When you take out an auto insurance policy, you are entering into an agreement with the insurance company. That agreement is predicated though on the information that you provided when you received your quote and thus it is dependent on that information being up-to-date and accurate.
For example, if you take out full-comprehensive car insurance on the basis that you are keeping your car in a garage, then it is important that you in fact do keep your car in a garage. If you move home and your car is now being kept on the driveway and it gets stolen, then the company has the opportunity to refuse to pay out and you might even receive a fine for having attempted to fabricate information. It is your responsibility to not only make sure you provide accurate and honest information when you take out your insurance policy but also that you keep that information up-to-date and inform the company of any changes as they occur.
But what if your car itself changes?
Modifying Your Car
The answer to this question will depend very much on the nature of the modification, as well as the terms of your original agreement with the policy provider.
One thing to consider, is that certain modifications can increase the cost of your insurance and it’s very important to make sure that you update the insurance company with this information as soon as that is the case. In this scenario, you might not need special coverage as such, but you will need to change the details of your current policy.
The reason for this is that modifying your car can actually change the statistical likelihood of a payout. In particular, a car insurance company will often view drivers that have modifications of a certain nature as being more likely to have an accident.
If you were to add a spoiler to the back of your car for example, then this might make you appear to be a ‘boy racer’ in the eyes of an insurance company. That is to say that statistically, someone with a spoiler on the back of their car is marginally more likely to drive quickly, which in turn means that they are more likely to have an accident and thus more expensive to insure. This is not personal or discriminatory, it is simply based on the statistics. But what this also means, is that if you change your car to have this feature and you don’t let the insurance company know, then you will have the wrong insurance policy. That in turn means that if you have an accident, your coverage may not be valid.
The same also goes for other modifications, including some seemingly innocuous ones. For example, if you have alloys added to your wheels, then this can also mean you need to spend more on your car insurance. Many auto insurance companies will classify cars as modified as well if they have alterations to the body or frame, or if performance is ‘significantly augmented’.
Does that mean ‘special coverage’? In most cases no, but if the changes you have made make your car particularly difficult to insure, then you might find yourself needing to look for a specialist insurer in that case.
If you’re unsure whether such a modification is going to be covered by your existing policy, then the best way to be safe is to call your company and let them know. They’ll be able to inform you as to whether you need to do anything extra. It’s a bit of hassle and expense now, but it’s certainly better in the long-run than finding out that your insurance policy doesn’t cover you and having to therefore pay for the damages yourself!
Modifications Not Covered by Your Car
Another thing to consider, is that not all modifications are likely to be covered by your insurance. That means that if you have added something very expensive to your vehicle, then that itself might need extra insurance – otherwise if your car is damaged or stolen then you’ll have to pay out for that item again.
For example then, if your car has an expensive stereo, then you may wish to insure that separately in case of theft, or in case the stereo is damaged in a crash. You might be able to take out this insurance at the time of purchase from the manufacturer. Otherwise, you may need to get it through your auto insurance.
In that case, look for ‘supplemental coverage’. This is coverage that will offer you money for extra parts, up to an arbitrary amount such as $4,000. That supplemental coverage will often be an option that you can tick or untick at the time of getting your initial quote. Even a paint job can actually end up counting as an extra supplement, if it is custom and if it significantly increases the value of your vehicle.
When getting this type of insurance, it’s important to compare the offers from multiple companies and to see how this will affect your overall quote. It might end up changing which insurance company you ultimately decide to go with!
Another thing to consider, is whether or not you still want to make the modification. When considering the cost and reward of something like a spoiler, you need to enter this into price comparison sites and see how much this is likely to increase your premiums on average. You then need to factor that into the total cost and then decide from there whether or not you still want to go ahead with the customization.
Note as well that classic/collectible car insurance is a separate category altogether.
Do You Need Special Coverage For Modifications?
In most cases then, a simple modification won’t make much odds to your insurance policy but it’s always important to check with the company before you go ahead. And if you want extra coverage for an expensive upgrade, consider getting ‘supplemental’ insurance specifically.