Car modifications. Will they modify your car insurance?

, Mar 06 2013 at 5:17 pm

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:

  1. How does car modification change car insurance costsRisk 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.
  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

13 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.

  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!

  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.


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