If you’re looking at your current car and wondering whether you might make a few modifications, then it’s worth taking stock of all of the consequences. Are the changes you’re making really going to improve the driving experience? And have you accounted for all of the costs of modification, including those which might be hidden?
Let’s first consider the changes you might make inside the car. These might include changes to the engine, the suspension, the brakes and the gearbox. You’ll find performance versions of each of these components available, which are designed to improve the way that the car drives. There’s a distinction to be made here between improvements and mere replacements.
If your clutch wears out and your mechanic advises that you replace it, then the replacement will be a stock component, and probably one that’s common to several different vehicles. That does not count as a modification. If, however, you shun the stock component in favour of one that’s been designed especially to be different to the one that came with the car, then that’s a modification, and you’ll need to tell your insurer about it.
Sound systems, satnav, bucket seats, and heated seats are popular mods made to the interior. You’ll need to tell your insurer about them, but you might not see a rise in your actual premium.
The modifications you make to the outside of your car tend to be made for aesthetic reasons. The one to watch out for here is tinted windows. Your rear windows and windscreen can be tinted as much as you like (think limousines with a-list celebrities in them). But your front windscreen can’t be tinted beyond a certain level, or you’ll find yourself getting pulled over. The same applies to under-car neon lights which provide a distraction to other road users.
What to Consider if you’re modifying
An unexpected rise in insurance costs is among the most common source of upgrader’s remorse. Shortfall gap insurance provider Direct Gap have penned a long article on the subject, in which many of the pitfalls are explained. Aesthetic modifications, like new paint jobs and body kits, will not effect your premium, however – as they don’t effect the actual performance of the car.
Why does the insurance cost rise?
The long and short of it is that any modification you make to your car will take it beyond the parameters under which it was designed and tested, and that statistically speaking, modified cars are at greater risk than non-modified ones. Your insurer doesn’t know exactly how your car will behave if you give it more torque through modification, and thus the calculated risk they’re taking in covering you will need to be adjusted in order to account for this.