Get your vehicle winter ready
With wintery weather already arriving in parts of Alberta, it is essential to ensure your vehicle is ready to take on the ice and cold, says Settlement Lenders President Larry Herscu.
“While many Albertans are used to winter road conditions in early fall, it can still come as a surprise to others — particularly those who are new to the province,” he says. “Although Alberta does not require vehicles to be equipped with winter tires during the winter, they are strongly recommended.”
A recent study conducted by Manitoba’s public auto insurer shows vehicle damage claims frequency appeared to be six per cent lower for vehicles with winter tires than those without winter tires.
“Installing winter tires is typically the first step drivers take but it’s also a great time to schedule a maintenance checkup,” Herscu adds.
In addition to installing winter tires, the Alberta Motor Association recommends the following:
- Switch to synthetic oil, which flows better in wintry weather, to reduce engine wear and extend the engine’s life.
- Check your fluids and visually inspect belts and hoses for cracks, bulges and leaks.
- Check your battery, as its output drops by about half when the outside temperature dips below -18 Celsius.
- Frequently check your tire pressure and tread.
- Get winter wiper blades.
“It is also a good idea to pack a winter survival kit in your trunk. This can include items like blankets, extra vehicle fluids, jumper cables, a shovel, first-aid supplies, non-perishable food, etc.,” Herscu says. “If your car is stuck in snow, you want to be able to try and free your vehicle. If you are stranded on the side of the road, you want to be comfortable until help arrives,” he says. “Really, a car emergency kit is valuable all year round and pre-fab kits are available online.”
It can be tempting to cut corners when clearing the ice and snow from your car — especially when you are running late. However, removing ice from your vehicle before driving is necessary, as flying ice and snow can be a road hazard.
Lastly, if the thought of facing another Canadian winter has you heading for warmer temperatures, check in with your insurance company if you are planning on driving down south.
“Snowbirds may think about medical emergencies and getting adequate health insurance, but they don’t necessarily turn their minds to motor vehicle accidents and coverage,” Herscu says.
He notes that serious injury thresholds — your ability to sue for a certain amount — tend to be lower in the U.S. and differ between states. For example, in some jurisdictions, the threshold is subdivided if you are involved in an accident with multiple people in one car.
“We frequently hear from clients who are struggling in the aftermath of their auto accidents,” Herscu says. “They turn to us for settlement loans to help pay their bills and pay for medical treatment while their lawyers fight for fair settlements or court awards.”
He adds that the financial implications of a motor vehicle accident can be devastating. “You rely on your insurance company to take care of you, but it’s vital to know your policy and what it covers while you’re away from home,” Herscu says.
“It is key to know before you go. Ask what you are covered for and what is optional. You may want to increase your auto insurance limits and purchase optional accident benefits in order to protect yourself.”
Larry Herscu is President of Settlement Lenders, a specialty lender focused on providing credit solutions to the legal sector, including its clients and service providers.