Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Apr 3, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Non-standard vehicle modifications can affect your auto insurance rates
  • High-performance engines, exhausts, and turbochargers can increase your monthly premiums
  • Safety feature modifications may help lower your monthly premiums by making your car safer to drive in the eyes of your insurance company
  • Appearance-related modifications may increase your vehicle’s chance of getting stolen
  • A comparison tool can help you find modified auto insurance policies that both meet the needs of your enhanced vehicle and your monthly financial budget

Car enthusiasts often make modifications to their cars to improve their performance, give them a custom look, or just make the riding better.

Are you a car aficionado who has made extensive modifications to your vehicle, or do you own a classic car, hot rod or street racer?

If you own any of these types of vehicles or have made modifications to your dealer-purchased vehicle, you may need to report those changes and your vehicle to your auto insurance carrier.

Certain vehicle modifications may require changes to your insurance policy, including the addition of a new higher horsepower engine, new safety features or changes in your car’s external appearance.

A customized car may be great, but you may run into some issues with your auto insurance.

If you do not report the modifications to your vehicle, you may be liable for any injuries or damage caused by your car or truck if you are in an accident.

Depending on your vehicle’s modifications and enhancements, you may even need a specific insurance policy, called modified car insurance.

This special coverage will cover the aftermarket parts and upgrades added to personalize your ride. You can ask your insurance agent if your current insurance policy covers the upgrade to your car or whether you need modified car insurance coverage.

Know that your standard auto insurance policy won’t cover modifications such as custom rims, or an enhanced stereo system.

Thankfully, you can search for insurance for a modified car by using our FREE comparison tool and entering your zip code above.

What’s a modified car?

A modified car is a vehicle that’s been customized with unique bodywork, functional upgrades, or improved performance. If you modify your car in any way, you should contact your insurance representative and tell them about these updates. This way they can appropriately adapt your standard auto policy to include the improvements.

A vehicle modification is handled differently by auto insurance companies. That’s why it’s a good idea to discuss potential upgrades with your insurance company so that they can advise you if your current policy covers the changes or you need to have additional coverage.

But if you’ve spent even a small amount of money on modifying your vehicle, you should purchase car insurance for modified cars.

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How to modify your car to enhance its performance


Performance modifications include increasing the size or horsepower of your car’s engine and adding upscale exhaust systems, turbochargers, and nitrous oxide injector systems as well as high-performance tires.

These types of modifications will make your car drive faster and perform better, but they are not considered advantages in your car insurer’s eyes.

Depending on the size of the engine you install and your other performance modifications, your car may get reclassified as a sports car, which means you will pay higher insurance premiums.

People who own sports cars are considered more of an accident risk, and your car will be more expensive to repair or replace if it is involved in an accident.

If you fail to report these types of modifications to your insurance company, and you get into a car accident, you insurance carrier may refuse to pay, leaving you liable for 100 percent of the car accident incurred expenses for both you and the other driver.

  • Adding a larger engine with more horsepower
  • Upgrading your car’s exhaust with a high-performance exhaust
  • Installing high-performance rims and tires
  • Suspension modifications

What does changing the appearance of your car mean to insurance companies?

For insurance companies, changing the appearance of your car means more than just changing the paint color. Appearance modifications include high-dollar or luxury rims, custom detail packages, new spoilers, tinted rear windows, and added exterior lighting.

External, appearance-related modifications may make your car more attractive to car thieves. If you make these modifications without telling your insurance company and your car is stolen, your claim may be denied.

  • Alloy or rims manufactured from precious metals
  • Custom trim kits or full car modification kits
  • Professionally tinted windows
  • High-performance rear spoilers
  • Custom paint with intricate details

Will adding entertainment modifications affect the insurance cost?


New car technology means that it has never been easier to add TVs, DVD players, GPS systems, Bluetooth, and enhanced sound and stereo systems. These entertainment systems mean that your passengers can enjoy movies and other amenities on long car trips.

Unfortunately, an insurance provider looks at these enhancements as driver distractions, which could raise your premium. If you fail to disclose these modifications for fear of a higher premium, your insurance claim could be refused if you get into a car accident.

  • Passenger and rear seat TVs and DVD players
  • High-end sound systems with large or luxury speakers
  • Bluetooth or other wireless systems
  • High-end radios and MP3 players
  • Phone and portable device charging stations

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How to improve your car’s safety features

You can decrease your car insurance premium by adding certain car safety features. The last few years have seen incredible advancements in vehicle safety technology, including rear view cameras, object warning systems, and GPS tracking systems.

  • Rear and side-view cameras that display images inside the car
  • Pedestrian or object warning systems
  • Auto-braking systems
  • GPS tracking systems like On-Star or wireless location devices
  • Enhanced Car Alarms and anti-theft devices

Can modifications for disabilities affect car insurance rates?


Individuals with certain disabilities may need car modifications to drive safely or at all. Unfortunately, some of these modifications can affect the individual’s insurance rates, and while insurance companies are prohibited from raising a driver’s rates due to a disability, they may use a loophole in the law to do it regardless.

The loophole that insurance companies use states that aftermarket modifications increase the value of the car, so the insurance company would have to pay more to repair or replace the vehicle if it were in an accident.

Disability modifications include wheelchair ramps and lifts, changes to the accelerator and brake pedals, and the addition of hand controls and pedal extenders.

Make sure you have the right coverage for your modified vehicle. Enter your zip code into our FREE comparison tool to get started!