Car modifications are often associated with young men who want their car to be faster and louder, in every sense. Yet there are there practical modifications anyone can make. But if you want to mod your car, how will it affect your insurance?
What is a car modification?
We define a modification as any kind of alteration to a vehicle that wasn't in the manufacturer's standard specification, or wasn't fitted as an option when the vehicle was manufactured. It could range from a cosmetic change – such as alloy wheels or body kits – to more practical enhancements, such as dual control or parking sensors.
What modifications don't affect my car insurance?
Any modification will almost certainly affect your insurance, and various car mods will tend to raise your premium.
For instance, a substantially enhanced car could significantly increase its value. Or a shinier, prettier car is more likely to be broken into or stolen. And if you dramatically increase the car's power and performance, most insurers will see the vehicle as a higher accident risk.
But certain modifications won't adversely affect your quote if they're likely to decrease the risk of an accident. So we don't count tow bars or parking sensors as modifications, because a car with a tow bar is likely to be driven at a slower pace for some of the time, and reversing with parking sensors make a prang less likely.
One modification that caused a little confusion in recent years was winter tyres. We had heard that some insurers were raising premiums, or even refusing cover to drivers who fitted winter tyres, but this should no longer be the case.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has produced a commitment setting out the position of certain insurers regarding winter tyres. Check the ABI's list, as a few insurers require you to tell them you've fitted winter tyres even though your premium or cover won't change.
Are modifications a young man's game?
Not at all. According to our Members at least, car modifications aren't restricted to young men.
For instance, we found that a third of all modifications are carried out by women. And parking sensors were most popular among drivers over 75.
While men were responsible for the most popular kind of mod, alloy wheels, they appealed to all age groups and both sexes. The oldest person who decided they needed better wheels was 85.
Many of the most popular modifications address practical concerns. Dual controls might be installed by a driving instructor, and disabled drivers might fit hand controls. Another popular modification is the conversion of petrol cars to run on cleaner, cheaper LPG fuel.
What should I do if I mod my car?
If you want to modify a car, talk to your insurer before you spend any money. Even something as apparently minor as a go-faster stripe could signal a higher risk and alter your premium.
If you've already altered your car, don't worry. We can give you an online quote for a maximum of two modifications. If the car has more than two modifications, or the mod in question isn't in our list, then call us on 0800 197 7178. We may still be able to give you a quote.