Car modifications can send your premiums soaring by up to 132%. Not only that, but in some cases, they can void your insurance entirely.
But every car modification is different. And no two insurance companies will have the same view. Which is why it’s good to know the ins and outs of car modifications — in particular, how they can affect your insurance premium — before you add any to your car.
Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you. As well as looking at what insurers class as a “modification”, we’ll highlight the mods that’ll skyrocket your premiums.
So let’s get going.
Why do insurers worry about modifications?
The actual modification — whether it’s a racing stripe or a decat exhaust — isn’t usually the problem. Instead, it’s more about how it will affect your driving style.
To calculate their premiums, insurers look at the risk, rather than how big or small a modification is. And this explains why things like turbos, superchargers and nitrous oxide can increase your premium by up to 132%. The faster the car, the more at risk you are of having an accident.
But performance isn’t the only thing they look at. Some modifications can make your car a target to thieves. AOL says that having an expensive sat nav on show can increase your car’s premium by up to 10%, as it’s more likely to attract thieves.
What type of modifications will affect your insurance the most?
Truth is, every insurance company looks at modifications differently. Having said that, there are certain mods that all insurers see as high risk. And yup, you guessed it, these are the ones that’ll skyrocket your premium. Here are the mods that top the pile:
1. Turbo, supercharging or nitrous oxide (132%)
It’s no surprise that performance-enhancing modifications drive premium prices the highest. Insurers believe that the faster the car, the more likely it is to be in an accident.
But as well as looking at the car, they'll look at the driver too. Those that go to the effort of making their car faster are often those that speed and overtake. And they have a point.
Because of this, don't be shook to see your premium double after fitting a turbo, supercharger or nitrous oxide.
2. Wheelchair clamps, lifts, straps and winch (69%)
On the flip side, there’s making your vehicle wheelchair accessible. While it may seem like an unfair reason to raise your premium, there is some sense to it. Generally, making your vehicle wheelchair accessible increases its value. So it's right for your insurance to follow suit.
As well as this, think about the repair costs. If your vehicle is in an accident, it’s going to cost more to repair because of the wheelchair lift, ramp or buggy.
3. Bonnet scoops, wheel arches and flared wings (66%)
Though they may seem cosmetic, bonnet scoops, wheel arches, and flared wings can improve your car’s aerodynamics. Because of this, insurance companies treat them as a performance-enhancing modification. On top of this, they can’t guarantee you’ve had them fitted by a reputable garage. So thus, see them as an increased risk.
Like mod #2, they can also increase the value of your car, as well as the cost to repair it. Also, it's more appealing to thieves.
4. Transmission and gear modifications (63%)
Insurance companies will see a modified gearbox as a potential big risk. Aside from the fact that it improves performance, the cost of repairing your car if you have an accident will increase too.
5. Hand controls (57%)
Not all modifications increase performance or are style-based. If you have a leg or foot disability, you might add additional hand controls to your car. Here, the increase in cost isn’t down to the risk, but the cost of repair.
A standard payout probably wouldn’t cover the cost to repair complex parts, and thus, your insurance premium will rise.
6. Other modifications
That’s just the top five. Here are the other modifications that will also increase your insurance premium:
- Body kit and panels (57%)
- Roll bars, roll cages and seat removal (41%)
- Upgraded brakes (36%)
- Specialist paint work or wrap (36%)
- Non-factory engine change or tune (29%)
And when should I tell my insurance company about my modifications?
Here’s the thing. It’s best to tell your insurance company that you’re thinking about modifying your car before you do it. This way, you can run through your modifications with them, and hear the effects it’ll have on your policy. If you don’t like what you hear, and your premium increases more than you thought, there’s no harm done.
But, if you tell them once you’ve modified your car, you have no option but to pay the premiums. To you, something like a roof spoiler might seem like an innocent modification, but it could cost you more (per month) than what the spoiler is worth. If you knew this beforehand, you’d have probably thought twice about fitting it.
Which leads nicely onto:
What happens if I don’t tell them about my car mods?
This is where things get serious. Around 45% of drivers don’t tell their insurance company about their modifications. And it's a huge mistake, because failing to tell your insurer about your modifications is fraud. And as a result, your insurance will be void.
You also risk having to find another insurance company too. That’s right. Some insurance companies avoid modified vehicles altogether, regardless of when you tell them. So there's another reason why you should always call your insurer first.
And for anyone that thinks they can cheat the system by not having insurance, there are serious charges for this. At the very least, you’ll have six points on your license and a £300 fine. Or you could have your vehicle seized and find yourself disqualified from driving. So to say it’s not worth it would be the understatement of the year.
Are there any modifications that won’t affect my insurance?
Technically, yes, but you won’t find them looking online. Sadly, there isn’t a set list of modifications that will and won’t affect your premium. It’s not that simple, and it’s not how insurers calculate their premiums.
Every insurer is different, just like how every car and driver are different. What’s considered a non-risky modification to one may be a higher risk to another. That’s why it’s impossible to know exactly how a mod will affect your insurance without speaking to your provider.
Like we’ve said, if you’re unsure, always check with your insurance provider first. That way, if your premium rises too high, you won’t be out of pocket. Or worse, without insurance.