Car Modifications and Insurance: How Pricey Will It Be to Insure Your Customized Ride?


You've souped up your deuce coupe, but you might be worried about insurance. No need: We'll help you sort it out.

car modifications & insurance overlap when it comes to wheels

Pimped out your ride? Find the right car insurance to protect your swag →

We know your precious car is just like a snowflake: beautiful and singular—or at least it is now, thanks to all the sleek mods you’ve shelled out for. Modifications today run the gamut—you can install a DVD entertainment system for your bored passengers, in-vehicle Bluetooth to keep you in touch with the outside world, or a back-up camera to keep you safe. (And that’s not even mentioning the crazy things happening with stereos these days.) But what happens with car modifications & insurance rates? If you trick out your car, Xzibit-style, do you run the risk of skyrocketing insurance rates?

Get in Touch with Your Insurer So You Can Understand Your Car Modifications & Insurance

As usual, your first best step is to communicate with your agent about how modifications might affect your insurance policy. Esurance, for example, offers up to $4,000 of customized parts and equipment coverage to pay for damage to or replacement of any of the following, according to their blog:

  • Stereo, sound reproducing, sound recording, and television equipment
  • Radios, citizens band radios, and scanners
  • Personal computers, Internet access, and navigation systems
  • Telephones, televisions, and video entertainment systems
  • Body, engine, exhaust, or suspension enhancers
  • Winches, anti-roll, or anti-sway bars
  • Custom grilles, louvers, side pipes, hood scoops, or spoilers
  • Custom wheels, tires, or spinners
  • Custom chrome and paint
  • Special carpeting or insulation
  • Furniture or bars
  • Height-extending roofs
  • Custom murals, paintings, or other decals or graphics

But you’ll want to be sure your insurance company knows about your modifications before anything happens. “If you were to make modifications to your vehicle you would want to inform your insurance company if you wanted them adequately protected,” explains The Zebra licensed insurance agent Jacob Unger. “For example, if you got $5,000 rims and new stereo system worth $3,000 you would want to make sure you got $8,000 worth of accessory coverage. If your car was stolen or damaged those extra parts would not be covered under your typical comprehensive and collision coverage. You need to make sure those extra accessories are accounted for with your insurance company if you want them covered.”

Some accessories may not be covered by your insurance if they are stolen.

Ask What Isn’t Covered, Too

Before you invest last month’s paycheck in a new custom grille, you might want to make sure it will actually be covered. Some modifications just won’t cut it. For example, if you slip a sweet subwoofer into your trunk but don’t bolt it in, you might be in trouble: “If you had sub-woofers in your back seat or trunk and they were not screwed in or permanently attached to the car they may not be covered if they were stolen,” Unger says. “If you just had them laying there in the trunk or back seat it would make them to easy to steal and technically not part of the vehicle, so they probably won’t be covered, as opposed to if somebody broke the nuts and bolts off to steal them from your car.”

In general, explains The Zebra licensed insurance agent Jonathan Wagner, you want to establish what valuables you have up-front: “Each insurer will have their own policies governing how they cover “additional equipment”,” Wagner says. “You just want to ensure you have disclosed what type of custom equipment you have and the value of it.”

Super Fancy-Pants? Consider Collector Car Insurance

If you’ve modified your car to the point that it’s extremely valuable, you can also consider insuring it through a collector car insurance company like Hagerty or Grundy. You might not think of a modified-ride when you hear the word “collector,” but then again, if you’ve sunk thousands of dollars into making that Honda Accord really sing on the road, why not take good care of it, too?