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Does modifying a car increase insurance?

Does modifying a car increase insurance?

Have you ever thought about splurging on a set of new alloy wheels, installing a high-end sound system, or giving your car a custom paint job? Modifying your vehicle can be a great way to personalise it and improve its performance.

However, you might want to check with your insurer before making these changes. Not all modifications are viewed favourably by insurance companies or state and territory transport departments. Some modifications might hike up your policy premium, and some can void your existing policy.

Even the slightest of modifications can alter the cost of your premium significantly, so you should make yourself aware of the details of modified car insurance.

Changing the appearance or making adjustments to improve the performance of your vehicle is considered a modification. Insurers generally consider these changes to be modifications:

  • Custom paint jobs
  • Tinted windows
  • Spoilers
  • Neon lights
  • Sunroof
  • Roll bars
  • Higher performance brakes
  • New exhaust system
  • High-performance stereo
  • Alloy wheels
  • Wider tyres
  • Sport seats
  • Suspension upgrades
  • Turbochargers or superchargers

If, however, any of these come standard in your car, the insurer won’t consider it a modification. You should still declare them on your car insurance policy to make sure they are covered.

How does modification affect my car insurance?

Insurance companies take into account two key areas while evaluating your insurance costs – the risk of an accident and the risk of theft. Modifications that change the performance of your car can be deemed dangerous and increases the risk of an accident. At the same time, changing the look and making the car more attractive increases the likelihood of possible car theft. Both of these possible scenarios can significantly increase your insurance premiums.

If you already have car insurance, it is advisable to check with the insurer regarding all your planned changes before you modify your car. Checking with them will give you a clearer picture of whether your current policy covers the modifications, or if you’ll need to modify or add to the policy to cover the changes.

Generally, you’re more likely to get a more affordable insurance quote if the modifications are done by a professional than if you were to carry out the modifications yourself.

What changes does modified car insurance cover?

Not all car insurance providers accept all modifications, and the actual list varies from insurer to insurer. Typical modifications that most insurers cover include:

  • Alloy wheels
  • Chrome exhaust systems
  • Leather seats
  • Bicycle racks
  • Roof racks
  • Bullbars
  • Driving lights
  • Stabiliser bars
  • Reversing cameras
  • Tow bars
  • Sunroofs
  • Air shock absorbers
  • Alarm systems
  • Radio and stereo systems
  • CD stackers
  • Additional lighting
  • Single-tone air horns

Modifications that are not covered by most insurers include:

  • Custom paint work
  • Deafening exhaust systems
  • Nitro or hydrogen fuel equipped engines
  • Roll bars or roll cages
  • Racing harnesses
  • Turbo or supercharged engines 
  • Dark window tinting
  • Noncompliant changes to the tyres
  • Illegal changes to the suspension 
  • Illegal alterations to the chassis
  • Nonstandard and unlawful changes to the engine

There are some specialist modified car insurance providers who are willing to insure vehicles with performance-enhancing modifications. They do this by adding to the excess you pay, which is the amount you pay when you make a claim.

You can compare modified car insurance providers to find the right insurance for your car.

Is it possible to get low-cost car insurance for modified cars? 

Like with any insurance policy, there are several ways to lower your modified car insurance premiums. The following list will show you how to insure a modified car at a low cost.

  • Driving a low-priced and less powerful car
  • Registering additional drivers, which may get you a discount
  • Having a cap on the age and number of drivers
  • Installing a car alarm or immobiliser to increase security
  • Bundling all your insurances with one provider to access a loyalty discount
  • Choosing a Pay As You Drive option
  • Looking for a policy where you can access a ‘No Claims Bonus’ discount
  • Purchasing insurance online to get a discount
  • Instead of agreed value modified car insurance opt for market value modified car insurance

Other insurance conditions to keep in mind before modifying your car

You might still have a few queries regarding modified car insurance. Here are some common conditions around insurance for modified cars.

1. Is my modification legal?

All modifications made to your car must be street-legal for you even to entertain the idea of insuring the car. If you modify your vehicle in a way that isn’t legal, you’ll likely not be able to get insurance to cover your car. The police could also fine you, impound your vehicle or deregister it if you get pulled over with illegal modifications. Young drivers with a probationary licence aren’t permitted to drive cars with performance-enhancing modifications and could lose their licence.

2. Does my modification need approval?

Depending on the state or territory you live in, you might need to seek official approval before carrying out certain complex modifications. Check with the local transport department for details.

