Money Help Desk: Driven to distraction

I WANT to fit winter tyres to my car, but as they have a different speed rating to normal tyres, I told my insurer. I was then informed that this constitutes a "modification" and would require a higher insurance premium. Is this right?

CS, Inverness

Ian Crowder, an insurance expert at AA Insurance, writes:

Tyres have symbols on them indicating their "speed index" and winter ones are lower than the equivalent standard tyres. To stay within the law, tyres need only be suitable for the national speed limit but in practice even winter tyres have a speed rating considerably higher than that. You should find that the tyres come with a warning sticker which can be displayed on your dashboard, reminding you not to exceed the tyres' maximum speed rating.

I checked with some of the companies on the AA Insurance panel and they not only confirmed that winter tyres are not regarded as a modification, but said they do not need to be told when you fit them.

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Perhaps the person you spoke to believed you were fitting different wheels, which would indeed be regarded as a modification. Speak to a manager at your insurer to confirm that this is the case.