Car modifications. Will they modify your car insurance?

, Mar 02 2016 at 7:17 am

Updated Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Ever considered kitting out your car with some new alloy wheels? Thought about adding some extra headlights? Or been tempted to tune up the engine?

A modification can be a great way to personalise your car, and even improve its performance – there is a downside though, it can quickly bump up the cost of your car insurance.


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.

Even if you’re not looking to ‘pimp’ your ride, you may find just a slight modification is enough to push up the price of cover.

What is a car modification?

A car modification is a change made to a vehicle so that it differs from the manufacturer’s original factory specification. The changes can be made to improve performance, aesthetics, or be purely functional.

How do modifications change the price you pay for car insurance?

Insurance is based upon risk, and when quoting for cover insurers use a number of factors before arriving at a price.

Car modifications can seriously affect how insurers assess your car insurance policy in two key areas:

  • Risk of Accident – Modifications that change the look and performance of your vehicle are assessed by insurers to be a higher accident risk. These include engine changes, sports seats, body-kits, spoilers, etc.
  • 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, our number-crunchers produced the price guide below to show the effect each type of modification has on the cost of car insurance costs.

In general, 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.

On the other hand, performance and aesthetic changes such as tinted windows and alloy wheels are both more commonplace and considered low risk.

There are some functional car modifications, such as aftermarket fitted satnavs and phone kits, can also increase insurance costs because they are considered a high theft risk, whereas others can reduce premiums.

For example, parking sensors mean you are less likely to have a prang when reversing, while having a tow bar means that when hooked-up you are spending more time driving at a moderate pace.

Advice on insuring a modified car

So you’ve modified your car and you’re looking to insure it, here are some practical tips on what to consider:

  • Always tell insurers about modifications made to your car, as not declaring could invalidate your policy. When you run quotes with MoneySuperMarekt you’ll be asked about modifications on the application screen – make sure you don’t leave anything out.
  • If you’re 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 run a number of quotes as this could be an easy way to save money. Each insurer has a different view on risk, so comparison is a good way to find the cheapest.

Originally published Wednesday, March 6, 2013

36 thoughts on “Car modifications. Will they modify your car insurance?

  1. Dave Poole

    It’s worth mentioning that when changing the tyres the speed rating and profile can affect whether the insurance company pays out even if there is no impact on the insurance premium.
    This applies even if you go from factory fitted low profile tyres to something more “old man comfortable”.

  2. John Elliott

    modifications should be undertaken with lots of careful consideration. Insuring your car can be difficult, although people shouldn’t let it get in the way too much! Enjoy your car, as long as you can afford it!

  3. paulo

    I got a quote without parking sensors and using MoneySupermarket compared insurance quotes and got £196 as my lowest. I then added parking sensors and the lowest quote I got was £ 224 !!! So please do your own research.

  4. Elly D

    Hi Alastair, is there a way that I can sustain the same benefits or coverage of my old insurance even after some car modification due to dent repair?

    1. Alastair Pidgen Post author

      Hi Elly,

      Most repair work doesn’t change the specification of the vehicle so wouldn’t have to be declared as a modification. A repair that fixes a dent is returning the vehicle back to it’s original condition.

      If you are altering the car, or are unsure, you should contact your insurance provider to see if your policy is affected,

      I hope that helps.

      1. Elliot

        If you upgrade your brakes and add a rollcage surely the price should go down due to safety? Better brakes stop quicker and could stop an accident and rollcage if your car rolls over into a ditch it will protect you and your car with out!

  5. Mike

    I have been advised by my insurance company that any component fitted to a car, extra to standard specification, is a modification, If a person chooses to order leather seats rather than cloth at the time he orders the car brand new, then that additional extra would be classed as a modification. The cost of the car to buy it with leather seats rather than cloth would be higher and would be insured to the value disclosed, so why are the additional extras classed as a modification? If the seats were changed AFTER it had come off the production line I could understand why the change would be a modification. I am about to buy a second hand car which was ‘fully loaded’ by the first owner when he placed the order for it from the manufacturer. My insurer states that I have to disclose those additional fittings chosen by the car’s first owner as modifications.

    1. Greg

      To clarify: If they are optional factory extras, they are modifications. If they are part of a model spec then they are not modifications, they are faction spec so long as the model you are insured for is accurate.

  6. Andrew

    I really wish car insurance didn’t exist! I mean, only in the world of insurance companies would uprated bakes make the car less safe, and stickers somehow make you more likely to have a crash!

    It’s just a money making racket!

    1. Murshed

      well they increase your insurance price if you have uprated Brakes because if you have an accident then they would have to pay the extra money for those brakes and we all know that upgrading/uprating braking system is not a cheap process and this therefore increases the value of your car.

