Car mods ramp up insurance rates

alloy wheelsYour car insurance premium could rocket if you tinker with your vehicle, with premiums rising by as much as 66% for simple changes such as adding alloy wheels.

But you risk invalidating you cover if you fail to inform you insurer of changes despite the fact that honesty mean premium rises, warns

All mod cons

The comparison website found making common modifications to your car can increase the cost of your insurance premium.

For example, if a 30 year old male added alloy wheels to his Ford Fiesta he could expect to see a 30% increase to his premium. Similarly, if a car phone was added, the cost would increase by 50%.

If it was "pimped up" with a complete body kit, the same male motorist could expect to see a 66% increase, with annual premiums as high as £900 on average.

Express yourself

Pete Harrison, car insurance expert at MoneySupermarket, said: "Cars are used by many as a way to express themselves, and for some people, modifications are an essential part of personalising their vehicle.

"Motorists need to be aware that even the smallest of modifications can impact the price of car insurance. It pays to contact your insurer before you go ahead and make any modifications, as you will need to decide whether the extra cost to cover the changes is worth paying.

"Some insurers won't offer insurance to cars that have already been modified, so it's crucial to check with your provider first. More importantly, drivers need to realise that not informing an insurer of modifications made to a vehicle can invalidate a policy - a mistake motorists can't afford to make."

Wheels of fortune

Analysis of MoneySupermarket car insurance data found that alloy wheels accounted for nearly half (43%) of all modifications made to cars. A further 11% of motorists have opted for tinted windows and 9% have widened the wheels or trims of their car.

Out of the modifications made, older drivers (over 65s) were most likely to add a tow bar to their vehicle (29%), closely followed by one in five (20%) modifying their car with parking sensors. Parking sensors were the most popular choice with female drivers (12%), compared to only 8% of men making this alteration to their cars.

Harrison said: "It is a myth that car modifications are only made by 'boy racers'; many people alter their cars for very practical reasons such as adding parking sensors or tow bars.

"Modifications don't have to break the bank where insurance premiums are concerned, and those looking to streamline or tweak their cars should scour the market to ensure they are not paying over the odds."

And the difference for modifications shows how each insurer views the associated risks differently and prices accordingly.

The average of the top ten insurance premiums is £536.10. But the average of the top ten premiums for a vehicle with a car phone, is £807.65, making a difference of £271.55, or an increase of 50.65%. For a vehicle with alloy wheels, that is £701.26, making a difference of £165.16, or 30.8%. For a vehicle with a complete body kit it is £892.39, making difference of £356.29, or 66.45%.

Annual Premium with car phone

  • AXA £431.90
  • More Than £701.83
  • Broker King £786.72
  • e choice £802.78
  • Performance Direct £837.35
  • Insure Your Motor £841.72
  • Endsleigh £845.33
  • Aim £921.94
  • Flux Direct £953.41
  • The Co-operative £953.51
  • Average £807.65

Annual Premium with alloy wheels

  • AXA £431.90
  • Flux Direct £584.90
  • Admiral £696.42
  • £699.60
  • More Than £705.41
  • Diamond £705.96
  • Bell £763.20
  • Broker King £786.72
  • e choice £796.81
  • Insure Your Motor £841.72
  • Average £701.26

Annual Premium with complete body kit

  • Flux Direct £640.39
  • Admiral £703.84
  • £707.02
  • Diamond £713.38
  • Bell £771.68
  • Broker King £786.72
  • Insure Your Motor £841.72
  • Performance Direct £962.95
  • Post Office £1,328.19
  • HSBC £1,468.00
  • Average £892.39
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