Car makers design their vehicles in such a way in order to appeal to as many people as feasible. Many car aficionados, however, are eager to drive a vehicle that has been customized to meet their specific needs, whether those needs are cosmetic or performance-related.
According to insurance, a “modified” vehicle is one that has been altered from factory specifications (or since it has left the factory). Everything you do to your car—from installing a new engine to just putting a bumper sticker—involves some kind of trade-off.
The insurance premiums of some common automotive modifications can be reduced, but the prices of others can be increased. Some of the most popular automotive modifications are examined in this article, along with their legality and the effect they have on your auto insurance.
Do You Have to Tell Your Insurance Company if You Modify Your Car?
Regardless of who made the modifications, UK law requires you to notify your insurer if your vehicle has been altered. Doing so could result in a voiding of your insurance policy
Additionally, it is crucial to notify your insurance carrier if modifications are made to your vehicle in order to guarantee that you are properly protected. If possible, get in touch with your insurer before making any changes so that you can double-check any alterations to your policy.
You, as the policyholder, are responsible for notifying the insurance company of any changes to your policy. If you’re considering purchasing a used automobile and have any concerns about the quality of the work that has been done, have the vehicle inspected by a technician first. Your claim may be denied and your insurance worthless if you don’t declare the alterations, regardless of whether the omission was intended on your part.
In the future, it will be more difficult and more expensive to obtain insurance if you have had your policy rejected or cancelled. In other words, double-check and disclose if you’re unsure of something.
It’s possible that you’ll need a specialized coverage if you plan to modify your car, as not all insurers cover modified automobiles. Even if your current insurance carrier would cover you, seeking estimates is always worthwhile because you never know if a changed policy will save you money.
Here is how insurance company know if a vehicle has been remapped.
Modifications That May Increase Your Insurance Premium
To improve the performance of your car, you can make modifications to its engine and other mechanical parts such as the exhaust system and transmission. Insurance rates rise by 70 to 80 percent when a car’s engine capacity is raised.
Engine Control Unit (ECU) Remapping
Your insurance premiums may go up as a result of making engine modifications such as installing an Engine Control Unit (ECU). In order to maximize economy and power, all automobiles are set up at the factory to manage the fuel-air mixture. The ECU’s specifications are often programmed well below the car’s capabilities by several manufacturers. Engine performance and fuel economy can both benefit from reprogramming, also known as’remapping,’ which involves modifying the engine’s software.
The brake force of a vehicle will be somewhat increased if the ECU chip is added or replaced to make it more efficient. Your insurance rate may go up, but only by roughly 5%.
However, remapping the ECU in order to gain significantly more power from your engine may be more expensive. In general, the rise in your premium will be proportional to the increase in horsepower, thus this is a good rule of thumb to follow.
Cold Air Intake – Filter Modification
Installing a cold air intake on your engine not only improves airflow, but it also provides colder, more condensed air to the engine. Increase your engine’s power by increasing the density of the air you’re breathing by cooling it down. When it comes to your insurance rates, this alteration may only have a negligible effect.
In order to reduce the strain on the engine, many drivers improve the exhaust system, which improves the passage of waste through the engine. Typically, this implies increasing the size and volume of the exhaust, which may raise your insurance cost.
Because of how loud they can be, many “large bore” exhausts are really illegal because the silencers have been removed. It is prohibited in the United Kingdom to alter your vehicle’s exhaust system in a way that makes it more obnoxious, and the police can take action if your silencer is missing or broken. If your exhaust system isn’t up to code, you could be ticketed right away and your car could be impounded until it’s fixed. Your insurance will be void if you make unauthorized modifications to the vehicle.
Upgraded Brake Discs
Some of the most valuable parts include carbon-ceramic discs, as well as those with holes that allow air to travel through and cool the discs faster. As a result, installing them may actually raise your insurance premium because of the higher value of your vehicle.
The safety of a car might be affected when body kits are added to or replaced with existing bodywork. As an illustration, consider modifying the vehicle’s appearance by installing a larger bumper. Even the slightest of hits can cause a body kit to disintegrate, which is why bumpers are designed to protect drivers.
This can be dangerous on uneven roads because to modifications like as front and side skirts. Fiberglass and polyurethane are the most common materials used in body kits, making them more prone to splintering in an accident.
Bodywork changes might raise your premiums by 10-15% on average if you have a standard coverage. To be on the safe side, installing a body modification won’t raise your insurance rates unless the value of your automobile rises substantially.
