Insurance and "chipping" your car - No Do$h
I've run this thread past Mark (RLBS) to make sure I'm not treading on any toes.

I'm about to have my Alfa 156 2.4JTD chipped as it's one of the earlier ones with the lower power output and mpg.

I've read a number of threads on the subject and the one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is the insurance aspect. Time and time again I see either an enormous increase or people not declaring the modification to their insurers.

Now I have to stress something at this point. If you fail to notify the mod to your insurers and have a prang, the best that will happen is your cover will be reduced to Road Traffic Act only, which is lower than third-party only and just covers the bare requirements of the act (as the name implies). What is more likely to happen is that you will find yourself uninsured, in the clink with no car and a civil suit for losses from any third party. You will also find it VERY difficult to get cover for a sensible premium in the future.

Anyway, enough of the lecture and back to the point.

As I'm a good boy I rang to notify my insurers (who I also work for, but on the life and pensions side of the business). I was advised that the typical premium increase for any engine modifications was usually quite low. The underwriter advised that this isn't a staff-only deal and is standard for all customers.

In my specific case, there was no increase in premium to chip my 156 2.4JTD for a +21bhp / +36Nm gain (I think because it's already classed as a higher performance car, but don't quote me on that). In most instances with this company, any increase for chipping the car would be pretty low anyway.

I should add that I am leaving this employer next Friday to set up my own consultancy business and from that point on will have no vested interest in the business of the insurer. For those that are interested in getting a quote, the company is Liverpool Victoria, based in Bournemouth.

Before you all rush off to ring them, please remember that whilst they are competitive for me, they may not be for everyone. The real point of this post is to stress that anyone chipping their car MUST tell their insurers. The consequences of failing to do so would be catastrophic.

I MUST emphasise that anyone thinking of chipping their car should check for a quote *before* they make the mod as their insurer (or even mine under some circumstances) may not be so understanding.

I will give some feedback on the performance and mpg change once I've had the chip in-situ for a couple of weeks.
Insurance and - Tomo.
Is there something that can be seen in the wreckage, or just a re-jigging of something that is there anyway?

Insurance and - Tomo.
Old valve (toob) man, me!
Insurance and - Dave_TD
ND - Wouldn't the fact that you're the kind of person who wants to optimise his (or her) car's performance have more bearing on your insurance premium than the actual physical act of doing so?

Tomo - it's generally changing one computer chip or module for another, maybe with a different label showing. I would be surprised if insurance companies routinely interrogate engine ECUs for signs of modification unless they were in line for a really BIG payout.
Insurance and - No Do$h
Here DTD, are you following me around the Back Room tonight?

If I wanted to optimise the performance in that way I would have gone for the 60ps upgrade!

Some insurers accept that chipping, especially of TDs, can give better drivability and MPG, depending on the driving style. They would certainly have considered loading my premium if I were chipping the car and had a poor accident or claims record, but as it stands I have clean licence and maximum no claims so the driver profile supports a different approach.

Hope you feel better soon,
Insurance and - No Do$h
It depends on the Chipping. In my case it's a bolt on box of tricks that piggy-backs the ECU. Now you MAY be able to remove it after an accident, but that assumes you can get the mangled bonnet open and do it before anyone sees you or the car gets taken to the recovery yard.

With other types of chipping the original ECU is remapped. Yet a third type involves the physical replacement of part of the ECU. In all cases it's pretty obvious what's happened and many assessors have access to the systems needed to run a quick diagnostic on the ECU.

In modern cars the ECU often records fault codes which can give clues to what happened in an accident. For example they will have an indicator to confirm airbag deployment, dufferent engine system failure (brought about by the impact) etc.

I purchased a 2nd hand ECU for my old Rover when mine failed and before it would start the car, all the old codes had to be cleared. The guy that did it said that the previous car the ECU had been in must have died a painful death, as it was showing airbag deployment, seatbelt pretensioners, ABS, Cat failure etc. He said he was surprised the ECU was still in one piece!

For this reason an assessor will often run a diagnostic (or get a garage to do so) when looking over a car and chipping will stick out like a sore thumb.

In a nutshell, it isn't worth trying to hide it!
Insurance and - martint123
Cars that are prone to chipping quite often get checked after an incident - insurance companies do as much as possible to avoid paying out. Not sure what it's like now, but chipping and the like used to bump the premium up not so much for any performance increase but as an indicator as to the 'type' of driver - wheels, stripes etc having a similar effect.
Insurance and - dave18
I've wondered for a while how the upgrade is discovered should a crash unfortunately occur. At the end of the day all that is being replaced/modified is a small microchip, right?
Insurance and - Armitage Shanks{P}
So far as I understand it the chip and its programme/contents are analysed and changes from the manufacturer's standard can be detected (see the comments above.) I have heard of cases where insurance has been held to be invalid because of something as simple as fitting alloy wheels, without informing an insurance company.
Insurance and - Tomo.
"chipping and the like used to bump the premium up not so much for any performance increase but as an indicator as to the 'type' of driver - wheels, stripes etc having a similar effect."

Interesting! So in the event of one just asking if something will bump up the premium, they might bump it up even if one decides against it? Any excuse...

(I once heard somebody say he only took TPFT because of the "invisible ink clause" - in the event of any sort of claim being made this policy becomes invalid!)

Chipped it! - No Do$h
Well the magic box of tricks arrived on Saturday morning and was fitted in a little under 10 minutes. First impressions are smoother power delivery when driven normally (torque always seemed to drop off at about 3000rpm when accelerating moderately on slip roads. Doesn't now!). Also plenty of extra power if you put the lead boots on. Pick-up at 2500rpm is incredible, although hopefully this aspect should be rarely used.

