The impact of modifications on car insurance
By Mark Hooson
Many motorists take great pride in their cars, and want to do everything they can to improve both their performance and appearance.
However, if you fall into this category, think carefully before making any modifications to your vehicle. Even though they might boost your car's value, make it perform better and turn heads in the street, any changes you make could result in higher car insurance premiums.
The reason for the higher modified car insurance prices is risk. According to the statistics insurance companies use when setting their prices, motorists who driver higher performance vehicles are more likely to be involved in an accident which could lead to an car insurance claim.
It is also the case that modified vehicles tend to be more attractive to thieves too, and so your car may be at greater risk of being stolen.
Modifications don't have to be significant to have an impact on car insurance premiums - in fact, any change which means the car differs from how it was when it left the manufacturer can result in higher costs. That includes changes such as alloy wheels, changing your car's entertainment or navigation system, or fitting a body kit.
Remember that insurers allocate every car to one of 50 rating groups to help them work out what prices to charge (1 is the cheapest, 50 the most expensive). They proceed on the assumption that, if the original specification has been changed, the vehicle no longer conforms to their first analysis and thus modified car insurance tends to be more expensive.
Their logic is that modification work done on the structure or mechanics of a car outside the factory cannot be guaranteed and thus might compromise the integrity of the vehicle.
Talk to your modified car insurance provider
If your heart is set on modifying your car, then always consult your insurer beforehand and find out what impact any changes will have on your motor insurance premiums. You will then need to weigh up whether any modifications are worth the increase in insurance costs.
Always be honest about any modifications you have made or are planning to make. It might be tempting not to disclose them to your insurer, but if you aren't up-front, you risk invalidating your policy altogether.
It's worth bearing mind that if you are a young driver, you are likely to see the biggest hike in premiums if you modify your car. Young drivers are already considered high risk by insurers as they have more accidents than older, more experienced drivers. According to the Association of British Insurers, younger drivers are in fact twice as likely to make an insurance claim compared to those who have been on the road for several years.
For this age group, modified car insurance prices will be particularly steep and may even become unaffordable.
How security modifications differ
Not all modifications will result in higher car insurance premiums. If, for example, you are installing additional security measures to prevent your car from getting stolen, such as an alarm, then you may see your premiums fall as a result, as you will be considered lower risk by your insurer.
The same goes for tracking devices and immobilisers, but again, before making any changes, check how much of a reduction you may see in your modified car insurance premiums before proceeding.
Find cheap modified car insurance quotes online
If you are determined to make modifications to your car, then it is vital you shop around to find the best value modified car insurance possible.
You can compare modified car insurance quotes from hundreds of insurers on MoneySupermarket. Bear in mind too, that as well as ensuring you compare lots of different quotes, there are plenty of other things you can do to try and reduce the cost of cover.
For example, do you have access to a locked garage where you can keep your car? If you do, then insurers are likely to lower premiums, because your car is less likely to be stolen or vandalised if it is locked away, rather than if it is parked on a public road.
Another way to keep modified car insurance premiums down is to try to reduce your mileage. The further you drive each year, the greater the chance you are likely to be involved in an accident, so if you only use your car for shorter journeys, premiums are likely to be lower.
If you are a younger driver, then you might be able to bring down the cost of modified car insurance by taking additional driving qualifications, such as Pass Plus. It typically costs around £150 to take the Pass Plus course, but passing it can result in more than this amount being knocked off your annual insurance premiums.
Check with your modified car insurance company before taking qualifications first, so that you know exactly how much you might be able to save.
You could also consider raising the excess on your policy to keep premiums down. This is the portion of any insurance claim you must pay yourself. However, make sure the excess remains affordable.
If you are a younger driver, you may be able to reduce the cost of cover by adding an older, more experienced driver to your policy. However, make sure that you don't name them as the main driver on the policy as this could invalidate your insurance altogether. It could also lead to penalty points on your licence as well as a potential fine.
Finally, once you have found the right modified car insurance policy to suit your needs, if you can, try to pay for your cover upfront, rather than in monthly payments, as insurers usually impose high interest charges if you opt to pay monthly rather than annually.
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