Wearing winter tires or having removable equipment will be compulsory from November 1 in 34 departments, but without possible sanction until at least December 31. Be careful, however, in the event of an accident, with insurance companies that could refuse compensation.
From this Tuesday, November 1 and until March 31, 2023, it will be compulsory to fit winter tires (or compatible 4 seasons) or to have removable equipment in the trunk for motorists who will pass on the roads of 34 departments.
Mandatory but not (yet) verbalizable
A consequence of the Mountain Law, which has applied since last year from November 1 to March 31. After a period of tolerance for the first winter season 2021-2022 with this obligation to be equipped, there will however be no verbalization possible again this year.
Clearly, no fine for lack of winter equipment, at least until December 31, as confirmed by the Ministry of Transport at RMCin the wake of what Road Safety told us a little earlier.
If you therefore do not risk being fined with a fine of 135 euros and potential immobilization of the vehicle, Road Safety recalls the interest of equipping itself to “reinforce the safety of users by reducing the specific risks associated with driving on the roads snowy or icy”. And also to avoid a usual scene: the traffic jams that form when approaching stations with, originally, motorists ill-equipped to drive in the snow.
A risk in the event of an accident without equipment
In the event of an accident in a zone concerned without being equipped, your insurer could also refuse to compensate you. The obligation applies in effect, even without verbalization in force.
“Insurance may not cover damage if the vehicle is not equipped with approved tires or chain in the event of an accident”, explained a spokesperson for the neo-insurer Leocare.
An insurance company which also recalls the various reasons that may give rise to cancellation or reduction of compensation for a claim: following a voluntary false declaration by the insured, following negligence or imprudence on the part of the insured, or if the insured was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics (in the latter case, only damage suffered by third parties will be covered).
But how to check whether or not the motorist had removable equipment in his trunk? “When declaring a claim, the insured is required to send us the details of his claim, with supporting photos. Expertise or tele-expertise (remote expertise) can help to contextualize the claim and determine whether or not the insured had the required equipment”, tells us Christophe Dandois, co-founder of Leocare.
Macif, for its part, is quite reassuring, highlighting its efforts to warn motorists of the risks and underlining a cover maintained a priori:
“On this subject, our role is thus to support the member to comply 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 in the limit of his contract, whether or not he is fitted with winter tyres”, specifies the insurer.
Temperatures too high, what to do?
Another scenario that comes up a lot in the comments this year: the very mild temperatures this fall, which do not at all justify putting on winter tires from November 1st.
“The measurement is good. The application on a fixed date is not. Currently, it is 15 to 20° in most regions of France. It is clearly not now that I will be fitting my winter tires. We will see when it will be permanently less than 10° during the day”, testifies a resident of a mountain area.
It is also not advisable to use a winter tire at a temperature above 7°C, which calls into question the obligation to fit them to improve safety from 1 November:
“Above 7°C, winter tires perform less well than summer tyres, in particular for braking distances, (…) the rubber on the tread of a winter tire softens and loses efficiency”, recalls Michelin on a dedicated page, also referring to overconsumption of fuel.
Logically, it would therefore be necessary to establish the start date of this winter period each year according 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 whether an evolution of the Mountain Law was planned on this point.
In the event of an accident, without being equipped and in a zone concerned, from November 1st but without winter conditions, the insurer should in any case show discernment.
“The management of claims is detailed and takes into account the overall context of the accident. If, during the claim, the adjuster indicates that there is no correlation between the cause of the accident and the non- use of winter tyres, due to the mild weather, this point will not be raised”, emphasizes Christophe Dandois of Leocare.
If in doubt, do not hesitate to contact your insurer or leave with, at least, removable equipment on board.