Find out what counts as a modification and how to insure your modified car
Car modifications are not exclusive to boy racers or petrolheads — as well as turbocharged engines and spoilers, insurers take more modest vehicle modifications into consideration when arranging your cover — anything from alloy wheels to safety features such as parking sensors.
Different types of modification will affect the cost of your cover differently — some will not alter your premium at all, and some could even reduce it. But your insurer must be informed so they can provide appropriate cover, and you could be driving illegally if your insurance policy is invalidated because you didn’t declare everything on your policy.
What counts as a modification?
Car modifications can be performance-based or purely cosmetic, but insurers will want to know about any changes made to the vehicle.
When you get a quote from a price comparison site such as uSwitch, you’ll be able to select from a list of modifications. You might be surprised to see what these include — alongside performance modifications such as engine alterations, you’ll also be asked to declare additions such as sunroofs, parking sensors, paint work, and tow bars.
Most insurers will only ask you to declare these alterations or accessories if they were added after the car’s manufacture, but others will consider these to be modifications if they were not part of the basic specification of the car, i.e. if the manufacturer provided these as optional extras when the car was purchased. Not all insurers will take this into account, so when you’re comparing online it’s best to select these as modifications. If you’ve got an existing policy and you’re concerned that you haven’t declared everything, just give your insurer a call and ask whether they take these types of modification into account.
Informing your insurer about modifications
If you’re taking out a new insurance policy, it’s important to declare any modifications at the comparison stage to ensure the quotes returned are accurate. By not declaring modifications, you could be left without valid cover, which is a legal requirement.
If you make any alterations to your car during the course of your insurance policy, you should declare this to your insurer immediately. Don’t wait for your renewal notice as you may not be covered in the meantime.
How do modifications affect the cost of car insurance?
As you might expect, some types of modification will increase the cost of your car insurance. Some performance modifications can make your car more powerful, meaning it’s more likely to sustain or cause damage in the case of an accident. Other modifications will make your car more attractive to thieves or could increase the value of your car, and your insurer may increase your premium to reflect this added risk.
However, some types of modification could positively affect the cost of your insurance. Safety features such as trackers and parking sensors could save you money — but be aware that the insurer will also take the equipment’s replacement cost into account, meaning your premium could actually go up or down.
How to get cheap modified car insurance
If you’re thinking of modifying your car, think carefully about the type of modification you want and how it could impact the cost of your car insurance. Some will not affect the cost of cover (or could even reduce it), while others could result in a significant increase.
Many insurers are wary of modified vehicles, and some won’t even provide a quote if the car has been altered in any way. But there are many specialist insurers who are happy to cover cars with modifications, and can offer tailored benefits and affordable quotes, so it’s best to shop around.
Get started by comparing specialist insurance quotes: