Drivers warned they must notify their insurer if they modify their vehicle or risk invalidating their policy

1st June 2015


Drivers are being warned not to inadvertently invalidate their car insurance by not telling their insurer of any modifications they make to their vehicle.

Modifications include performance or aesthetic changes to the bodywork, engine, wheels or even fitting a roof rack or tow bar.

The caution comes after an insurance company threatened to void a Welsh vicar’s car insurance policy when she tried to claim, as she had not told her insurer that she had adorned her car with religious stickers.

Switching site has urged that all modifications, including those made to the original specification on new cars, should be declared to insurers. Failure to do so could leave drivers out of pocket as the majority of insurers would not pay out for damage or loss of undisclosed altered parts.

Analysis of car insurance quotes by the comparison site has revealed that only 2% of drivers declared that their car had some kind of modification – that means that just over half a million cars on UK roads have been modified in some way, which includes everything from a new sound system to a tow bar.

Modifications are defined as any changes to a car that are not as standard – so, any changes that have been made to the car since it left the factory or car showroom.

By law, vehicle keepers must tell the DVLA about changes such as colour, engine number, chassis, monocoque body shell and model description. There is no legal requirement to declare changes to the gearbox, suspension, or cosmetic additions such as trims, spoilers and tow bars, as well as other electronic modifications to the DVLA but insurers will want to know about any of the changes above, plus any other non-standard additions or alterations.

According to data, the ten most popular modifications are:

Gocompare research

Stickers, or decals, accounted for 1.6% of modifications declared by customers, while only 0.5% said they had a roof rack.

Matt Oliver,’s car insurance spokesperson, said: “Insurers don’t just class body kits, exhaust systems or suspension changes as vehicle modifications.  In reality, the average new car buyer, changing their vehicle from the factory specification – opting for alloy wheels, a satellite navigation system or leather upholstery – could get caught out.

“When calculating the cost of car insurance, providers take into account many factors.  Any add-ons or modifications to your car – even aesthetic changes such as specialist paintwork or decals – will affect the cost of replacing your vehicle should it be damaged or stolen.”

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