accident?
Failure to equip your car with the necessary winter equipment in areas where it is mandatory could affect your insurance coverage.
Motorists in certain regions of France must now equip their cars with snow tires or chains between November 1 and March 31 of each year, under the new Mountain Law, which amended the highway code.
Vehicles such as cars, motorhomes and vans can either use four winter tires or, alternatively, carry fabric “socks” or metal snow chains in their trunk.
So people who only visit the mountains occasionally will not need to buy four new tires as long as they have chains.
The winter tire requirement does not apply to vehicles fitted with studded tires.
Winter tires can be identified by an “M + S”, “MS”, “M / S” or “M&S” marking on the sidewall. The â3PMSFâ (Three Peak Mountain Snow Flake) sign is also an industry standard.
Read more: Summary: the new French law on snow tires is starting, what you need to know
Those who do not properly equip their vehicle would face a fine of â¬ 135 and could be prevented from continuing their journey by the authorities.
The expert in road law Jean-Baptiste Le Dall told the DauphinÃ© that: âIf you drive on a road closed due to snow, the insurer can use this closure and refuse to apply its guarantee.
âThe same could also be said of an accident that occurs following a loss of control or aquaplaning while driving with bald tires.
âFailure to comply with a stipulation in the insurance contract such as lack of maintenance could lead a company to refuse to pay.
âWith the obligation of winter tires, an accident in the snow could give rise to this type of question. You are supposed to equip your vehicle with winter tires or equivalent all-season tires.
The insurance comparator Assurland specifies that: âNow that winter tires are compulsory in certain departments between November and March, you can be sanctioned by your auto insurer if you have not fitted them to your vehicle before an accident.
âFor example, if you skid on a slippery road without snow tires, the accident is normally considered by auto insurance to be a single vehicle accident. [meaning that no other vehicle is deemed to be involved.]
“However, if the incident occurs in a geographic area where winter tires are mandatory, and it is during the winter period, your auto insurer may refuse to compensate you.”
The GMF insurance company also specifies that: âIn the event of a car accident on snow, your insurer may ask you to prove that your tires were fitted with [winter] equipment. [You should] remember to check the conditions of your insurance contract before you start driving.
If you drive without winter tires and are involved in a collision with another vehicle, your auto liability insurance will cover the other motorist.
It’s worth noting that the French government has introduced a one-year grace period for drivers found without proper winter gear, so motorists won’t be fined until November 2022 at the earliest.
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