      The stickers are normally put on young drivers’ cars and this makes them feel more confident and pumped up when driving because they know they are driving a car that looks “cool” so this encourages them to drive more antisocially to also impress others which increases the risk of an accident.

      I agree with you that stickers is a stupid excuse to increase insurance prices but i think you’l agree and understand why uprated brakes can increase insurance prices right?

  7. Tony

    No mention in the article about a rear mounted bike rack. Have I been driving around ‘uninsured’ for the last 40 years?

  8. Colin blythe

    Hi I’ve just looked at the list u have on percentages and how much u add on if car has certain modifications I’ve went down the list a n added +49 percent minus 8 per cent for having tow bar so if on this site for non moderfied car insurance was quoted at £750 then 41 percent increase would by my wreckoning not come to £5.000

    1. Marcus Dyson

      Something very wrong with your maths Colin. 41% on top of £750 comes to £1057.50.

      Even adding 410% is only £3,850.

  9. js

    I’ve just bought some replacement alloys for my wife’s car (alloys were standard spec). These were bought as a repair, as the old rims have become leaky. However, the new rims have a different offset, making the track about 8mm wider per side. Is her insurance company going make a fuss if she has an accident and makes a claim?

    1. Les Roberts

      Hi JS,

      As the wheels aren’t original spec there is a chance the insurance company could have an issue in the event of a claim – it’s worth flagging with your insurer though, hopefully it won’t add to the cost of your cover and you’ll have the peace of mind they won’t be able to use it to wriggle out of a potential claim.

  10. Jon Wragg

    Hi all,

    So I bought, 5 weeks ago, a year old Volvo V60 which has rear parking sensors and loads of other factory fitted features (no idea if the were options?) but not front parking sensors, so I asked the dealership to install front parking sensors. I told my insurance company and they wanted to charge me £20 for the pleasure. OK so they reduced that to £10 because I told them it was ridiculous.
    The insurance is due for renewal on two vehicles in 6 weeks or so. Insurance company, can I mention their name… Navy, …. Nelson……. do you want my business or not? Obviously not.


  11. Chris Hughes

    Just had this back from online chat at Aviva: Anything that is fitted to the vehicle as it was built is classed as an upgrade, anything added once it has left the factory is classed as a modification.

    Therefore it was agreed I don’t have to add any modifications for my Mini Cooper S which has the chili pack, panoramic sunroof, parking sensors, alloy wheels and bonnet stripes.

    This seems logical as I’d presumably have to mention air con, electric windows, colour etc as a modification otherwise!

  12. James

    Hi how much of a difference would a set of 18inch alloys and lowered suspension be on insurance anybody no. Its a standard car apart from that

  13. Steve

    HI after looking at this page for some stats and advice but not going to now as whoever done the stats for this page need to try again.
    The rx7 is not the most modified car around and also wasn’t back when this was written.
    Corsa’s, golf’s, the usual boy racer car are and have always been modified more than the jap performance cars.
    The ages group are not very actuate and there is alot of woman modding cars as well.
    Please could you get this updated before giving out misleading advice from inaccurate stats.
    Thank you

  14. Scott

    Hi, from a commercial perspective, would sign writing on either a car or van that is used for business purposes count as a modification. I understand that some specific trades would indicate that there may be tools inside highlighting them as targets for vandalism and theft from. I am thinking more generic advertising i.e. estate agents etc?

  15. Sam

    I am considering purchasing a VW Golf 1.6 fsi which is being advertised as a R32 replica. The seller has altered the look and stance of the car with a VW kit and he has fitted 18 alloys. I would like to know what difference this would make to my insurance. I am 29.

  16. John

    Great tips. Considering how subjective some of these modifications can be in the eyes of insurers, running any changes by your insurer is a good idea on the off-chance that it won’t impact your policy. Thanks for sharing!

  17. helen hay

    ive damaged my bumper and wing, im getting a new one fitted tomorrow, mine came with spot lights at the bottom, the new bumper wont have them as its cheaper, will this affect my insurance, its only a nissan pixo

  18. Phil

    I bet 90% of the cars on the road are uninsured, because anything is a mod . Wouldn’t it be nice if they can out looked at the car then give a price . simples

  19. Karen bee

    I have just rang insurance to inform them I have had a hoist fitted in boot of vehicle only to be informed they won’t continue to insure me, it’s a modification & our under writers won’t insure. I’m flabbergasted and really can’t believe it. Can anyone advise me please. The uninsurable company is Hastings Direct.

  20. Craig Marchington

    Adding Daytime Running Lights is not covered under modifications by most insurance companies. Thus rendering your vehicle unquoteable according to their parameters, even though they are deemed a safety feature by most of europe. Comparison sites recognise them when you input it on their modification notification tab. Then as if by magic the companies listing quotes all of a sudden do not acknowledge this modification.


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