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Could modifying your car come with an unexpected cost?

3 minutes

Tempted to tint your windows or add a wrap to your car? Well, while we’re all for a little primping and preening, making adjustments could actually affect your car insurance

We ask an LV= underwriter how much of a motor makeover you can do without losing out on car insurance.

  • What do you need to tell your insurer?
  • What about a policy for a new customised car?
  • What about cosmetic customisations?
  • What about software updates?
  • What about safety technology?
  • How can I insure a modified car?
 

Before you ‘soup up’ your new hot hatch (or your 17 year-old does), LV= Senior Motor Underwriter Michelle Smith explains exactly what modifications will impact your car insurance.  A modification is defined as any change made to a car that alters it from how it was when it left the factory.

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 modification is. 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 premiums.

Some modifications mean that your car becomes more powerful and 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 car insurance. For example, if you’ve changed the air filter or remapped the engine, you can expect to pay a bit 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 that the car breaks down in the future. 

What if you’re buying a policy for a customised car?

Most insurers will ask if there have been any changes from the standard specification when you take out insurance, so 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, such as a window tint?

You should still tell your insurer about changes to the bodywork, interior or exterior of the car. These alterations can change the value of the car and can also make it more of a target to car thieves. Even small changes, such as adding a tint to the windows, could affect insurance.

If you do add a tint to your windows, make sure you don’t make them too dark, as they could then become 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 the windscreen.

Before you customise your car, make sure the change won’t stop your car from being road legal. 

Do I need to tell my insurer about software updates?

We do want customers to tell us about software updates that increase performance. But for software upgrades that improve the infotainment system, or similar, you don’t need to tell your insurer. If in doubt, get in touch with them.

What 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, such as AEB, parking sensors or a dash cam – and we take this into account when setting a car insurance price. Generally, these safety and security features reduce the risk of accident or theft.

As such, it’s a good idea to let your insurer know when you add any safety technology features to your car. 

How can I insure a modified car, and what happens if you don’t mention a modification?

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. 

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