Ever been tempted to kit out your car with some new alloy wheels? Perhaps you’ve thought about adding some extra headlights? A modification can be a fun way to personalise your car, and even improve its performance.
While many of us don’t go as far as ‘Pimp Your Ride’ in the changes we make to our vehicles, it’s still important to consider a potential downside – namely, that vehicle modifications can increase the cost of your car insurance.
How modifications can change the price you pay for car insurance
Providers use a number of factors to return a quote when pricing your car insurance. Car modifications can seriously affect how insurers assess your car insurance policy in two key areas:
Risk of Theft – Some modifications, such as phone kits or performance modifications, also increase the chance that your vehicle is broken into or stolen.
Analysing information on 2.3 million modified vehicles, MoneySupermarket has produced the price guide below. It shows the effect on car insurance costs that can follow when changing your vehicle specification with different types of modification.
Generally many of the performance and aesthetic changes made to vehicles will increase the cost of cover. Interestingly, insurers even rate specialist paint and decals as a higher risk, and ‘go faster stripes’ and rally numbers are cause for concern when considering the cost of cover.
Some performance and aesthetic changes are more benign, with tinted windows and alloy wheels being both commonplace and considered low risk.
Functional car modifications can also increase insurance costs: ‘aftermarket fitted’ satnavs and phone kits are considered a high theft risk. Some functional modifications can reduce premiums. For example, parking sensors mean you are less likely to have a prang reversing, while having a tow bar means that when hooked-up you are spending more time driving at a moderate pace.
Who modifies their cars?
The chart below shows that the young, particularly young men, are more likely to drive modified cars. Young drivers also pay the highest car insurance premiums, so should be particularly mindful when altering their vehicle.
At the extremes, the types of modification men and women make are quite different. We can see below that men are more than five times more likely to uprate their brakes than women whereas females are over 50% more likely to drive a car with air conditioning added.
Interestingly, females are also 40% more likely to fit parking sensors than men. Those tempted to make disparaging remarks about women and reversing should perhaps first consider the price impacts before passing judgement! Insurers believe this modification lowers the risk of accidents for both men and women, and pass on the benefit in terms of savings for those astute enough to put safety first.
…and what are the vehicles?
The Mazda RX7 is the most frequesntly souped-up ride, while the Renault Kangoo is the most frequently modified to provide a functional purpose – it’s often used as a mobility car for wheelchair users.
Advice on insuring a modified car
When it comes to insuring a modified vehicle here are some practical tips on what you should consider:
Always tell insurers about modifications made to your car, as not declaring could invalidate your policy. When you compare prices on MoneySupermarket you will be asked about modifications on the application screen. A comparison site is a good way to compare many insurance providers at once, which saves you time when completing these details.
If changing your car from the factory specification, always tell your insurer at the time you make a change. Different insurers have a different view on what constitutes a modification, so it is always best to check whether your insurance policy is impacted.
When renewing insurance for a modified car, always consider comparison as a way to save money. Each insurer has a different view on risk, so comparison is a good way to find the cheapest.