What modifications will affect my car insurance premium?

August 15th, 2022
What modifications will affect my car insurance premium?

In considering insurance modified car trends are a key factor. There are many kinds of modifications that can be made to a car. If you are considering making any kind of changes to your vehicle, it is first important to know how they will impact on your car insurance policy. Any change made to your vehicle should be reported to your insurance provider as failing to do so could result in your insurance becoming invalid.

What is a car modification?

Car modifications are changes to your car which alter it from the standard condition in which it left the factory. Modifications tend to fall under three main headings: those that affect the appearance of the car, those that affect its performance and those that are more practical.

Some modifications can simply be due to aesthetic choices such as adding alloy wheels. Others are made to enhance the car’s performance. Some may be more mundane yet practical additions such as adding parking sensors.

For many years, car modifications have been associated with younger male drivers who view their car as a status symbol and want to make it look as impressive as possible. But recent research has shown this may no longer be the case. According to the AA, a third of all modifications are carried out by female owners[1].

Why do car modifications affect my car insurance?

Car insurance premiums are based upon a number of different factors. These include the age and occupation of the driver, the area in which you live, the type of vehicle you own and, ultimately, how much risk you pose on the roads. Most modifications will affect your car insurance and should always be declared to your provider. A car that has been substantially modified to be more luxurious could be considered more sought-after and could be at a higher risk of theft or break in.

A car which has had modifications to make it more powerful could be considered at greater risk of an accident, while certain modifications can increase the overall value of the car. Some modifications which are carried out for more practical reasons could actually reduce premiums because they help to reduce your risk of an accident or boost security.

Anyone who has made changes to their car is likely to need to seek out modified car insurance. Insurance for modified cars will offer the same cover but will also cover the modifications made. You need to be sure an insurer will pay out for repairs to any modification if it is damaged or destroyed in an accident. Modifications also tend to affect the overall value of a car and without correct insurance, modified cars and other vehicles could be underinsured.

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What modifications are likely to increase my car insurance premiums?

All car modifications are likely to have some impact on your car insurance premium in one way or another. There are many, many different alterations that can be made to a car. Among the most common changes which are likely to increase car insurance premiums are: –

– Alloy wheels.

Bringing engineering and aesthetic benefits, alloy wheels are one of the most common car modifications. They are a fairly small and simple change to make to your car but can have a significant impact on its look. Theft of alloy wheels is a common insurance claim, which means adding them to your vehicle could make it more at risk from thieves and vandals. Insurers are likely to take this into account when calculating car insurance for modified vehicles.

– Changes to your exhaust

Making changes to your exhaust system can impact on the power and performance of your car. In the eyes of an insurer, the more powerful a car, the higher risk it is and the greater the chances of a claim being made.

– Fitting a turbo engine.

Supercharging an engine or remapping its electronic control unit (ECU) as an alternative will increase the power and performance of the car, taking it into a higher risk bracket when it comes to insurance for modified vehicles. Performance modifications are some of the costliest changes you can make to your car when it comes to insurance. It is estimated that fitting a turbo engine can increase the cost of premiums by a staggering 132% [2]. Any changes to boost your engine’s output are likely to increase your premiums the most.

– Adding spoilers or other changes to bodywork

A spoiler is usually added to improve traction and enable a car to go faster, so this modification will increase your risk. Spoilers which are not fitted correctly or have sharp edges could even completely invalidate your car insurance. Other modifications such as flared wings, wheel arches and side skirts can increase a car’s desirability and make it more attractive to thieves.

– Lowering suspension

This is usually done for cosmetic reasons and is a legal modification. It can, however, lead to problems including the uneven wearing of tyres and increase the chances of being pulled over by police.

– Adding stripes or badges

Even minor changes like adding badges or racing stripes to your car should be reported to your insurer and could impact on your premium, while specialised paintwork to personalise a car also needs to be flagged up for the insurer to consider accordingly.

– Making changes or alterations to air filters

Air filters are essential to a car working correctly and having the right ones fitted is important. Failure to do so can invalidate an insurance policy or increase premiums.

– Updating the brakes

Again, this is another change which can affect the performance of your car and, as such, makes you appear as more of an accident risk.

These are just some of the car modifications that will impact on insurance premiums. Other changes that can be made include transmission or gear changes, adding roll bars or roll cages, changes to the number plate, light changes, tinting rear and side windows, dashboard alterations or changes to the air conditioning. Even some smaller changes such as changing seats or the steering wheel or adding a sat nav will have an impact on insurance. Premiums will increase because the modifications are perceived either to make the car more likely to be stolen, increase its value or make it more of an accident risk.

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Are there any modifications that can reduce my car insurance premiums?

So far, we have considered only modifications that will raise your car insurance premium. While we are often told to avoid making modifications to our cars, there are some changes to your vehicle that can help to reduce your insurance premium. All of them are modifications that can improve the safety or security of your car. They include: –

– A black box

Growing in popularity over recent years, a black box is a small tracker device which insurance companies can fix discretely to your car to help measure the standard of your driving. It can accurately measure details such as speed, braking and acceleration and could show you to be a safe driver, thus resulting in reduced premiums.

– Dashcams

It is believed that adding a dashcam to your car can help you to get an average reduction of around 10% on your premiums. A dashcam is used to record what is happening on the road around you and can be used to show who was at fault in the event of an accident, alongside other details. Dashcams can also help to capture incidents such as vandalism or damage to cars outside the home and therefore can help to keep premiums low.

– A tow bar

Cars with tow bars tend to drive at lower speeds and therefore are not considered as much of a risk when it comes to insurance. However, it will not always guarantee a reduction in premiums. But, as with any car modification, it is important to declare it to your insurer to prevent your insurance from becoming invalid.

– Parking sensors

Adding parking sensors to your vehicle can help prevent minor accidents that occur when parking your vehicle. It is estimated that adding parking sensors can help to reduce insurance premiums by around 13% [3]. Parking sensors are a popular modification for drivers over the age of 75, research has shown [4].

– Immobilisers, alarms and steering locks

All of these three minor modifications help to reduce the chances of your car being stolen and could therefore help to reduce your premiums somewhat.

There are also some other non-modification methods to get cheaper premiums, including paying annually rather than monthly, using your no claims bonus, increasing your voluntary excess and avoiding allowing your insurance to renew automatically.

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Are there any car modifications that will invalidate my insurance completely?

  • Yes, there are and anything that renders your car illegal or not road worthy should be avoided completely. These include: –
  • Tinted windows which restrict more than 70% light. This is to ensure visibility is not restricted.
  • Neon lights under the car. Neon lights could cause other drivers to mistake your car for an emergency vehicle.
  • Noise modifiers such as a subwoofer, as these can be considered a public nuisance.
  • Spoilers which have sharp edges or are not securely fitted to a car.

In what instances should I tell my insurer about modifications to my car?

Insurers should be informed about every modification made to a car – big or small. Anything that changes the car from its original state should be reported. Failure to do so could invalidate your car insurance completely. Insurers will then decide how the changes will impact on your premiums. In many cases, it may cause an increase in premiums, while in others it will have minimal effect. In some cases, as listed above, it could even lower your premium. Any modifications will require you to get special car insurance modified vehicle variety.

How do I get car insurance for modified vehicles?

Generally, car insurers tend to advise you to stay away from modifications if you want to pay less for your car insurance. If you do modify your vehicle, you should report it to your insurer and it is likely that it will be added on to your existing policy. When seeking a new car insurance, you should be asked if your car has any modifications at all before being given a quote. Insurance on modified cars may be offered by specialist insurers but may also be available through more mainstream insurers.

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