What Modifications Void and Affect Car Insurance?

6th April 2018

By James Story

Are you thinking about modifying your car? Perhaps you’ve just purchased a new car that’s already been modified? How can these changes affect your insurance premium? And when will you need to notify your insurance provider about these changes?

This article explains everything you need to know about car insurance, modifications and common pitfalls to look out for. Read on for our complete guide about the types of mods that can void your car insurance, how to avoid illegal mods that could get you in trouble with the law, and ways to find the cheapest car insurance for your modified vehicle.


How Do Car Modifications Affect Insurance?

If you’ve ever considered adding extras to your motor, you’re just like millions of others across the UK who take pride in their car. But car modifications aren’t just popular amongst boy racers and petrolheads. There can be a practical side to it too, with many modifications being designed to improve your driving experience and provide better economy of fuel for car owners.

Whether its spoilers to provide better handling of the car, a new set of alloy wheels, a custom body kit for aesthetic purposes, or engine remapping for better performance, there are lots of ways you can enhance your car. All of these things can affect your insurance, so the important thing to do is to keep your insurer informed of everything that has been done.

For car enthusiasts, these kinds of mods can be a fun and interesting way to personalise your pride and joy and it can even turn into a dedicated hobby. However, there is a downside to modifying your car as it can drive up the price of your premium – or if you’re not careful, it could even void your insurance policy altogether.


Why Do I Have to Pay a Higher Premium?

Modifications to your car usually mean an increased risk for your insurance provider. This is the leading reason why you may see a price increase on your insurance policy. Not all modifications will cause your premium to go through the roof – but it’s important to do your research before you make any changes to your motor in order to prevent this from happening.

Insurance companies will offer quotes based on the make/model of your car, your personal details (such as age and experience) and on national statistics. These are all the ‘risk factors’ that can affect your quote. Statistically, motorists driving high-performance vehicles will be at a higher risk of being involved in a road accident, which is why modifications really do matter. A car’s performance (including mods to make it faster) have to be taken into consideration when an insurer decides to insure you.

The same can apply for cosmetic changes too (such as specialist paintwork or tinted windows), as this can put your vehicle at higher risk of theft. Again, this can result in mounting insurance costs for the owner.


What Counts as ‘Modifications’?

One of the most confusing things with car modifications and insurance today is understanding exactly what counts as a ‘mod’. There are some alterations that many people don’t even realise fall into this category when talking to insurers.

So, what counts as ‘modifications’ for car insurance companies? A modification involves any change made to your car from its original condition. In car insurance modifications terms, this means anything that has made your car look or perform differently. It could be something as elaborate as under-car neon lighting or something as simple as parking sensors or a new sunroof for the summer.

The rule to stick to if you want to avoid any insurance premium shocks is to do your homework before making any alterations. Always notify your insurance provider, no matter how small the modification may be. If you are unsure of what counts as a modification, speak to a representative on the phone to get advice.


Does This Include Modifications from the Car Dealer?

Yes, the word ‘modifications’ means any changes made to your vehicle, including those optional extras offered by your car dealer. So, if you agree to have an in-car sat nav, upgraded leather upholstery or a sound system fitted, this will affect your insurance.

These add-ons often come included with the build of a new car purchase, so buyers can make the very innocent mistake of not realising that they have paid for modifications to their new vehicle. In the worst-case scenario, this can result in insurance policies being voided when it comes to claiming for a road accident or incident of theft.

The good news is that factory fitted alterations from car manufacturers are market-approved and are designed to be fully compatible with the car’s unique specifications. Because of this, they aren’t likely to add too much more to your insurance quote.


What Modifications Void Car Insurance?

Any modification that has not been declared can make your insurance policy invalid. There are also some illegal modifications that can land you in trouble with the law, as well as making your insurance completely void. We recommend being particularly cautious with expensive mods that have very confusing rules surrounding them. Always speak to an expert or call your insurer for advice if you are unsure of how it will affect your policy.

Here are the modifications to be very wary of:

Tinted windows – adding a tint to your windows is legal. However, having dark windows that can restrict the driver’s vision is not. According to the law, your windows must be able to let in at least 70% of light. To avoid breaking the law, do not use DIY tint kits which are easily bought online. If you choose to have tints, get it done by an approved contractor. 

Under car lights – under car neon lights are a favourite for car enthusiasts and hobbyists. But the legality of this alteration isn’t entirely straight-forward. It’s important to follow the rules of The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 to prevent breaking the law. There are many caveats surrounding lighting colour and positioning, so be sure to study the guidelines carefully.

Wheel modifications – altering your tyres can improve the handling of the car but stick to wheels and tyres that have been approved by the car manufacturer to ensure you are well within the legal guidelines. If you select bigger tyres, make sure they fit properly and don’t stick out too far – otherwise, you could be fined £2,500 for incorrect tyres.

Sound/noise modifiers – the legal limit for engine noise level is set at 74 decibels for road vehicles and 76 decibels for off-road vehicles in the UK. Any mods that increase the external noise emitted by a passenger car to above the legal limit could void your insurance and land you with a fine if caught.  

Personalised plates – this very popular modification seems innocent enough, but there’s a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice for anyone who doesn’t meet the requirements. Number plates must be displayed in a clear position and must not be misleading to road users. Number plates also need to abide by the current legislation regarding font size, spacing and formatting.


Things to Think about before Going Ahead

Whilst it’s still possible to get a good insurance deal with a modified car, there are some changes that will make it much harder. There are even some insurance companies that will completely refuse to insure you if you have made certain alternations to your car’s performance.

An example to look at is remapping your engine, a legal modification that can help to improve the performance of your car and help to give you better fuel economy. Despite it being completely legal, it could cause problems with your insurance company. It will increase your premium at the very least, so think twice before going ahead.

Other mods that can result in significant insurance spikes include turbocharging, transmission and gearing changes, adding a complete body kit, wheel arches, and roll bars or roll cages.

Finding Car Insurance for Modified Cars

The best way to find modified car insurance is to shop around online and compare car insurance policies with different providers. There are plenty of offers and deals out there, so it’s always worth checking before you sign your money away.

It is a legal requirement to notify your current insurance company of any changes you make to your vehicle, and this can result in your premium going up either at the time of renewal or with immediate effect. So, using an online comparison tool is essential if you want to prevent this from happening.

Use our free and easy car insurance car comparison tool to get an instant quote today.

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