How modifying your car could invalidate your insurance.

You’ve passed your test, you’ve bought your car and now you want to give your pride and joy a little update, maybe make it a bit more sporty, put a couple of stickers on to support your football team, association or hobby you have. What harm can it do?!

Well you could be invalidating that already very expensive insurance you have if you are involved in an accident.

We define a modification as any kind of alteration to a vehicle that wasn’t in the manufacturer’s standard specification or wasn’t fitted as an option when the vehicle was manufactured. It could range from a cosmetic change – such as alloy wheels or body kits – to more practical enhancements, such as dual control or parking sensors. Basically, anything what was not part of the vehicle when it left the forecourt. So even if you bought it with the modifications all done you still need to tell the insurance company, simply saying it was there when I bought it won’t be enough.

Sadly these days any fancy extras on a car, even factory fitted ones make the vehicle more attractive to thieves and therefore will increase the cost of your insurance but not admitting to them could mean that if you are involved in an accident, or your car is criminally damaged then you could find yourself not covered by your insurance.

And with regards to those stickers, well a recent study by Auto Express and British Insurers Brokers Association has shown that cars with stickers are more likely to be targeted and incur criminal damage because the sticker could antagonise and be seen as a political statement. Adding a sticker could be a modification on the car and could, in the eyes of the insurance company increase the risk of damage or theft and therefore invalidate your policy if you don’t tell them.  They say drivers should keep their opinions to themselves in fear of causing damage to a car from people who do not agree with their tastes.

And If you do chose to put stickers on your vehicle then make sure you are careful where you put them as they could also cause you to be slapped with an on the spot fine for £100 and 3 points on your licence if the police deem the sticker to be distracting.  The Highway Code says car windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision. A vehicle could also fail its annual MOT test if it is believed something in the windscreen is causing a driver to be distracted behind the wheel.

So, the answer is be honest. Some modifications won’t increase your premiums for example tow bars, parking sensors and winter tyres as these are all seen as beneficial to safety but many other modifications could lead you to be in serious trouble if you don’t inform the correct people.

Stay safe, Drive Carefully!