Motorists warned about uninsured modifications

Gocompare.com Car Insurance is warning drivers not to inadvertently invalidate their car insurance by not advising their insurer of any modifications they make to their vehicle. Modifications include performance or aesthetic changes to the bodywork, engine, wheels – even fitting a roof rack or tow bar.

The warning 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.

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 Gocompare.com has revealed that only two per cent 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 any changes to a car that aren’t 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 Gocompare.com data, the ten most popular modifications are:
Top 10 Modifications    Percentage of modified cars
1    Alloy wheels (non-standard & optional extras)    21.4%
2    Suspension changes    8.5%
3    Exhaust system changes    7.2%
4    Tinted windows    6.0%
5    Tow bar    4.7%
6    Air filters    4.3%
7    Parking sensors    4.1%
8    Complete bodykit    2.9%
9    LPG conversion    2.7%
10    Chipped/engine management system    2.5%

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

Matt Oliver, Gocompare.com’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.

‘Different insurers have different views on what constitutes a modification – so it’s always wise to tell your insurer of changes or additions you make to your vehicle at the time of making them. Otherwise you could find yourself in the situation of having a claim rejected and possibly your car insurance declared void – that could affect your ability to be insured full stop, and not only for car insurance.

‘Shop around and look for the best deal that suits you and your car, stickers, alloys, spoilers and all, and if in doubt over any modification speak to your insurance provider.’