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Modified car insurance

Is your car modified? Compare car insurance quotes and get the right cover for your upgrades and enhancements

If your car’s changed since it came off the production line, it’s modified

If your car’s been altered to look, feel, or drive differently from the manufacturer’s standard, it’s classed as a modified car.

That even goes for manufacturer-branded accessories fitted to your car when it was brand new. Additions like a roof rack or tow bar could also be classed as modifications by your insurer.

Find car insurance with a provider that caters for modifications and won’t overcharge you.

Types of car modification

Engine, exhaust, suspension and changes to the breaks are all modifications, but your insurer will want to know about tweaks to the entertainment system and a new roofrack too

  1. Customising your car's bodywork will be classed as a modification by insurers. There are many parts of a car that can be replaced with sporty, aftermarket options, like spoilers, body kits and canards

  2. Changes to your cars brakes and suspension alters how the car handles. Lowering your car with new springs can make it more difficult to handle, but better brakes could make the car safer

  3. Visual changes are the most common modifications, ranging from alloys and tinted windows to full vinyl wraps or paint jobs. Wrapping headlights and taillights in smoked tint is illegal if it obscures the light

  4. Any changes to the engine can seriously effect the performance and reliability of your car. Engine changes include air filters and intakes, exhausts systems and alterations to the EMS

  5. Tow bars, roof racks and security immobilisers

  6. New audio or entertainment systems and upgrades

Spoilers, alloy wheels and exhausts don’t make the car any more or less powerful, and a modified insurance specialist might be more understanding of this than a company which deals mainly with standard cars
Matt Oliver - Motoring expert at GoCompare

What does modified car insurance cover?

Modified car insurance gives you the same cover as standard policies, but also covers the extra parts you’ve put in to your car.

You’ll still have options to choose from, like breakdown cover, courtesy car and windscreen cover, but you can also agree the value of your car with the provider if its market value won’t cover the value of the modifications.

There are some modifications which are illegal and will not be covered under your car insurance. For example, the front windscreen must let in at least 75% of light if it was first used on 1 April 1985 or later. Neon lights and stretched tyres also won’t be covered.

The real value of a modified car

Car modifications cost a lot of time money and could increasing the value of your car beyond what you paid for it, or it’s market value. You can talk to the insurer about agreed-value and salvage retention to protect your investments.

  • Agreed-value policies

    An agreed value policy recognises the time and money spent on a modified vehicle. You set the value of your car with the insurer and they’ll pay out that amount if your car’s a total loss, regardless of its market value. These tend to be more expensive than standard car insurance policies.

  • Salvage retention

    If repairing your vehicle would cost more than replacing it, your insurer will write it off. Some insurers will offer salvage retention, which lets you buy it back to save it from being scrapped.

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Why do modifications affect car insurance?

Run of the mill add-ons like a tow bar or roof rack are straightforward to insurers - just declare them when you get a quote. It might not even cost any extra.

But if you’re a car hobbyist or enthusiast, your heavily modified vehicle can be much more difficult and expensive to insure.

Upgrading your car’s appearance, performance, handling or function means that mainstream insurers can classify it as a greater risk and charge more for your cover.

Expensive additions make it more appealing to thieves so there’s a higher risk of it being stolen. Performance enhancements can change the handling so insurers might deem you to be at greater risk of being in an accident.

But a specialist car insurer recognises that owners and enthusiasts have spent a lot of time and money modifying their car and are likely to look after it.

Comprehensive insurance for cars with modifications is more expensive for younger drivers. For policyholders between 17-21 years old, the average cost is £1,263. but for policyholders over 50, it costs significantly less, at just £312.[2]

Compare quotes from standard insurers and specialists to see who can give you a more competitive deal.

Most enthusiasts have put lots of time, effort and money into their cars. The more money they've spent on their car, the more likely they are to be careful with it

Dan Clark from specialist insurance broker Adrian Flux

The most expensive car modifications to insure

Certain enhancements are riskier and are highly likely to increase your premium:

  • A re-engineered engine for fast and powerful performance
  • Lowering the suspension - it can make a car handle and corner better, but it can get in the way of important car systems, such as anti-lock brakes
  • Expensive wheel alloys - if they get damaged, they’re more expensive to replace than the factory standard

On the other hand, some modifications can actually reduce your premiums because they improve safety, such as parking sensors or cameras.

Cut the cost of modified car insurance

You can save money on your car insurance, even if your car’s modified:

  1. Low mileage and keeping it safe in a garage or on a driveway overnight can help to bring your quote down

  2. If you pay annually, you’ll avoid paying interest on direct debit payments

  3. If you’re an inexperienced driver, adding a second driver with a safe driving history will sometimes reduce the cost – but only do this if the other person genuinely does drive your car

  4. Consider a telematics policy. Premiums are based on how safely you drive, so if you drive your modified car carefully that might reduce the cost

Frequently asked questions

  • I’m a young driver - will I be charged more for modified car insurance?

    If you’re a young driver, your premiums will probably be higher than those aged over 25, and adding modifications usually makes premiums even more expensive.

    Young drivers are statistically more likely to claim on their insurance so insurers take this into account too when issuing a quote for modified car insurance.

  • What if my car already had modifications when I bought it?

    If the modifications are on a new car bought direct from the dealer, these modifications won’t add much to your insurance costs because they were fitted by the manufacturer. Though it’s always worth comparing insurance quotes before you buy a new car, that way you can see how certain modifications could affect the premium.

    If you’re looking to buy a second-hand car that differs from factory standard, make sure you’re aware of the all the modifications before you buy it, so you can declare them to your insurer.

  • Can you make modifications mid-policy?

    If you already have an insurance policy in place and modify your vehicle, you must inform your insurer - don’t wait until you renew your policy.

    If you haven’t declared a modification when taking out a policy, you risk invalidating your cover.

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If you don’t declare all modifications, you could invalidate your policy and might not be covered

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Car insurance guides

[2]For all comprehensive car insurance policies bought through GoCompare in June 2019

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