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Private liability

Driving in the winter with summer tyres – will insurance pay?

If you drive with summer tyres in the winter, you risk causing a fender bender. That can get very expensive. For example, imagine a driver loses control of his car on a snow covered street and crashes into a shop front. Will insurance pay?

28 January 2015, text: Hansjörg Ryser, photo: istock

Driving with summer tyres in the winter can have unintended consequences – that goes for insurance, too.
Driving with summer tyres in the winter can have unintended consequences – that goes for insurance, too.

It’s another rough winter. Old Jack Frost keeps brushing the countryside, turning everything a beautiful white, including the roads. If you haven’t winterised your car and are still driving with summer tyres, you could be in for trouble. Your car could easily start skidding on the snow-covered street and crash into a shop front. And then you will have caused damage both to your car and to the shop. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that nobody gets injured. The damage to your car will be covered by your accidental damage insurance, and the damage to the shop will be most likely covered by your motor vehicle liability insurance.

Insurance can reduce benefits

Now, however, the question is whether your insurance will cover all the damage or you’ll have to pay some of it yourself. Depending on how the accident happened and the condition of the vehicle, which includes its tyres, your behaviour might be judged grossly negligent. One indicator for gross negligence is driving on a suspended driving licence. In this case, you will have to pay for part of the damage unless you have taken out supplementary insurance for gross negligence in your motor vehicle insurance.

If you don’t have supplementary insurance, the insurer may reduce the benefits paid under your accidental damage insurance or deny them completely once it has looked into the facts of the case.
As far as your liability is concerned, it will reimburse the shop owner for his damages but will try to collect part of this money from you.

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