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Are modifications always a bad thing for your car insurance?

There has long been a certain school of thought that pretty much any car modification, undertaken for pretty much any reason – to improve appearance, performance, in-car entertainment, you name it – is more-or-less guaranteed to send your premiums shooting sky-high.

Nor can we really blame people for perceiving this to be the case, especially given that – if we’re being absolutely honest – much of this perception is rooted in truth.

You might have done some cursory research on this subject yourself, and encountered articles like this one on the This is Money website, with its scary headline: “How pimping your ride will pummel your premiums: Ten car modifications that will see insurance costs soar”.

And of course, the research findings detailed in that article won’t do a huge amount to reassure you about the insurance implications of modifying your vehicle. “Could fitting a turbo engine to my car seriously add 132% to my premiums?!!”, you might reasonably (and incredulously) ask.

So, it’s probably inevitable that modifying your car will make your premiums go up… right?

Unfortunately, that might well be the case for a lot of people who have alterations made to their vehicles. After all, the aforementioned This is Money article also cites changing a car’s bodywork (66% increase), transmission or gearing changes (63% increase) and uprated brakes (36% increase) among the modifications that can cause premiums to spiral upwards.

close-up-photography-of-vehicle-wheel-and-hankook-tire

If we turn to other well-placed experts – the modified car insurance specialists at MoneyBeach – they, too, give sober warnings about the scope for modifications to significantly add to the cost of cover. They point to the fact that modified cars don’t neatly fall into any of the 50 ABI groups that insurers use to rate vehicles, as well as the greater likelihood – according to the statistics – of performance modified vehicles being involved in an accident.

These are just some of the factors that make insurers jittery about covering modified cars, which sadly helps to make high insurance costs for such vehicles rather unsurprising.

There is, however, some reason for hope

One thing that might surprise you, though, is that modifying your car may not always spell bad news for your chances of affordable insurance premiums. This is partly because modifications aimed at boosting a vehicle’s security – such as immobilisers and extra locking devices – have a reputation for actually helping to lower the cost of a policy in some cases.

But before you rush out and start buying all manner of security equipment to fit to your car, we’d suggest that you talk to potential insurers beforehand, as you might only get the benefit of lower premiums in the event of certain specific types of security modification being made.

Oh, and there’s another reason to not necessarily give up hoping for affordable cover if you’re considering modifying your car, or have already done so. That’s because another way to potentially reduce the cost of your insurance is to seek out specialist modified car insurance deals from insurers and comparison services that cater for car enthusiasts and specific types of use.

Are you a member of an owners club or enthusiasts forum, for instance? If so, it’s worth investigating whether any insurers are affiliated to the club and may offer discounted rates as a result. The likes of track day, limited mileage and show car policies are also available from various specialist insurers, with their suitability naturally dependent on how you use your vehicle.

In short – don’t necessarily presume that insurance cover for your modified car will automatically be expensive. Instead, research your options and be sure to shop around, comparing the offerings of different insurers. Prepare well, and your chances of landing a truly brilliant and affordable deal for modified car cover might be stronger than you expect.

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