3. Does my insurer need to know about modifications made to my car?

If you don't inform your insurer about any car modifications, you may not be fully covered. They may also reject your claims and even cancel your policy because the car no longer matches the one on your policy. If your vehicle is still under warranty and you don't inform the insurer, it could invalidate your warranty.

4. Should I opt for a modified car agreed value or market value?

Some insurers might give you the option to choose between market value and agreed value when deciding on your cover. Market value means your policy will cover you for the current market value of your car, subject to depreciation. Agreed value is the number you and your insurer agree your car is worth, but the premiums, in this case, can sometimes be higher. If you’ve modified your car significantly, the market value may not match the additional value you’ve added to the car. In this case, opting for the agreed value may be the smarter option.

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Fact Checked -

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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Learn more about car insurance

Does insurance cover a stolen car if keys were in the car?

A car insurance policy that covers the theft of your car, such as third party fire and theft insurance, usually covers a stolen car, even if the keys were in the car’s ignition.

However, your insurer may deny the claim if you live in an area where there have been several car robberies reported recently. They will see you leaving the keys in the car as a case of negligence. In such cases, your insurance provider may even expect you to have installed anti-theft security measures in your car. 

You may need to confirm whether or not you left your keys in your car, and if they had been stolen or misplaced, before filing your car insurance claim. The loss or theft of your car keys may be covered by a comprehensive car insurance policy, but usually as an optional item.

If you can confirm that your car keys were stolen, mention this in your claim as this will help establish that your car was not stolen as a result of your negligence.

Can you insure your car for 6 months?

Most Australian insurers won’t offer you a 6-month car insurance policy, so you may need to buy a policy that covers your car for damages and cancel it after six months. You will need to purchase comprehensive car insurance to protect your car from accidental damage, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.. 

Consider checking whether your 6-month comprehensive car insurance will cost more if you pay monthly or six-monthly premiums instead of a one-time annual premium. Another question to ask the insurer is whether you’ll need to pay administration or cancellation fees when you cancel the policy.

Alternatively, you can look for a suitable ‘pay as you drive’ car insurance policy, which usually offers you the coverage of a comprehensive car insurance policy but only requires you to pay for the distance driven. Such a policy may not be the ideal 6-month car insurance plan as it is based on how much you drive rather than for how long. If you need to drive a lot, you may end up paying more than you’d pay for regular car insurance. 

How to choose car insurance?

With so many types of car insurance out there, it can be a challenge to choose the right one for you. Factors to consider when choosing car insurance include the cost, the inclusions, and the benefits of each, which may vary from provider to provider. When choosing a car insurance company, spend some time comparing what is, and what isn’t, covered by the policies.

Compulsory third party (CTP) insurance is part of your car registration cost. However, CTP does not protect you against damage to your car if it’s written off after an accident or if it gets stolen. Moreover, you might have to pay for damages to someone else's property in case of an accident.

Other covers you may wish to consider are third party property insurance, third party property, fire and theft insurance, and comprehensive insurance. While you might want to get additional insurance, not everyone requires the highest cover, and it depends entirely on several factors, such as the make and age of the car or the area where you live.

You can compare car insurance providers to get a policy that suits your needs.

Does car insurance cover contents?

Thousands of vehicles are stolen each year, but insurance can protect you from financial loss.

A common question you may have is what does my car insurance cover? This depends on the type of insurance and there are four basic types of car insurance, and each offers different cover.

 

Types of car insurance

Compulsory third-party (CTP) insurance indemnifies you against liabilities arising due to personal injuries to another party. A third-party fire and theft insurance policy covers loss to your car or third-party property in an accident. It also covers expenses if your vehicle is damaged in a fire or stolen. Third-party property insurance covers any liability resulting from damage to third-party property but any damage to your property is not covered under this policy.  Comprehensive policy covers most costs arising in case of an accident to either your car or third-party property.

 

Does car insurance cover stolen contents?

Does car insurance cover contents lost in case of a theft? Generally, any valuables stolen from the vehicle, such as your phone, are not covered under car insurance. However, some insurers offer vehicle contents insurance that does cover the loss of valuables from your car.

Consider reading your policy’s product disclosure statement (PDS) to find out if it covers contents, or contact your insurer directly.

Remember, there are several ways in which you can prevent theft of both your car and contents. Being a little more cautious can make a huge difference.

Can you get same-day car insurance?

