Modified Cars and Insurance Costs
Cars that have been customised or modified in any way can attract higher insurance premiums, and in many
cases this is exactly what happens. However, if you take a more detailed look into the subject of modified
cars and their insurance policies it soon becomes obvious that things aren't always this simple. One reason for
this might be due to the amount of modifications it is possible to do to a car, right from the very simple such
as fitting alloy wheels, body kits and tinted windows, to the more adventurous type that increase its speed and
performance. And these few examples don't come anywhere close to the actual number of modifications that are
possible. Because of this there is ample scope for insurance premiums to be affected in many different ways,
with some modifications only causing a small increase in premium while others can virtually send it
through the roof. This does tend to make modified car insurance a rather confusing topic, and can leave
the whole thing wide open to a lot of speculation.
Another reason for the complex nature of modified car insurance could well be attributed to the insurance
companies themselves, as each will often have their own set of guidelines for calculating quotes.
So diverse are these guidelines that at any one time it is thought nearly half of all UK
insurers are unwilling to quote for modified cars at all. The rationale behind this is that modified cars
pose a much higher risk on the road, consequently many insurers choose not to take on this extra risk,
which from a business point of view does make perfect sense. Instead they prefer to market their
products towards those deemed less risky, that is the drivers of standard, unmodified and
non-customised cars. Fortunately there are exceptions however, so finding an insurance company
willing to give a quote is not altogether impossible. Many of these will be specialist insurers who have
built their business around the modified car market, though you might be lucky and find several of the
well-known brands are still willing to give a quote too. It does depend a lot on the amount and type
of modifications that you have done. Too many and you could well be left with only with the specialist insurer
willing to give you cover.
Two Common Questions Regarding Modified Cars
There are probably hundreds of questions that come to mind when debating modified car insurance, but
the two that most frequently crop up are:
- What changes do insurers class as modifications?
- Are there any modifications that do not have a negative affect on insurance?
Unfortunately there is no definitive answer to either of these. The answers lie with each individual
insurance company and the guidelines they adhere to when calculating quotes. It's therefore a wise move
for anyone thinking of modifying their car to find out in advance what the insurance implications are likely
to be. This is quite easily done by calling up the insurer's customer service department or emailing them
and requesting the information. At least with this knowledge beforehand you have chance to
reassess the situation, and if it's going to prove costly you can either put the modifications on hold or
search around for cheaper, alternative cover.
A Few Rules of Thumb
Although modified cars are treated differently by many insurance companies there are still a few
generalisations that appear common to all. One of these is the point at which a car is deemed modified.
Generally speaking it is when changes have taken place that alter it from its original factory
configuration. This does appear to leave little room for doing any modifications at all without it
affecting your insurance, and strictly speaking this is very true, however there are modifications that
can be considered more insurance-friendly than others.
Any modification that increases a car's value is highly likely to increase your premium. When calculating
quotes insurance companies use this statistic as a major contributing factor to the overall cost, so any
increase in value will naturally affect your insurance. Also, modifications that enhance a car's performance
will often result in increased insurance costs. Some examples of this are: altering a car's suspension,
tweaking the engine or fitting an exhaust system capable of increasing its performance. If at the same time
these are fitted professionally then they may also increase a car's value. This would automatically make
the car a much higher risk on the road and subject insurers to more expensive claim payouts. An insurance
policy for a car of this type would undoubtedly cost the owner a lot more.
Fitting alloy wheels to a car is probably one of the easiest and most widely done alterations, but
many are unsure whether this is classed as a modification or not. The bad news is that in theory it
is. It all stems back to the car losing its original factory configuration. If the car came off the
production line without alloy wheels then in reality it has undergone some modification. Although having
alloys will not normally increase a car's performance it can increase its value. This is why those who fit
them should be prepared for an adjustment on their insurance, as many companies will take their additional
value into account.
It's worth noting that no matter how much you spend on modifying a car, you will often find that insurance
companies retain its original value for the policy. This means in the event of a claim you would be
looking at the car's unmodified value, and not as it stands with all the extras you may have added.
Legal Obligations With Modified Cars
One important thing to remember is that you are legally obliged to inform insurers of any
modifications that you do. This is vitally important as failing to declare them can potentially invalidate
your entire insurance policy. This would mean in the event of you making a claim, and the insurers discovering
an undisclosed modification to your car, you could be left high and dry with a null and void policy.
The modification disclosure rule is normally found in the terms and conditions of a policy, with the onus
very much on the policyholder having to inform the insurer, and not the other way round like many seem
Thatcham Rated Devices
Thatcham ratings (NVSR) are an easy way of identifying the security and anti-theft effectiveness of
any vehicle, with the system awarding up to five stars for cars that perform well in security tests.
Cars given higher ratings are deemed less of a risk to insurers and naturally tend to attract
lower insurance premiums. Along with vehicle ratings, Thatcham also test car security devices
and rigorously check many of those that are on sale in the UK. By fitting a Thatcham approved device you are
significantly enhancing your car's security, and at the same time giving insurers a great opportunity to
be more lenient with your insurance costs. Adding an approved security device is probably the
only modification that does not run the risk of increasing a premium, and on the whole it will generally
attract a healthy discount.
Finding a Good Deal on Modified Car Insurance
While it can be slightly harder finding companies that do quote for modified cars, it certainly isn't
impossible. However, since the choice is a little limited it does have its drawbacks. One of these is the
ability to do a comprehensive quote comparison before buying. With fewer companies willing to give quotes
the task of finding the best offers is made a lot harder. It is, after all, through careful analysis and quote
comparisons that the best savings are made.
The number of quotes you can get may altogether lie with the amount of modifications you have done. If
it's simply just a few small changes then you might find several of the big brand names still willing to
offer you insurance. In order to make life a little easier, we've put together a few of them so you
can begin comparing quotes right away.
Compare Car Insurance Quotes Here