What is a car modification? It reads somewhat like a philosophical question, but it’s something genuinely worth asking yourself when the time comes for you to insure your car. You could be surprised by how strict some insurers are with their definition of a modification.
You need to know what that definition is, as insurers often cite them in justification of higher premiums. You don’t want to risk leaving out mention of a particular modification on the insurance application and only finding out later that this omission voids your cover.
What do you think is a car modification?
When someone mentions the term “car modifications” to you, it might instantly bring to mind such powered-related changes as increasing the engine’s size and fitting alloy wheels. However, these fall into just one category of modifications; another broad category is “cosmetic”, The Guardian reveals.
Changes in this category include tinting windows, affixing stickers and slogans to windows and fitting spoilers. You might not have realised that such alterations can affect your insurance costs, as it’s not obvious how mods along these lines would put you at higher risk on the road.
However, an article from Auto Express provides some clarification on the matter. The site acknowledges that adorning your rear window with a football club sticker might not exactly look dangerous. However, “advertising club allegiances or adding stickers that make political statements could make your car a target for vandals who don’t share your tastes.”
Insurers can break modifications down into yet further categories
Here’s another unhelpful assumption that, nonetheless, you could easily and understandably make: that your car counts as unmodified if it hasn’t received any changes since it left the factory. In fairness, in many instances, you would actually be right – but not quite always…
That’s because only particular insurers might adhere to this particular definition. Other insurers could opt for a looser definition, where a car is deemed modified if it has been altered in any way from the manufacturer’s standard specification.
Therefore, any optional extras that the manufacturer or dealer installed on the car when it was new, and enhance its value, performance, appearance or appeal to thieves, might all need reporting to your insurer. It’s good practice to specify all of your car’s mods, even low-risk ones, to the insurer.
What if you remain unsure what your insurer considers a modification?
Simple: just ask your insurer. The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) notes that all insurance firms differ, adding: “Some treat locking wheel nuts or a roof rack as a modification that must be referred, others don’t. If in doubt, always err on the side of caution and tell your insurer.”
Of course, you might not like the revised premiums that they present you with once you have told them. That’s when you should consider switching to a specialist insurer of modified vehicles. There’s a wealth of online information about modified vehicle insurance, which is often much cheaper from a specialist insurer than from a standard one.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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