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Motorists with modified vehicles can have a difficult time finding full coverage insurance policies. This is because a lot of insurers simply group all modified cars into the street racer category and assume these cars will have turbochargers and nitrous oxide systems in order to participate in street races. While there is, without a doubt, a large segment of motorists who modify their vehicles for this specific purpose, there are others who simply have a hobby of restoring and improving cars without the intent of ever racing them, or otherwise using them in risky scenarios where there is a high chance of causing an accident.
What is a Modification?
The first thing to understand is what an insurance provider considers a modification. Luckily it’s definition is simple. It is any change that is made to the car after it has left the factory. In other words, anything from a new exhaust system to a new engine to a new set of rims is considered a modification. Whenever such a modification is made, it will have an effect on the monthly premiums you have to pay. Therefore, you might wonder why you should bother mentioning this to your insurer at all, especially if it is something trivial such as a new stereo system.
Why You Should Inform them?
The reason you should inform your insurance company of all modifications is that when you need them most is when they will discover your undocumented modifications. In other words, if you get involved into an accident and need to file a claim, when they inspect your car’s damages they will discover that the car is not as how it is described on the policy. In this case, they might fine you and refuse to pay out for any claim until you cover the extra premiums. If the changes are extensive enough, they might even invalidate your policy and drop you as a client altogether. Yes, they can do this based on the contract you signed with them.
Where to Find Insurance?
If you have a modified car, there are two ways to insure it. First, you can get additional coverage for customized parts and equipment. This is an extra form of insurance that is meant to cover costs of repairing or replacing modified parts after an accident. It is good for most types of modifications you can make to a car, including media equipment such as a stereo, TV or video game console; engine, body and exhaust modifications; anti-roll bars, winches, custom body work such as grilles or spoilers, custom paint jobs, rims, tires etc. It will cover most of the changes, but this kind of additional coverage is only good for a few thousand dollars, so it will not cover investments in a vehicle that has been heavily modified.
In this situation, the best alternative would be to get special collector car insurance. This is harder to find as it is a specialized service and not all providers will offer it, but it can be done. There is no set definition for what constitutes a classic car. It does not really have to be old, so finding full coverage for your modified vehicle should not be a problem. However, extent of use is the factor that matters most in these situations since collector cars are not meant to be used on a regular basis. If you plan on using your collector car to go to work every day, you will face steep rates.
It should be noted that not all modifications have a negative impact on your insurance policy. In fact, safety modifications have quite the opposite. Everything you do to make your car safer will lower your premiums. However, you must be sure to let your provider know once you do it and to use an approved specialist to do the modifications.