I'm hopeful, given the increase in torque, that I should see a modest improvement in MPG over the next couple of months[1]. Will let you know how things go.

[1] Assuming I keep driving it as I have and don't feel the urge to purchase a back-to-front baseball cap.
Chipped it! - J Bonington Jagworth
"..the urge to purchase a back-to-front baseball cap"

No, no! You buy an ordinary one, put it on and then rotate it through 180 degrees. Look, it says so here in the instructions...
Insurance and - cabsmanuk
Just a thought but what happens a few years down the line when the chipped car is on it?s 3rd or 4th owner who has no idea it?s been chipped. They insure it as a standard car and have an accident. What then? Do they get done for not declaring the mod even though they were unaware of it? If I were buying a car I would prefer to buy one that is standard spec so I would assume that an unscrupulous seller may want to hide a bit of the cars history.
Insurance and - No Do$h
Well, in my case I will be disconnecting the chip (it's in a box about the size of a ciggie packet) and handing it to the new owner with the instructions. It really is that simple.

Given the nature of the car (sporty-ish "lifestyle" estate), it being "chipped" is likely to be a positive selling point, so unlikely to be hidden at point of sale, but could happen.

Interesting point. I have my new insurance docs which record the car as having had an engine modification. Given the advances in the UK insurance market, I suspect that the registration number has now got a marker on it showing that it has been modified.

Anyone who works on the motor side of an insurer know anything about this issue?
Insurance and - MarkyMarkD
I don't believe that your registration number will be flagged - all the insurers are using the registration number database for is to obtain your vehicle model details and recording the fact you are insured so the police can check this.

I don't believe either that a claim will be denied IN MOST CASES because the car has been chipped; they CANNOT deny a claim for irrelevant reasons (and the Insurance Ombudsman has upheld this). If you have your car stolen, and it had undeclared alloy wheels, that is relevant because you've made the car more attractive. If you have it stolen and it was chipped, that didn't make any difference. If you crash it at high speed and you'd had it chipped ... then you are in trouble.

Just my opinion ... and I have worked in insurance.
Insurance and - No Do$h
Given the risk and the potentially low cost of advising your insurer (if you shop around), is it worth not advising your insurer? Personally, I feel full disclosure is the only appropriate route to take.
Insurance and - MarkyMarkD
I would agree except that:

(1) if you are already insured, you can't shop around until renewal. Many insurers seem to take advantage of this by imposing ridiculous additional premiums for changes of vehicle, let alone for something like chipping.

(2) if you aren't already insured, you can't shop around, because the cheapest insurer (without declaring the chip) may be many £££ cheaper than the cheapest insurer (with declaring the chip) EVEN IF the differential with the second insurer is very small.

I haven't got a chipped car (although I'd be tempted if the only diesel car we had wasn't a 1.5 Atmo AX) but I'd be hard pressed to bother declaring it.

Just my opinion and NOT advice!
Insurance and - Blue {P}
NoDosh, just a quick slightly O/T question. Do Liverpool Victoria increase your premium in any way if you have a chip in the windscreen repaired under the Fully Comp policy?

I suspect that it doesn't affect your NCB and I don't think you even have to bother declaring it in the future, but there's no way that I'm gonna have the chip fixed unless I'm certain!
Insurance and - Armitage Shanks{P}
L&V don't charge if you have the whole screen replaced - you just pay the XS of £40 in their case. I am on protected NCB with them but I am 99% sure that glass claims, chips of breakage, don't affect your NCB in any event. Why not ring them and ask?
Insurance and - Blue {P}
But if I rang them and asked, and they said that chips do affect your insurance, then I wouldn't be able to deny it! Not that I thought it was likely, I just didn't wanna risk asking them in case it did.

Anyway, the chips are on the passenger side so they don't bother me at all, I was more concerned about them spreading, then I would have to pay the £45 excess, whereas chip repairs carry no excess. :)
Insurance and - No Do$h
Sorry Blue, left LV last week and have been working 13 hour days this week starting up my own business.... :o(

You may see a small increase in premium, but it doesn't change your ncb. Same with most insurers I think.

Worth getting it done. I've lost two screens before when chips have suddenly become a crack across half the screen following a meeting with a pothole. Not too many of those around, are there!
Insurance and - No Do$h
Then it may be a good idea to get ome quotes before getting the car chipped.
Insurance and - No Do$h
Sorry, that was in reply to Marky Mark D.

just got in having left the house at 05:45 this morning... V. tired!!!
Insurance and - mark999
Just had a word with Liverpool Victoria regarding chipping my new VW Caravelle. There would be no premium increase.

Insurance and - No Do$h
Fantastic news.

So anyone out there who is driving a chipped car and haven't told their insurer, have a think about it.....

Insurance and - Colin M
I remember in the 70's a mate struggling to remove an undeclared twin choke Weber from a mangled Cortina before the loss adjuster turned up.

Insurance and - bazza
"Chipping" is no different in concept to conventional tuning with skimmed heads, twin carbs etc. When I drove tuned Minis some years back, the insurance company needed an independant engineers report to verify the modifications. The insurance premium went up by about 10%, that's all. Far better to have everything shipshape with them. They're not daft, after all. I dread to think of the mess one could get into if facing a liability or compensation case with undeclared mods hanging about in the background. I would have thought it was easy to interrogate an ECU to establish whether it had been tampered with after all.

Value my car