Could modifying your car come with an unexpected cost?

4 minute read

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There are lots of reasons to modify a car. But do you know how much it could cost? Our motor specialist reveals what you can do without losing out on insurance.

Although making changes to your car might sound exciting, you could find yourself without any insurance at all.

  • Car modifications explained
  • What you need to tell your insurer
  • The dangers of not declaring
Ready to ‘soup up’ your new hot hatch? Or maybe your 17-year-old is? Hang on a minute. Before you get carried away, you need to consider how any modifications may impact your car insurance. Over a quarter (28%) of drivers behind the wheel of a modified car have been involved in road accidents

In this article, LV= Motor Underwriter Sarah Amos explains exactly what modifications will influence your car insurance.

Could your car insurance be affected by modifications?

What does modification mean?

A modification is defined as any change made to a car that alters it from the standard manufacturer or factory specifications. These changes range from cosmetic changes (alloy wheels) to practical enhancements (parking sensors).


What do you need to tell your insurer if you modify your car?

Before you make any changes to your car, you’ll need to let your insurer know what the modifications are. They’ll then be able to tell you if there are any changes to your cover. Any modification is likely to have an impact on your insurance premium.

Some modifications make your car more powerful, which could increase the risk of having an accident. Generally, changes that improve the value or performance of your car will increase the cost of your insurance. For example, if you’ve altered the air filter or remapped the engine, you can expect to start paying more for your cover.

However, insurers won’t cover cars with certain modifications. Putting a more powerful engine in the car, for example, might not only affect the performance. If it’s not installed correctly, it could increase the chance of future breakdowns.


Do I need to tell my insurer about OTA updates?

Over-the-air (OTA) monthly updates are covered as standard when you insure your electric vehicle with us. However, if you or the previous owner have paid for any additional performance upgrades that affect speed or acceleration, you must let us know. You'll only need to tell us once, not every time you upgrade.


Can I insure a customised car?

Most insurers will ask if there have been any changes from the standard specification when you take out your policy. You’ll need to tell your insurer about any modifications - even if you didn’t make them, or they were on the car when you bought it.


What about cosmetic customisations?

You should inform your insurer about changes to the bodywork on both the interior and exterior of your car. These alterations can change a vehicle’s value and can also make it more of a target to car thieves. Even small changes could affect insurance.


Are tinted windows a modification?

Yes, any tint counts as a modification. If you do add a tint, this should remain within the legal limits – too dark, and they could be considered illegal. The law states that the front side windows must let at least 70% of light through, while the windscreen must let at least 75% of light through. Cars first used before 1 April 1985 need to let 70% of light through both the windscreen and front side windows.

Before you customise your car, you should make sure any changes won’t stop your vehicle from being road legal.


Do I need to tell my insurer about software updates?

Customers should tell us about software updates that increase performance, or add new functionality to the car, such as adaptive headlights. However, for software upgrades that improve the infotainment system, or similar, you don’t need to inform your insurer.


Do I need to tell my insurer about modifications that improve safety?

When you apply for insurance on a new car, we’ll also ask if the vehicle has any safety features, as well as modifications, parking sensors, or a dash cam. We take this into account when setting your car insurance price. 

Security features, such as extra locking devices and immobilisers, could help to lower the cost of your policy. Generally, these safety and security features reduce the risk of accident or theft. So, it’s a good idea to let your insurer know when you add any extra safety tech to your car.


Can I insure a car with modifications?

If you have a modified car, or intend to modify your vehicle, you can get a quote with LV= online and select any modifications your car has from the list. Alternatively, you can call us directly for a quote.


What is the best modified car insurance?

Many insurance companies offer policies for modified cars. LV= can insure some cars with changes or modifications as part of a standard policy. The easiest way to find out is to get a quote and answer the question ‘Has your car been changed in any way from the standard manufacturer specifications?’ Simply select from the list of applicable changes, which include body work changes and security features.


What if I don’t tell my insurer about a modification to my car?

If your insurer doesn’t know about a modification you’ve made (or intend to make) to your car, and you then have to make a claim on your insurance, they may reject the claim or reduce the payments they make.


Can insurers tell if your car is remapped?

It’s difficult for insurers to tell if a car is remapped. However, you should inform your insurance provider if it is. Remapping is considered a modification and, therefore, a change from your original insurance. If you don’t, you may invalidate your policy, or you could even find yourself in legal trouble for hiding information from your provider. This may result in your provider increasing your premium or refusing further cover.

If you are in a car accident, the police can see your engine has been remapped, so you could be in big trouble.


Will your car insurance policy be invalid if you don’t declare modifications?

Although this is at the discretion of the insurer, there is a potential risk. With remapping, not declaring any other form of modification puts you at risk of your policy becoming invalid.


How can I check a used car for modifications before I buy it?

Before buying a used car, ask the seller if it has been modified. You can also look to spot modifications on a car when giving it a thorough check.

  • Walk around the vehicle: give the car a physical inspection by studying it in broad daylight. This can show up changes, flaws, and damages.
  • Exhaust, pipe, and filter customisations: if these were made with low-quality alternatives, they can wear off and will quickly need replacing.
  • Tyres: if you notice tyres with multiple brands, that can be a sign of modification.
  • Tinted windows: How dark is the tint? Does it look too dark to meet the legal requirements described earlier?

If you’re not sure after checking, bear in mind the possibility of legal issues if there have been modifications made without you being aware. Your car insurance could be made void if any unclaimed modifications are discovered by an insurer.

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Don’t put yourself at risk – contact LV= today to find out how we can help you with finding the right car insurance policy for your modified car.

Sit back, relax and start your car insurance quote