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Insuring a modified car

Modifying a car can increase it's performance, improve how it looks or just personalise it the way you want. There are many things that can be done to a car from tuning the engine to upgrading the in-car entertainment system. However, it is important to keep in mind that some changes may have an impact on your car insurance premiums, often resulting in higher costs.

Examples of common modifications

Most modifications will fall into one of two categories; increasing performance of the vehicle, or altering the car's appearance. The following is a basic but not exhaustive list of alterations that an insurance company would want to be informed of:
  • Engine tuning
  • Exhaust system
  • Brakes
  • Suspension
  • and tyres
  • Lights and reflectors
  • Bodywork and spoilers
  • Tinted windows
  • Interior
  • Paint work and stickers
  • Personalised number plates
  • In-car entertainment

Stay safe!
It is important to stay safe and keep the vehicle road legal when making modifications. The riskiest changes that will see the biggest rise in insurance premiums are those made to the cars mechanical performance. Too many alterations to the car can even have a negative effect on road handling and safety. Generally speaking, the safest modifications are those that alter the appearance in a relatively minor way such as applying sticker kits or a paint job.Upgrading your car stereo wouldn't affect your car's safety but will increase the chance of theft; and a thief can cause a lot of damage whilst stealing from a car.To protect your car, your stereo and possibly yourself, don't make it too obvious.

Keep costs down

When you apply for car insurance the company will ask if there are any modification made to the car and it is important to be clear and upfront. Essentially, any change made to the car that alters its specification from original manufacture can be considered as a modification that needs to be declared to the insurers. Changes to a car not only alter it's overall value but can make it more attractive to thieves or alter it's performance in a way that affects safety. Insurance companies calculate premiums based on risk. Once a change is made to the car beyond the original factory specification the insurer will view this as having a potential impact on the safety or structural integrity of the vehicle. As there is no guarantee on the work being carried out on the car, the insurer will translate this increase in risk into higher premium costs for the owner. Also, it is worth being aware that younger drivers will see the biggest increase in premiums when cars are modified.

The best way to avoid being hit with large cost increases to your car insurance is to first consult with your current insurer and tell them what you intend to do. This will give you an idea of the level of impact it will have and help with your decision.

There are also a number of specialised car insurance companies that will cater specifically for modified car owners. Shopping around will help find the best deal.

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