What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about modifications to your car?
Giant alloy wheels, lowered suspension, and an outrageously large spoiler that wouldn’t look out of place on a runway?
Well chances are you are a ‘boy racer’ (or at least you may have been in a past life) and I dread to think what you must be paying for your car insurance premium!
Many of these modifications are added purely for aesthetic reasons, with some people thinking that their car will look better with a ludicrous plastic bodykit (please take note…it doesn’t!).
Some items are of course added for performance of the car which is what your insurers will take into consideration when calculating your policy.
Firstly if you have fitted modifications to your vehicle yourself or you have purchased a used car that already has them, you MUST tell your insurer. Even if the modifications are not classed as performance-enhancing, if they are not standard factory-fitted items, your insurer needs to know.
Not telling your insurance company about mods to your car, no matter how small, is effectively committing insurance fraud and at the least you are at risk from having your insurance policy invalidated if you were to have an accident.
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Which modifications will affect my insurance?
There is no definitive answer to this question – each insurer is different so before you consider making any changes to your vehicle you should check the terms and conditions on your policy.
See how some modifications could affect your policy below:
Increasing your premium
Depending on the make and model of your car, it may or may not have already come with alloy wheels as standard.
If your car has steel wheels as standard, you may prefer upgrading to alloy wheels but these will affect your car insurance.
Wider wheels may affect the handling of your car and certainly by putting more expensive wheels on your car will see its value rise. If your car is seen as a more attractive prospect to thieves then your insurers will deem it a higher risk and you will more than likely see an increase to your premium.
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Not all changes to your wheels will have a negative impact. With British winters suffering more extreme weather in recent years, winter tyres are becoming increasingly popular. Most insurers see these as having a positive impact as they will improve the handling of the car in difficult driving conditions.
If you are changing the tyres AND the wheels be careful, as a different set of wheels could affect your policy but if you are just changing your tyres, the majority of insurers will not expect you to inform them. Do check this list though – just to make sure what the policy of your insurance company is – even though the price of your premium will not change, there are some insurers that will want to know if you are using winter tyres, just for peace of mind.
Lowering your premium
There are of course some non-standard modifications that could see you paying a lower premium on your car insurance.
Many security devices on sale within the UK are rigorously tested for anti-theft effectiveness by Thatcham – the motor insurance repair & research centre – so if you have one of these fitted to your car your insurer will automatically be able to see that you are a lower risk.
ALL insurers consider the risk of theft when calculating your policy so providing enhanced security to your vehicle could be a great way of obtaining a significant discount on the standard premium.
If you are thinking about making modifications to your vehicle, then how this will affect your car insurance should be a major consideration, so you remain legally covered to drive your vehicle. If you already have an insurance policy, make sure you read through the terms and conditions to make sure your policy will still be valid after the changes.
If you are taking out a new policy, make sure you shop around for the best deal as different insurance companies may not treat modifications equally.
Of course there are plenty of modifications you could make to the inside of your car that won’t make the slightest bit of difference to your insurance policy. Fluffy dice anyone…
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Post by Heather Collin
The above post is intended to be informative but does not constitute advice – financial, legal or otherwise. Any opinions given are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of SO Media or the Mitchell Farrar Group.
Photo Credit: w4nd3rl0st (InspiredinDesMoines) via Compfight cc