Will Tinted Windows Affect Your Auto Insurance Rate?

Provincial and federal laws determine how much window tint you can apply to your vehicle. Failing to comply with these rules can result in fines and higher car insurance premiums.

Imagine taking a road trip with no traffic on the highway and the sun shining down. To help make that drive more comfortable, you may have tinted your windows. However, that might not be allowed where you live and there’s a possibility it could lead to higher car insurance rates.

Why Tint Your Windows?

Tinting your windows after you bought your car involves having a layer of film installed on them. There are a number of benefits of getting your windows tinted. Here are just a few:

  • Reduce glare and heat — While a sunset is a beautiful sight, it can be dangerous if there’s a lot of glare and the visor doesn’t block it. Headlights from oncoming traffic can also cause glare. And the car can heat up quite quickly when the sun’s shining, which means you’ll have to waste energy by cranking up the air conditioning.
  • Block ultraviolet (UV) rays — A little sun is good for your health, but too much can be harmful because UV rays can cause skin cancer. The U.S. Skin Cancer Foundation notes that skin cancer tends to occur more often on the left side of the body because drivers are more likely to be exposed through a window on the left side.
  • Keep the car looking new — There’s a reason why art galleries don’t have a lot of windows near paintings: the sun. The light can discolour paintings as well as the interior. While your car may not be considered a masterpiece, it’s still worth a fair bit and you don’t want it to look faded.
  • Increase security and safety — Tinted windows will make it harder for thieves to break into your vehicle. It can also make it more difficult for thieves to see if there are any valuables in plain sight.

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The Laws Regarding Tinting

Two levels of government — federal and provincial/territorial — have rules about tinting a vehicle’s windows. The amount of darkness on new car windows are limited by the federal government, which mandates that 70% of light must be able to pass through. When the car is sold to you, your province or territory decides what changes are allowed.

Some jurisdictions don’t allow any tinting while others do. Alberta and Ontario don’t allow the windshield to be tinted, but Quebec does allow a strip no more than 15 cm wide applied to the top part of the windshield while British Columbia allows a strip of up to 7.5 cm (75 mm) below the top of the windshield.

However, Quebec as well as Alberta and Ontario don’t allow the front windows of the vehicle to be tinted. There are no rules regarding the backseat windows or the rear window.

If you’re pulled over, some police forces may check whether or not your vehicle is in compliance by using a photometer. This measures the percentage of light that goes through the window.

When you buy a new vehicle, you shouldn’t have to worry about the tinting since manufacturers have to comply with the federal government’s laws. However, if you buy a used vehicle — even it’s from a dealer — it’s up to you to ensure you’re in compliance with your provincial or territorial laws. It’s not the dealer’s responsibility.

Why There Are Laws Around Tinting

There are many reasons why provinces and territories have laws regarding window tinting. First, the police need to be able to see through the front side windows to make sure drivers aren’t texting and driving or they’re wearing their seatbelts.

Second, anyone reporting an erratic driver will need to be able testify and confirm the identity of the driver who committed a driving infraction in court. Third, pedestrians and cyclists need to be able to make eye contact with drivers before they proceed. And finally, tinted windows can make it difficult for emergency workers to break a window when rescuing passengers in the event of an accident.

Your Car Insurance and Tinting

It’s not likely your insurance premiums will rise if you tint your windows as long as you’re in compliance with your provincial or territorial laws. However, since the laws vary across Canada, you may be ticketed in another province or territory if the tinting is illegal there even though it’s legal where you reside. Which is why it’s worthwhile to double-check to ensure you’re in compliance before taking a road trip.

And if you get into a collision in a jurisdiction where the tinting isn’t legal, it could affect how your insurance company deals with the claim because you’re violating the law in the province or territory where the accident occurred.

Keep in mind that you must report any past traffic violations when you apply for auto insurance. When you’re fined for tinting your windows, it will be added to your record and potentially result in higher premiums.

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