What are car modifications and do they affect my insurance?

Check out AXA’s guide to the long-term costs and implications of making modifications to your car.

Car insurance policies

20 January 2023

We understand your desire to upgrade your car. When you’re thinking about your next big upgrade, think about how it might affect your car insurance. Not sure how modifications affect your policy? Don’t worry; AXA is here to help you understand.

What is a car modification?

Car modifications cover a range of things. Anything that was not originally in the vehicle when manufactured is a modification and must be disclosed to your insurer. This includes any changes that were made by a previous owner. If you’re not sure if any changes were made before you got the car, it’s best to check with the previous owner. Aesthetic changes include things such as changing the body paint colour. Additionally, there are modifications that can affect how your vehicle performs. So, you need to declare any modifications to your insurer, even the aesthetic ones.

What modifications will affect my car insurance?

Almost all modifications will affect your insurance, no matter what type or what size, with most likely to result in your policy being cancelled. The changes most likely to lead to an insurer not quoting for your vehicle are:

  • Turbo/supercharging - used to increase power, fuel economy, or both
  • Transmission or gear change – handle more engine power and improve your level of performance and average peak power
  • Complete body kit – change the look of your car completely
  • Wheel arches – wide wheel arches enable the fitting of wider or bigger grippier tyres
  • Roll Bars – help with the stability of the vehicle
  • Roll cages – to protect the occupants in the event of the vehicle rolling
  • Uprated brakes – maximum braking performance
  • Replacement of seats – gives a racing-style interior and changes the weight and handling of your car
  • Some exhaust changes – some exhaust system upgrades mean more power, as well as increasing how loud they are or silencing them altogether

Are there any car modifications that don’t affect my insurance?

Here’s the details of car modifications that we do cover:

  • Additional security (alarms, immobilisers, trackers)
  • Audio systems less than £1,000 in value
  • Dashcam
  • Legally tinted windows
  • Manufacturer optional extras (including tinted glass) fitted by the manufacturer or approved dealer at the time of original purchase
  • Modifications solely due to a disability (for the policyholder or one of the drivers on the policy)
  • Professional conversion to LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas)
  • Reversing/parking sensors
  • Roof racks, roof bars, bike racks, and top boxes
  • Stainless steel exhaust
  • Tow bar
  • Alloy wheels less than £1,000 in value

Many of these modifications, such as roof racks, tow bars & alloys don’t reduce the chance of accidents, but they also don’t increase the possibility of accidents in the way that upgrading performance or transmission does.

Do I have to declare modifications to my insurer?

In a word: yes. If you don’t tell us about any modifications, your policy will be declared void and any claims that you may have made will not be paid out. So, you must let us know before you get any modifications done, so we can assess them and take any necessary action.

What happens if I don’t declare modifications to my insurer?

Not declaring modifications to your insurer – even if it’s accidental – is usually considered fraud. This will result in your policy being declared void, and any claims you may have made will not be paid. Additionally, if your insurer has to pay a claim made against you by a third party, they have the right to recover these costs from you. Voided policies are also updated on a national database, which may make it more difficult to get insurance in the future. Don’t risk it; declare your modifications in plenty of time, so we can be here for you when you need us.

AXA Car Insurance is here for you

AXA is here to protect you and your car so you can go about your day without having to worry. With AXA Car Insurance, we’ve got your back. Get in touch to see how we can help you, and always check your policy details to see if you’re covered.