Many motor heads across the country like to personalise their cars with modifications to improve both the appearance and performance. Whilst turbo-powered engines and specialist wheels intended for use on the racetrack may certainly impress friends and fellow car enthusiasts, it can have a sizable impact on the amount you are paying for your car insurance each month, if you can find an insurance company that is willing to cover you at all!
While it can be all too tempting to add some shiny new alloy wheels or even some extra headlights, looking into how insurance companies grade modified and personalised cars may change your mind, and give you an idea as to why these changes can affect the cost of insurance.
How Do Insurance Companies View My Car?
The main reasons insurance costs increase after a vehicle is significantly modified are because it increases risk in two main areas:
Risk of theft
There’s no doubt that car modifications make a vehicle stand out far from the rest, but they have also been known to be particularly noticeable to thieves as well. A car that is aesthetically modified gives an indication that there may be additional engine and performance modifications under the bonnet, and for some car thieves this is a green light to take your pride and joy.
Other smaller modifications such as in-car mp3 and charge stations, or fitted satellite navigation systems are also a sign that your car is worth breaking into for thieves, so be sure to put away all gadgets and gizmos when leaving your car if possible!
Risk of Collision
Modifications that change the appearance and performance of your vehicle can also greatly raise your insurance cost. This is due to the amount of cars with ‘sports grade’ modifications that are often involved in collisions on the road.
Adding racing style modifications to your vehicle not only makes it a little more erratic to drive, but it also implies to the insurance agency that you may be planning to drive the car excessively fast and irresponsibly. While many car modification enthusiasts are in it purely as a hobby, it’s no secret that many motorists use performance modifications to drive dangerously on streets and around residential areas, leading to an increase in insurance premiums.
Money Supermarket carried out a huge data analysis to produce a chart (below) that can give you a great idea of exactly which car modifications will raise the cost of your insurance the most.
As you can see from the chart above, modifications such as turbo-charging and nitrous oxide additions have the most sizable impact on insurance costs, almost doubling the price in some cases. This is due to the increase in speed and acceleration these modifications add to vehicles, often greatly increasing the risk of more serious collisions and greater damage to the car of the owner and others on the road.
The chart also shows an increase in insurance costs for modifications such as custom paint jobs and decals, showing that insurance companies also see aesthetic modifications as a cause for concern.
As a final note to this chart, we can see that there is a decrease in the cost of insurance coverage when adding ‘driver aid’ modifications to a vehicle, such as parking sensors, tow bars and accessibility modifications.
Car Modification Demographics
Another chart shown below (also taken from Money Supermarket’s study) shows which age and sex groups are more prone to car modifications and personalisations.
As you can see, young males between the ages of 17-23 are much more prone to driving cars with ‘pimped out’ modifications that insurance companies would consider a risk, both in terms of risk of theft, and risk of collisions. When combining this with the fact that young males in this age group have the highest insurance premiums in the first place, younger drivers should be particularly careful when choosing to add certain modifications to their car, unless they are willing to pay out a considerable sum of money for insurance coverage.
So there we have a short and simple look into how car modifications can affect a driver’s insurance. Remember to always take the safety of others and yourself into consideration when adding these modifications, and use them responsibly if you’re willing to fork out the extra cost!