While you can buy car insurance the same day you purchase a vehicle, coverage may not take effect immediately, and you need to make sure you aren’t driving around without an active car insurance policy. This can happen if the insurer insists that your vehicle needs to be inspected before they approve the policy. When purchasing a new or used car, you will need compulsory third-party (CTP) coverage before you can drive it. Usually, CTP coverage is included with your car registration. However, in some states, you can choose to buy it from an insurer licensed by the state or territory to offer CTP coverage. Consider checking whether you should buy this policy before registering the car.

Given that you can buy a car insurance policy online, getting the policy may only take an hour or two if you’ve done your research. You may want to ask the insurer about any waiting periods they may place on coverage. For instance, if you’re buying third-party fire and theft insurance just before the bushfire season, the insurer may not allow you to file a fire damage insurance claim anytime soon. Many insurance providers will let you decide the date on which your coverage becomes active. This may be useful if you’re about to buy a car and want to match the date the insurance coverage becomes active with the day you plan to register your car.

Can you claim insurance for car dents?

Car insurance has been designed to protect you from some of the costs of repairing damage to your car. However, is it worth claiming car insurance for a dent?

The main factor to take into account is the excess that you will need to pay at the time of making the insurance claim for the car door dent, and comparing it with the repair cost of the dent.

For instance, if someone collided into your car with a shopping cart and the cost of repairing the dent is lesser than your excess, you would be better off not making the claim. However, if your car’s panels are dented by intense hail, in all likelihood the cost of getting the dents taken care of will be much higher than your excess. Here making a car dent insurance claim would make sense.

Please note that if you’re making a car dent insurance claim for damages that have accumulated over a long time, you will be required to pay an excess for each separate incident that dented your car.

 

Can I get car insurance after an accident?

Buying car insurance after an accident will cover you for future accidents, but won’t cover you for the accident you just had.

Having an accident is also likely to affect your future premiums.  How much is car insurance after an accident likely to cost you? That often depends on the cause of the accident you had and who was at fault. If you were not at fault, it shouldn’t affect you greatly. If you were, the price of car insurance is likely to rise as you’re considered a bigger liability by the insurer.

When buying your car insurance policy, consider asking your insurer how much does car insurance go up after an accident.

The circumstances of the accident can also affect your ability to buy car insurance. If the accident was caused by your reckless driving, your insurer may even cancel your car insurance policy for violating its terms. This may require you to buy a new policy urgently or run the risk of being underinsured. Remember that not reporting a serious at-fault accident to your current or future car insurance provider can also result in such cancellation if the insurer later finds out about the accident.

Can I have two insurance policies on one car?

Everyone who drives a car in Australia must have insurance. If you were found driving without insurance, you’d likely have to pay a big fine go and may even have to go to court.

Having said that, there’s no need to have two car insurance policies at the same time if both cover the same thing.

You may get different policies for comprehensive or third party damage and compulsory third party, but usually there’s no need to have different policies for different drivers. Insurers should cover multiple drivers for the same car.

There are some instances where you may accidentally have two of the same car insurance policies. For example, if one policy has automatically renewed, but you sought insurance elsewhere without realising. If the question is, can a car have two insurance policies legally? The answer may technically be yes, but again, having two separate insurance policies for the same vehicle is not recommended.

If you do have two policies and are involved in a car accident, you cannot file claims with both insurance companies to get a financial windfall.

Can I drive a new car without insurance?

It is illegal to drive a car in Australia without insurance. Most states require that you get your insurance in place before you drive the car off the dealership’s plot. So, the answer to whether driving a new car without insurance is no, it is not allowed.

The only time you can possibly legally drive an uninsured car is when you have to get the vehicle registered. You should drive straight to an inspection station or your state's vehicle registry. You must also make sure that you take the most direct or convenient route possible.

It is important to note that your compulsory third party insurance (CTP or green slip) isn’t valid until your car is registered.

Driving an unregistered or uninsured vehicle can have severe legal repercussions. If you are involved in an accident, and are driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle, you will be personally liable to pay compensation to anyone hurt, as well as for damages. If you are caught driving a vehicle without insurance, you may be fined or even have your vehicle seized.

 

Does car insurance cover driving while intoxicated?

Will car insurance pay if drunk driving causes an accident? Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal, however, some insurers may cover the liabilities.

Your driving history and experience are important factors that affect the car insurance premium. If you have had violations for drinking under the influence, insurers may perceive you as high-risk. They will then be more likely to charge you a higher car insurance premium.

But does car insurance cover drunk driving accident liabilities? Many factors are involved in answering this, here’s what you should know.