The following visual improvements can have a comparable effect on your auto insurance:
- Wheel arches
- Valances and
- Flared wings.
Toyota MR2 owners love to have their cars customized to look like Ferraris with aftermarket body kits. In these situations, your insurance coverage may be re-evaluated. Before beginning any work, be sure to contact your insurance provider first.
Gear Short Shift Kits
Short shift kits, which reduce the distance the shift lever has to travel between gears, are a common aftermarket addition. Faster shifts imply a more exciting driving experience – but if you’re not used to it, your car may be more difficult to control.
Some insurance companies may have a problem with this alteration because of its association with racing and young drivers. However, if your car is already significantly modified, it will only raise your insurance price by 5 to 10 percent.
Custom Interiors and Exteriors
Changing or reupholstering the seats
You may need to replace or reupholster your seats depending on the age and use of your automobile, or you may just wish to install heated seats or vintage-style tuck and rolls. No matter why you’re making the change, be sure to let your insurance company know about it.
Installing or reupholstering new chairs might raise your regular policy’s cost by 5-10%. For those with modified auto insurance policies, new seats are unlikely to raise premiums.
Custom Paint Jobs
Modifying your car’s appearance is popular, however not all of the popular alterations are permitted. Exterior modifications of your car include, but are not limited to:
- Adding a tow-bar.
- Custom paint jobs
- Custom LED headlights
- Stickers and decals
- Tinted Windows
- Under-car neon lights
Many people are startled to learn that insurance companies consider unique paint jobs, decals, and stickers to be modifications. To avoid being caught out, some people fail to declare their bumper sticker collection or racing stripes while attempting to submit a claim for insurance benefits.
There are certain insurance companies that don’t cover custom paint jobs or stickers because of previous claims they’ve made. Cars with these kinds of modifications may not be covered by the insurance provider if they have had to pay out substantial sums of money to the owners of those vehicles. If you’re covered by an insurance company, you’ll only see a 5% rise in your premium.
A car’s handling can be improved by switching to alloy wheels instead of steel ones of a similar size. This is due to the fact that the suspension will have to deal with less weight and experience less resistance while steering. Alloy wheels are frequently specified when a new car is purchased, but they can also be added as an aftermarket upgrade.
If your neighborhood has a history of alloy wheel theft, your insurance company may raise your rates.
Modifications That May Reduce Your Insurance Premium
Because they have fewer cylinders and are lightweight, tiny engines tend to be highly energy efficient. As a result, automakers are designing new models with smaller engines. Some people prefer to replace their current engine with a smaller one of the same power in order to have the same performance but consuming less fuel. Just as a larger engine might raise your insurance cost, a smaller engine can lower it.
Upgrading your brakes will alter the way your vehicle behaves on the road. High-temperature brake pads and fluid, for example, are commonly used by sports car drivers in order to achieve shorter, more consistent stops.
In some cases, it is possible to fit high-performance brakes on non-sports automobiles. If your car is already heavily customized, you may be able to get a discount of up to 15% on your insurance by installing better brakes.
However, most automobiles are already equipped with adequate brakes. It is unlikely that your insurance premium will be changed if your automobile has only a few modifications, such as alloy wheels or suspension.
The handling of a car can be improved by upgrading its suspension, however most vehicles already have excellent suspension. Because of this, unless your car is already extensively changed, you are unlikely to see a change in the cost of your coverage – in which case you may save roughly 5 percent.
A car’s ability to turn or swerve might be harmed by the weight transfer that occurs when the vehicle swerves. The right and left wheels are connected by sway bars, which are also known as anti-roll or stabiliser bars, in some vehicles.
When the sway bar is used, the car does not lean one way or another, but rather, the force is distributed more evenly – the bar goes down on one side and up on the other. An extremely modded vehicle can save as much as 5% by purchasing this add-on.
Other Popular Modifications
Modifications to your car that aren’t stock should be reported to your insurance provider, but many won’t have a significant impact on your insurance rates. Below, you’ll find a selection of these.
Water Cooling Systems (Brakes)
A water cooling system is another addition that increases braking performance. Misting devices have been installed in some cars’ brake ducts to prevent overheating. As a result, your insurance premium is unlikely to be affected.
