7th March 2016
Modifying your car could send your insurance premiums soaring new research from MoneySuperMarket has warned.
The comparison site’s analysis of 2.3m insurance quotes for modified vehicles found that adding performance-enhancing and aesthetic features have the biggest impact on costs. In addition, it you fail to inform your insurer after you alter your motor, you may invalidate your policy.
The study found that fitting a turbo engine could boost premiums by up to 132% – with the average premium more than doubling from £494 to £1,146. Additionally, drivers could see their premiums inflate by up to 66% if they change their car’s bodywork by adding a bonnet bulge, flared wings or wheel arches.
Other modifications that cause significant hikes include:
Drivers looking to change the physical appearance of their car by having paintwork done or adding ‘stripes, decals or badges’ will see premiums rise by up to 36% and 22% respectively.
However, some modifications tend to push premiums down. Adding parking sensors will see average prices fall by 13% and installing a tow bar, typically meaning slower driving will see premiums reduced by 20% on average.
The most popular car modifications are:
Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Modifications can be a great way to personalise a car and in some instances will improve performance, but can quickly bump up the cost of your car insurance. Insurance is based on risk, and modifying your car is a warning sign to insurers.
“For example, spoilers or turbo engines will mean a vehicle goes faster, and therefore increase the likelihood of an accident, while car phones and sat-navs are attractive to opportunistic thieves, so insurers balance the scales by pushing premiums up.”
Female drivers are more likely to opt for functionality improvements, while male drivers are fonder of aesthetic and performance-enhancing modifications. Men are six times more likely to install a turbo engine, or add ‘uprated’ brakes. Women on the other hand, are 44% more inclined to choose parking sensors.
Pratt continued: “For some, modifications are an addictive hobby, but the most important thing to remember is to inform your insurer of any changes, preferably before you make them, so you can find out the impact on your insurance. You certainly shouldn’t wait until it’s time to renew your policy.
“When you change anything about your car, you change the original specification which may invalidate your policy if you don’t inform your insurer. Reporting the changes might mean a higher premium, but having an invalid policy is considered fraudulent and could reduce or even remove the prospect of a pay-out if you had to make a claim.”