Amount of cover

Although driving while intoxicated is illegal, if you’re involved in an accident, your insurance may cover damages within the limits of the policy. While expenses should be covered under your car insurance for drunk driving accidents, you may face other penalties, like cancellation or non-renewal of your policy.

Premiums

Additionally, the premium on car insurance for drunk drivers may increase by as much as 79% if you’re convicted. Some insurers, however, won’t cover damages if you’re driving whilst intoxicated and you don’t comply with the conditions laid out in the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

Check "does car insurance cover you if you are drunk" in the terms and conditions of your policy if you have a history of such violations.

Are stolen car keys covered by insurance?

Having your car key stolen is not just frustrating, but it can also turn out to be quite a costly affair. Modern electronic keys can be much more expensive to replace than traditional ones, and losing one can make a sizeable dent in your pocket. But does insurance cover stolen car keys?

A few comprehensive car insurance and third party fire and theft policies do cover lost car keys as a standard, while others offer it to their customers as an extra. However, there are some that don’t entertain stolen car keys insurance claims, so you must check with your insurance policy provider and read the Product Disclosure Statement carefully before purchasing the policy.

It is important to note that you will need to prove to your car insurance provider that the keys have actually been stolen and not merely misplaced, as most policies will refuse to provide cover in the case of lost keys. Car insurance policies that cover stolen keys typically cover the cost of replacing the keys, recoding your car locks and locksmith charges.

 

Can you have a car without insurance?

Can you have a car without insurance? The simple answer is ‘no’ and driving without insurance is illegal. Every vehicle in Australia is required to have at minimum a Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance policy to be registered to drive.

Having car insurance beyond CTP is entirely up to you as the driver and owner of the vehicle. You may want to keep in mind, however, that being in a car accident can be traumatic, especially if it results in vehicular damage or injuries.

Dealing with any expenses that arise in an accident when you are at fault can cause additional stress. This is especially true if you don’t have insurance coverage that will assist in paying for these damages.

Compulsory third-party insurance

In multiple states and territories, the cost of CTP insurance is included in the registration expenses. For the states or territories where it’s not included, CTP insurance needs to be confirmed before you’re able to pay for registration. CTP insurance protects you against claims arising due to accidental injuries or death when you are involved in an at-fault car accident.

Why is CTP inadequate?

CTP does not cover damage to third-party property or any of the vehicles involved in the accident. The driver who is responsible for the accident is liable to cover all the expenses. Therefore, if you only have CTP insurance, you’ll have to pay for other expenses, such as car and property repairs, towing, and potentially car rental. If you want a policy that covers these costs, you need a comprehensive or third-party property damage insurance policy.

If you’re asking, is it illegal to have a car without insurance, the answer isn’t simple. Specifically, it is illegal to not have a CTP policy at the very least, but any insurance beyond that is a choice. If you’re caught driving an unregistered vehicle --  if you don’t have a CTP insurance policy, that is -- you may receive infringement notices that include fines and a loss of demerit points.

Does my car insurance cover water damage?

There are many types of natural disasters that affect Australia and if your car is in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could get damaged. The right insurance policy should protect you from loss if your car needs to be repaired. Comprehensive car insurance packages cover certain types of water damage. However, it depends on what caused the damage.

Under certain policies, your car may be covered for water damage caused by flooding, heavy rain, and hailstorms. Your car’s exterior, interior, and engine are typically covered against these natural disasters under comprehensive policies.

However, comprehensive cover does not usually pay for any internal water damage caused by a maintenance issue, such as a window or sunroof left open during a rainstorm or an ignored slow leak. Leaks that are a result of heavy rain might be covered given it’s possible that your car has some imperfections like bad sealing on the windows, doors, or sunroof.

To ensure that you can claim water damage car insurance, follow these car water damage insurance claim tips: 

  • Get slow leaks repaired as soon as they emerge;
  • Ensure that windows or the sunroof are never left open when the car is not in use.

Can you register and insure a car without a license?

Yes, it is possible to buy, register and insure a car without a driver’s licence in Australia. While most states and territories have different rules regarding car purchase, some states may allow this. However, it is important to note that you won’t be covered if you’re driving the car and you are involved in an accident.

The reason people consider taking out cover on their car even without a licence is to protect the car against theft, vandalism and fire. If someone else regularly drives your car then also you may wish to insure your vehicle. Ensure that you list this driver on your policy, else you might end up having to shell out money for an unlisted driver excess in the event of a claim.