Sound mods are a popular (and relatively inexpensive) option for gamers. Most people have either seen or heard a car with a subwoofer installed aftermarket. Low-frequency sound is the focus of this speaker system, which focuses on bass and sub-bass. You won’t see an increase in your premium unless you get a high-end system.
Dashboard Add-ons and Upgrades
Adding a built-in satellite navigation system or a car phone to your dashboard is one option, but you can also go with a more aesthetically pleasing option like wood paneling. In either case, your insurance premium is unlikely to be affected.
Custom Gear Knobs
Modifying gear knobs is another option. For some drivers, their current one is worn out or they prefer something more ergonomic or visually appealing, so they’ll buy a new one (e.g. leather, sparkly). Options for novelty include skulls, gaming joysticks, and film prop models. Your ability to switch gears may be impacted, but your insurance premiums aren’t likely to change.
Novelty Hub Caps
Some automobile owners opt to personalize their vehicles by installing special wheel hubcaps, such as spinning hubcaps or light-up hubcaps, to their vehicles. Wheel changes that are not connected to performance are unlikely to raise your insurance premiums, despite the fact that they may be a theft risk.
Do Tinted Windows Affect Insurance?
Legal tinted windows will not raise or lower your insurance premiums, as long as they are properly installed.
Front and side-view windows in the UK cannot be tinted, despite UK law stating that rear windows and the windscreen can be. It is required by law to allow at least 75% of light into the front windscreen and 70% of light out of the front side windows.
Is a Tow Bar Classed as a Modification?
Adding a tow bar to your vehicle is considered a modification, therefore you should inform your insurance company if you do so. However, your insurance premiums are unlikely to be affected by the installation of a tow bar.
Do Wind Deflectors Affect Insurance?
Since wind deflectors are typically sold as an aftermarket equipment by the vehicle’s manufacturer, your insurance company is unlikely to charge you more for having them installed. However, because they are part of the vehicle’s exterior, your insurer should be notified if you install wind deflectors.
Are Headlight Modifications Legal?
Illegal custom headlights are common. Only white and red lights are permitted on the front and back of a vehicle, respectively. An on-the spot fine, a voiding of your insurance policy, and the removal of your vehicle from the road until it is declared road-legal again are all possible consequences of using colored LEDs. This includes LEDs in the washer jets, which are banned from use.
What About Under-car Neon Lights?
Neon lights under the automobile are a popular aftermarket addition. Illegally installed lights are permissible as long as they do not obscure your vision or cause a hazard to other drivers. Flashing under-car lights, for example, are against the law.
In general, installing lights will not raise your insurance premiums. Your claims history and theft risk may also be taken into account by your insurance company if you’re a younger driver and need a supplement to your policy.
Lowering Your Suspension
As long as the steering or headlight aim is not affected, it is legal to lower the suspension of a vehicle. Headlight aiming is regulated to a very high degree because of the danger of blinding other drivers if it is altered in any way.
Lowered cars have a harder time navigating speed bumps and other rough road surfaces. When the car’s suspension is too low, it can compromise its handling, which can put the driver and passengers at risk. However, it is doubtful that this alteration will have an impact on your insurance premium.
Suspension bushings are small rubber or polyurethane components that are intended to isolate vibration, offer cushioning, and minimize friction between metal elements. Polyurethane bushings, which normally last longer and perform a better job of quelling vibrations and minimizing weight transfer, are often replaced with rubber bushings by certain drivers.
This will not affect your insurance, but you should still notify your insurance company of any changes.
After the introduction of speed cameras on British highways in the 1990s, track days became particularly popular. Roll cages and roll bars have become common modifications to cars for the track as a result. In the case of a collision, the driver and/or passenger are protected by these frameworks incorporated into the car.
Standard auto insurance policies are unlikely to cover these, therefore you may want to look into a customized coverage from a specialized insurer.
Other Ways to Reduce Your Modified Car Insurance Premiums
Deterring theft is made easier with the use of security measures like immobilizers, tracking devices, and additional safety locks, all of which can lower your insurance premiums.
Adding an immobiliser to a 1995 or earlier model can decrease your chance of theft and so lower your insurance cost. Additionally, the cost of insurance for a significantly modified car (more than £40,000) can be reduced by installing a tracker.
By having your car customized by you or a mechanic, your insurance premiums can be cut by 15% on average. Having invested time and effort into your vehicle, the insurance company believes you are less likely to mistreat or irresponsibly drive it. In fact, the more alterations you make, the lower your rate will be with some insurers!