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 Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Non-standard vehicle modifications can affect your 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 car insurance policies that both meet the needs of your enhanced vehicle and your monthly financial budget

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.

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

Modifying Your Car by Enhancing Its Performance

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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

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Changing the Appearance of Your Car

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

Adding Entertainment Modifications

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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, insurance providers look 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 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

Improving 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

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Modifications for Disabilities

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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!