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Auto insurance for modified cars
Modifications give you the chance to stamp your personality onto your vehicle. You can increase your car's performance, make it stand out in a crowd, or simply improve its overall functionality. Most importantly, you can make it yours.
However, modifying your vehicle can have a big impact on your auto insurance coverage and rates. As such, it’s vital that you keep your insurance company informed of any changes you make to your vehicle. Doing so can help you avoid running a situation in which your modifications go uninsured.
What is a modified vehicle?
Any changes from original factory specifications are considered modifications. Usually, these changes are made to improve functionality, performance, or general aesthetics. Some of the more common modifications could include the following:
- Stereo systems
- Carpeting or insulation
- Custom wheels
- Custom paint jobs
- Custom grilles
- Changes to the body, engine, exhaust, or suspension
- Anti-roll or anti-sway bars
Will vehicle modifications raise my car insurance rates?
In most cases, yes. Anything added to your car policy is likely to raise the cost of your premium. Your initial car insurance policy was likely put together using the manufacturer’s factory specifications. Potential repair costs will be more specific for a modified vehicle, as the parts are more unique and, oftentimes, more expensive.
Insurance companies have concluded that drivers who make modifications to their vehicles are more likely to file a claim. There are some obvious reasons for this. The first is that the addition of high-cost equipment and modifications can often increase the likelihood of theft. Cars that stand out as highly modified can be more attractive to thieves.
Secondly, by increasing the performance of your vehicle, you can also increase the potential for an accident. It is assumed that if you put in a high-performance engine that you plan to use it, which means you might travel at higher speeds. The same goes for larger tires, which can actually decrease safety.
Why do I need modified car insurance?
If you want your modifications covered in the event of an accident, modified car insurance is vital. Should you be in an accident without informing your insurance company of your vehicle's modifications, they simply won’t be covered. Worse yet, by withholding this information, you run the risk of invalidating your policy altogether. This could lead to you being personally liable for damages in the event of an at-fault accident.
Having these changes noted and properly insured can save you money in the long run. Make sure you obtain a copy of your notice of modification to have on hand in the event of a claim.
Modifications for mobility
Some modifications are purely functional. These modifications allow people with disabilities to drive or ride in a vehicle that takes their needs into account. Some of the more common mobility modifications include:
- Amputee rings
- Steering cuffs
- Modified-effort steering
- Pedal extenders
- Left-foot accelerator
- Push-pull hand controls
- Floor-mounted steering
- Wheelchair/scooter lifts and ramps
- Siren detectors for the hearing impaired
- Wheelchair-adjustable seats and seat belts
Most insurance providers don’t distinguish between the various types of modifications available. They’ll treat your vehicle the same whether you’ve tweaked your engine for an added boost in performance or added a wheelchair ramp to a van. An insurance company cannot refuse to insure a driver due to a disability. While disabled drivers are not technically supposed to have to pay higher rates for insurance, companies can charge more if the vehicle is highly modified.
For more information, see our in-depth article related to car insurance for disabilities.
What if I buy a car that has already been modified?
If you purchase a vehicle that has already undergone modifications, it’s important that you inform your insurance company at the outset. Insurance companies don’t automatically assume that modifications have been made to a vehicle, and figure rates with the factory equipment in mind.
Before you purchase such a car, it’s worth noting that an insurance company may be more hesitant to cover you, or simply flat-out refuse to insure cars with modifications.
Modifications not covered by auto insurance
There are certain modifications that many car insurance companies may not cover. Accessories that are not permanently attached to your vehicle may not be covered. For instance, subwoofers that aren’t screwed in and are stolen — because they aren’t technically a part of the car — aren’t likely to be covered.
Cheap modified car insurance: how to find it
Not all modifications lead to an increase in rates. If you’re looking for cheap modified car insurance, there are some additions you can make that could actually decrease your premiums. Modifications that could help you save money are typically those that lead to improved safety or security.
These include the following:
- Seat belts
- Rearview cameras
- Anti-theft devices
- Accident sensors
- Blindspot detectors
However, it’s always best to check with your insurance company before making such changes. Otherwise, it may be worth seeing if your car insurance company offers other discounts for things such as telematics, paying the full premium upfront, or discounts for keeping a clean driving record.
Best car insurance companies for modified vehicles
Many of the top insurance carriers offer some form of modified car insurance. Some companies, on the other hand, specialize in it. The following carriers are some of the most common providers of insurance for modified vehicles.
Esurance, for example, offers up to $4,000 specifically for customized parts and equipment. If you’ve sunk thousands of dollars into customizing your vehicle, it might be worth considering collector car insurance companies like Hagerty or Grundy, which specialize in covering classic and modified cars.
Hagerty considers your vehicle to be modified if you have made significant updates to its performance, made structural changes to the frame, body, or chassis, or included a customized paint job that is worth $10,000 or more.
Because many heavily modified vehicles don’t depreciate in the same way as standard cars, some companies, such as Nationwide, Hagerty, and Grundy offer an agreed value policy. This means that, if your car is deemed a total loss due to an accident or another occurrence, you will be paid a previously agreed-upon sum. These policies can have expensive premiums, so they are often recommended only for vehicles of high value.
Things to consider when looking for modified car insurance
Having the chance to put a personal stamp on your vehicle is important to many people, especially if those modifications offer accessibility. Whether you are modifying your car out of necessity, for performance, or for aesthetic reasons, it’s always important to take into account how it will affect your insurance coverage.
Also speak to your insurance company about your modifications, whether you’re outfitting a Honda Civic with a turbocharger or adapting a Dodge Caravan to accommodate a wheelchair. They can advise you on the likely impact those changes will have on your coverage and premiums. It’s always a good idea to shop around when searching for insurance. You never know who will give you the best deal until you compare. Give us a call or enter your ZIP code below to get started.
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About The Zebra
The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.
- The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
- The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
- The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
- The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.