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Car Modifications – What Does & Doesn’t Affect Car Insurance?

Everyone who learns to drive dreams  of someday owning a car of their own. But some take this dream a little further. They dream of a car that’s truly their own, with a host of modifications to match their unique personality!

Not so fast. Some car modifications can seriously affect your car insurance. And car insurance can be pricey enough, particularly if you’re a young driver or a new driver. You don’t want to make things harder for yourself.

So before you plan your car modification project, first consider the effect your ideas can have on your car insurance premiums.

Do Car Modifications Affect Car Insurance?

Certain car modifications can affect car insurance. They could make your car less safe, less reliable, and more likely to get targeted by thieves. Car modifications are expensive, so if they’re damaged in an accident repairs will cost a lot. This will all be reflected in your insurance premiums.

Also, certain car modifications might say a lot about you, as a driver. What sort of driver would boost the size of their engine and add spoilers and sports seats to their car? The sort of driver who’s going to be careful and considerate, or the sort of driver who’ll consider driving with wild abandon at high speeds?

In short, car modifications suggest to insurers a higher risk of accident and a higher risk of theft. So if you modify your car, you can expect to pay more for insurance.

Why Do Some Car Modifications Affect Car Insurance?

Broadly speaking, insurers consider two things when calculating your insurance premiums: You, and your car.

How Drivers Affect Car Insurance

They consider you, as a driver, because some drivers are more likely to get into accidents than others.

This is why new drivers and young drivers tend to pay more for their car insurance. When you’re nervous and you lack experience, you’re more likely to get involved in an accident than a more established driver. You’re a higher risk driver, so you’ll pay higher premiums.

How Cars (and modifications) Affect Car Insurance

Insurers also consider your car, because some cars are higher risk than others. For example:

  • Not all cars have the same safety features
  • Some faster cars and older cars are more likely to cause accidents than other more reliable cars
  • High-performance cars can be more likely to be targeted by thieves and if they’re involved in accidents, repairs are going to cost quite a bit

For these reasons, flashy sports cars are going to cost more to insure than safe, dependable, everyday cars.

So What Sort of Car Modifications Affect Car Insurance?

Not all modifications are going to increase your insurance premiums.

Most modifications, though, are going to cost you. Money Supermarket analysed 2.3 million modified vehicles to work out which car modifications are most likely to affect insurance.

Which Car Modifications Can Increase Your Insurance?

Here’s the sort of modifications they found to have the most dramatic effect on premiums:

  • Turbocharged engines
  • Wheelchair clamps, straps and lifts
  • Bonnet bulges and flared wings
  • Changes to transmission or gears
  • Complete bodykit and panel modifications
  • Roll bars, roll cages etc.
  • Specialised paint work
  • Uprated brakes

Turbocharged engines will have the most dramatic effect on insurance premiums, as they make both accidents and theft more likely. Most of these modifications are aesthetic, and they’ll affect insurance purely because they’ll make theft most likely and cost a lot to repair in the event of an accident.

The modification with the second highest impact on insurance might come as a surprise – wheelchair clamps, straps and lifts. Other accessibility modifications, such as hand controls, can also have a huge impact on insurance. This isn’t necessarily because these modifications make accidents or theft more likely. It’s largely because these modifications are expensive, they’ll significantly alter the car’s specifications, and they’ll cost a huge amount to repair if they’re ever damaged.

Which Car Modifications Won’t Increase Insurance?

Not all modifications will set you back. Some will actually lower the price of your premiums, such as:

  • Tow bars
  • Tinted rear windows
  • Parking sensors

These features are designed to minimise the risk of accidents and theft so they lower the price of your premiums, as you’re less likely to claim.

Thinking About Getting Car Modifications?

If your priority is to save money on car insurance, car modifications are a bad idea. You can make considerable savings on your insurance by driving a safe and reliable car, and by leaving it unmodified so as not to affect its specifications. Read our full guide to getting cheaper car insurance here.

But if you are thinking about getting car modifications, it’s important that you let your insurers know what you’re planning. Not telling your insurer about modifications could invalidate your policy.