Cars are a big part of our lives nowadays and, for most of us, are a real source of pride. According to American Express, UK motorists will spend an estimated £108bn on cars in 2017, showing that many people are willing to spend their hard-earned cash on personalising their wheels to their own tastes.
One of the most common ways to adapt cars is to add modifications, whether they’re performance related or merely for cosmetic reasons. This could be in the form of a spoiler, a racing stripe or even just some sticker decal.
But, do these sort of modifications really up your premiums? And if they do, what can you do to counteract this?
We’ve done the research to give you the lowdown.
What are the different types of modification?
Performance car parts are any sort of modification that has been made purely to improve your car’s performance, usually to increase its speed. Some examples of performance modifications include altering the suspension, changing the engine or upgrading your exhaust.
On the other hand, cosmetic car parts are those purely designed to improve the appearance of a car, such as speaker systems, different body kits, spoilers or changing the seats.
We spoke to VW Motor Parts who explained that “a change to your car is generally classed as a modification if it alters the car from the manufacturer’s original specification, even if it’s something minimal like adding a racing stripe. Many people don’t realise that smaller changes can also be classed as modifications in insurers’ eyes.”
Will modifications increase my insurance?
In a nutshell, most modifications will increase your insurance premiums whether they’re cosmetic or performance parts.
When issuing a policy, insurers base their quotes on risk, including the risk of accident, theft or damage to your car. And, to most insurers, modifications can increase the likelihood of these things happening.
Statistics have shown that drivers who’ve modified their car’s performance are more likely to have an accident, whilst cars with cosmetic changes are more appealing to thieves or vandalism. Similarly, most modifications will increase your car’s value, meaning the potential cost of replacing it will be higher for insurers.
Consequently, insurers counteract this risk by increasing premiums. Even adding functional modifications such as satnavs and phone kits can increase insurance, due to increasing the risk of theft.
What are the top modifications to increase insurance?
Money Supermarket analysed 2.3 million insurance quotes for modified vehicles to find out which modifications can increase your insurance the most.
According to their findings, installing a turbo engine will increase your premium by 132%, whilst a change to the car’s bodywork can result in a 66% rise. Transmission or gearing changes could also set you back another 63% on your premium.
For the full results, see this page.
Is there anything I can do to reduce this?
There are some factors which can reduce insurance costs despite having a modified car, the easiest of which is to install security devices.
Installing parts such as an immobiliser, alarm, and tracker will reduce your car’s risk of being stolen, meaning most insurers will consider you to be at lower risk. Even cheap options like a steering wheel lock will help to improve security.
Similarly, improvements such as parking sensors and towbars can help to reduce your premiums.
There are also many car insurers, like Keith Michaels, that specialise in modified car insurance meaning they might be able to offer a better deal than most insurers.
Whilst it might be tempting to avoid telling your insurers about any modifications in order to avoid the increased costs, this would be considered as fraudulent and could invalidate your policy should you need to make a claim.