If you’re looking to ‘pimp your ride’ with modifications such as alloy wheels or a new entertainment system then beware – you could see your car insurance premiums rocket as a result. Even modest alterations to your car can see the cost of cover can go up. Insurers pounce on modifications to your motor because any changes you introduce that compromise the original specification can’t be guaranteed. This means your car is a riskier proposition than if it hadn’t been tampered with. It particularly applies to any modifications which change the performance of your car – so any engine alterations or spoilers – even another pair of lights is sufficient.
Modifications can also make your car more of a target for thieves. After all, if they can see a hi-tech entertainment system through the window, and the car next to yours has a humble radio, your motor is likely to be a more appealing prospect. Don’t be tempted not to let your insurer know about modifications in order to keep premiums down, or you could invalidate your cover altogether. Even if you think it’s only a minor change you are making, make sure you declare it, or you risk any claim you make being rejected.
Modifications under the spotlight
Most things which alter your car, even if they are minor changes, can bump up the cost of cover. It’s therefore always a good idea to check what impact any alterations you’re planning will have on your premiums so you can weigh up whether they are really worth it. According to MoneySuperMarket research, engine changes result in the most painful premium increases. Turbo or supercharging your engine could mean premiums almost double, with increases of 91% not uncommon. Changes to transmission or gears can lead to premiums which are 45% higher, while even tuning your engine can increase insurance costs by 20%. Alterations to the appearance of your car will also mean higher premiums. Bonnet bulges, flared wings and wheel arches can increase the cost of cover by as much as 41%, while adding a spoiler can add 7% to your premiums. Fitting tinted windows can also result in higher insurance costs, as can upgrading your internal entertainment and navigation systems, including things like installing satnav units, CD changers and Bluetooth kit.
Change for the better
The good news is that there are some modifications which could actually reduce your premiums. These are usually security measures, so if, for example, you fit an alarm, your premiums should in theory drop, as this will make it harder for anyone to steal your car. Remember too, that minor changes, such as giving your car a new paint job, shouldn’t impact on your premiums, as this won’t affect the performance of your car.
If in doubt… check
If you’re not certain whether alterations you’re planning on making to your car will affect your premiums, ring up your insurer and check. It might be annoying finding out you’ll have to fork out more for your insurance if you make the changes you want, but it will be infinitely less painful than not letting your insurer know and having your policy invalidated when you make a claim. Remember too that insurers base their premiums on numerous different factors, so while modifications might increase the cost of cover substantially with one insurer, this might not be the case with other providers. It can therefore be a good idea to hold off making any changes until your policy is up for renewal. You can then compare quotes from your existing provider and other insurers both with and without the modifications you are planning to make, so you can see the impact they will have on premiums – and which company will offer you the best deal.