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Do all car modifications affect car insurance premiums?

More than a means of getting you from A to B, your car is one of the most important and valuable things you’ll ever own. It’s for that reason that a desire to take care of it comes naturally; making sure the interior and exterior look their best, and that the engine runs as smoothly as possible. But you may want it to reflect your personality and your tastes, too. 

As car designs can be quite limited, if you want your vehicle to really look the way you want it, there’s usually only one way about it – modifications. 

That might sound like a great idea, but you need to be cautious, as insurers tend not to look favourably on modifications. They’ll ask you to declare these, and your insurance could be invalidated if you don’t disclose. In the worst-case scenario, you might struggle to take out a policy altogether. 

But, while you do have to declare all modifications, are there any that won’t have a knock-on effect for your premium? 

In this guide, we’ll explain all. 

Minor car modifications

The bottom line is that even the most minor modifications can affect your car insurance premium. 

That’s because insurance companies look at three key factors when it comes to calculating risk, and in turn, your premium. These are: 

  1. Will the modification increase the risk of theft?
  2. Will they raise the risk of an accident happening?
  3. Will the new modification increase the value of the car, therefore making it more expensive to replace or repair? 

Below is a list of common minor modifications and how they may impact your insurance: 

Alloy wheels

If you upgrade your alloy wheels or even paint them, this could cause your insurance premiums to rise. This is because they make your vehicle more attractive to would-be car thieves, and the theft of the alloys themselves is a common insurance claim. Alloy wheel modifications may also present safety concerns, namely if they’re not like for like size. 

Car seats

Changing the upholstery of your car to sports or leather seats almost certainly won’t affect your premium, but more radical changes, such as removing seats altogether would be an issue for your insurer.  

If you're considering modifying your car seats in any way, you’ll need to declare it to your insurance provider, just in case. 

Roof racks

Fitting a roof rack to your vehicle shouldn’t result in any changes to your insurance premium. However, to be on the safe side, it’s best to always let your insurer know in advance. 

Tow bar

Adding one of these to your car could actually help you bring your insurance premium down. This is because you’ll be perceived to be travelling at lower speeds. 

Parking sensors

Again, these are seen as a good modification that could help to reduce your insurance premiums. They make you less likely to claim for bumps and scrapes incurred when parking. 

Car decals

These can be a grey area when it comes to insurance premiums. While some providers don’t mind decorative modification such as vinyl wraps, many do. 

Even though these might not affect how you drive, an addition like racing stripes could be taken by an insurer to suggest that you’re a riskier driver. Therefore, you should check with your provider before adding the modifications. 

Additionally, if the decals are promoting your business, make sure your insurance has you covered for commercial purposes, too. 

Tinted windows

Although they’re a popular modification, tinted windows can actually be quite risky. This is because they must let in at least 70% light in order to be legal. Because of this, it’s important to ensure you get them done properly rather than opting for a DIY job. 

Some insurers won’t even cover cars with a tinted window modification, while others will bump up the price significantly, so bear that in mind before going for this kind of modification. 

Other modifications

While these modifications are quite minor, there are a few that should be avoided altogether, as they could result in you breaking the law and voiding your insurance altogether. These include: 

  • Neon lights underneath the car
  • Illegal wheel modifications
  • Sound or noise modifiers, such as exhausts

Most importantly, if you make any changes to your car, or if you’re considering doing so, you should always consult your insurance provider before going ahead with it. 

It’s also worth noting that, on new cars, any dealer fitted extras - and even some manufacturer fitted extras - could be considered to be modifications, so they also need to be disclosed to your insurer. 

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