Half of drivers hide car modifications from their insurer

Published 18 April 2019

Thousands of drivers are hiding car modifications from their insurer in order to get a cheaper deal, according to new industry research.

A survey of 2000 motorists by MoneySuperMarket found that nearly half (45 per cent) didn't bother to inform their insurer of a vehicle modifications, despite the risk of being denied a pay out if the event of a claim.

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As well as being left out of pocket, dishonest drivers of modified cars also risk a fine of £300 and six penalty points. The police also have the power to seize, and in some cases, crush the vehicle in question.

Modified cars are traditionally associated with ‘boy racers’ and loud exhaust pipes, but the survey by MoneySuperMarket suggests that the true culprits could be older drivers who prefer a relaxing few days in a seaside caravan over a party-fuelled weekender in Ibiza.

“Different insurers have alternative views on what constitutes a modification, so it’s worth taking the time to check."

Fitting a tow bar (20 per cent) is the most-common car modification not to be declared, followed by larger or more expensive alloy wheels (15 per cent) and parking sensors (9 per cent). 

“While we generally think of modifications as loud exhausts and body kits, something as small as getting a parking sensor installed can count as a modification, so it’s worth notifying your insurer whenever you make any change to your vehicle,” said Tom Flack, editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket.

“Different insurers have alternative views on what constitutes a modification, so it’s worth taking the time to check if any changes you make will impact your policy. If in doubt, talk to your insurer.”

Data taken from MoneySuperMarket analysis of 27,044 car insurance enquiries found that drivers with a modified vehicle pay on average £95 more to insure their vehicle, although the comparison website claims that drivers can pay significantly less by shopping around.


Palcouk    on 19 April 2019

I suspect the fact that certain type of Insurers have used dubious/suspect clauses to add more means of extracting money may have somethoing to do with this

mmmmm    on 19 April 2019

I suspect the fact that certain type of Insurers have used dubious/suspect clauses to add more means of extracting money may have somethoing to do with this

Maybe so, but the two are not connected and citing this in the event of a claim will elicit no sympathy. Declare and know where you stand.

Captain-Cretin    on 21 April 2019

My current car came with 17" alloys as standard - except my 1 y/o one didnt, it came on 16" steel (but did have cruise control - which ISNT standard).

So about 2 years after buying it, as the tyres needed replacing, I bought some 17" TUV certified alloys, and being a good boy - informed the insurer (RAC) - who tried to cancel my policy on the spot.

I had to beg for a one hour grace period to find another insurer.

Not more expensive, not bigger.......

And the RAC can b***** off if they ever think I am going to give them money again.

Bernard46    on 23 April 2019

The problem here lies with the insurance regulator surely. Insurance has become a means of screwing as much money out of any one powerless individual by a large corporation as possible and yet the regulators don’t seem to see any problem with this. It’s the same issue as loyalty isn’t it - loyalty just does not pay for the powerless individual.

Surely the whole point of insurance is to spread the risk so that when something happens, and
lets be honest, it will to most of us sometime during our lifetime, then we don’t suffer any more of a problem than we absolutely have to. There aren’t that many of us who go out of our way to create problems for ourselves, and any accident is a problem for us with all the hassle that is inevitably involved. However as far as insurance is concerned then then companies are so keen to engage in cut-throat competition that they will go to almost any length to shave a penny off their prices so they can wallop you with a £25 service charge plus an additional premium for keying in a note on your policy that you have a parking sensor installed (surely the parking sensor makes you less of a risk - doesn’t it?)

Yes, you should have to report anything that significantly alters the performance of the vehicle because you then change the level of risk, but a parking sensor, a tow bar, etc - really? Let’s get some common sense back into life, and have the regulators start telling the insurance companies to grow up.

flumff    on 23 April 2019

It keeps the claims assessors busy, their aim in life is to get out
of a claim.
Keeps the insurance company happy!

Even a sticker on the side of the car is a get out clause, for
an insurance company.

Thats before they lift the bonnet!

Happy days!

They dont want to payout, dont give them a reason not to.

DLDLDL    on 23 April 2019

Insurers are their own worst enemies (and consequently ours)

Every year when my renewal comes round I am asked to check the statement of fact which every year says:
1) my car is unmodified - and yet every year I tell them about the towbar
2) I have never had insurance cancelled - and yet every year I tell them that I had a policy with another insurer cancelled when they failed to confirm my NCD
3) etc etc
They always confirm "that's OK", but every year they try to "get me" again by asking me confirm an incorrect statement of fact.

Ever read the policy?
Mine says that insurance is invalid "if the windows are open" - even if you are driving it. You question it and they say "that is not the intention" - so why don't they says what they mean rather than create reasons to invalidate my cover?

   on 23 April 2019

With specific regard to tow bar: my V70R has a factory fitted removable tow bar.....surely that should not count as a modification? I’ve always declared the cars LPG conversion, but it has never occurred to me to even mention the tow bar.

SouthernDervish    on 23 April 2019

Mine has -but bought as factory fitted as far as I am concerned this is now standard.

John Bellwood    on 23 April 2019

This is totally ridiculous!! I have had tow bars on my cars since my 1976 Ford Capri 2000S, these have included Reliant Scimitar GTE, Vauxhall Cavalier, two Rovers and no less than seven Ford Mondeos and Ive NEVER declared these as modified! The tow bars were all correctly 'e' marked and fitted by a specialist! How many years have I been in the wrong??

AQ    on 23 April 2019

Never thought to mention rear parking sensors I added. They reduce the risk of mishaps when reversing. Perhaps my insurer will actually reduce my premium! Somehow I don't think so. Surely, insurers should only be interested in modifications that might alter the risk. Better tell them about the new floor mats too.

Keith Moat    on 23 April 2019

Yes they might reduce your premium but then charge you an admin fee that is more than the reduction.

Rob Pollock    on 23 April 2019

Some insurers claim they increase the premiums for modifications because they make the vehicle more likely to be stolen. Wheels are a prime example, but other things, well, they're stretching it a bit. And each time you modify the vehicle, they charge you an admin fee as well as an increase in premium if you take the time (your time) to tell them.
Towbars are a risk, to bumpbers and shins, as well as the potential to be towing something big that will do more damage, so in a way you can see why they'd want a bit more to cover you, but on the whole, they're out to fleece the motorist, same as every government we've ever voted in.
Considering how many motorists there are in the UK, I can't believe we put up with it, I can't believe there's not a lobby group which can pressurise the government to treat us a bit better, and to reign in the insurance companies.To put things into some perspective, a recent online petition forced the Welsh government to ban pheasant shooting on public land, it was only 12,000 signatures, but it got it through. There are well over 24 million vehicles registered, how many votes will that be then?

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