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Bodywork tweaks - even if they do not improve performance - will cost more to fix in the event of a claim.
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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 in different ways — 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.
If you had to claim you would want your car put back the way it was before the accident and that would include any modifications, so you must tell your insurer about them in advance so they can accurately price their policy.
Modified car insurance will provide the same cover as a standard car insurance policy but will also ensure any changes you’ve made to your car are protected and replaced in the event of a claim.
There are many specialist insurers who are happy to cover cars with modifications. Some insurers will even provide agreed value cover and let you choose the garage that carries out any repairs – though you will pay more for these things.
Car modifications can be performance-based or purely cosmetic, but insurers will want to know about any changes made to the vehicle.
The most common types of modifications include:
Changes to the bodywork
Modifications can also include the addition of a sunroof and fitting a tow bar.
When you get a quote from a price comparison site such as Uswitch, you’ll be able to select from a list of modifications such as these.
Most insurers will only ask you to declare these alterations or accessories if they were added after the car’s manufacture. Others will consider these to be modifications if they were not part of the basic specification of the car – 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.
You should declare any modifications to your insurer. 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.
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.
Remember, you would want your car returned to its original condition after an accident so it is only fair to tell your insurer the details in advance.
If you don’t declare modifications when comparing car insurance quotes, whether this was deliberate or accidental, you could be left without valid cover. This means if you later make a claim it may be turned down or your payout reduced.
Worse still, your insurer will share your ‘dishonesty’ with other insurers and you could find it harder to get insurance in the future.
Some modifications increase the cost of your car insurance. Performance modifications that make your car more powerful, mean you are more likely to have an accident and your high-powered car is more likely to sustain or cause damage in the case of an accident.
The cost of repairing a modified car to its former state is also more expensive than repairing a standard car.
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.
Although many modifications will increase the amount you pay for your car insurance, some types of modification could actually cut the cost of your insurance.
Safety features such as immobilisers, 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, not down.
If you add winter tyres to your car, this should not affect your car insurance premium, providing the tyres are approved by the car manufacturer. A number of insurers signed an agreement back in 2011 to state they would not increase premiums for motorists using winter tyres.
As with any type of car insurance, it pays to shop around to make sure you’re getting the right modified car insurance deal for you.