Installing a New Sound System in Your Car Could Leave You in Trouble with Your Insurer

Any changes you make to your car could be counted as modifications and your car insurance may not pay out in the event of an accident.  Putting some window stickers on your car door or fitting a set of roof racks can seem like a fairly harmless activity, however, this can ring alarm bells with your insurer.

Installing a new radio system in your car can invalidate your insurance as it is increasing the value of your vehicle. If you put in a claim in after an accident, your insurer may reject the claim on the basis that the car is not identical to what they have insured in the first place.

“You must tell us what modifications you intend to make and obtain our agreement prior to making them.”

What Counts as Modifications?

‘Modifications’ is a word greeted with caution by some insurers. “If you’ve altered your car in any way since it left the factory or showroom, this can be deemed an aftermarket modification,” says Matt Oliver from If you’re buying a vehicle second-hand you still need to declare any modifications that have been made by the previous owner. “The fact you didn’t make them might not be taken into account by your insurer,” he says.

Modifications usually follow two categories, ‘power-related’ or ‘cosmetic’. Adapting the engine size or changing the gearbox or transmission are obvious power modifications which most would know to notify insurance companies of. However, cosmetic changes can be a grey area and cover anything from stickers to parking sensors and tow-bars and insurance companies set their own rules so it’s best to check with your own provider.

Changes Once Your Policy’s Active

On average, drivers who modify their vehicles have to pay an extra £95 a year on their insurance cover, however, you shouldn’t assume it is ok to go ahead and make changes to your vehicle without making sure it’s ok to do so with your insurer. The small print in Direct Line’s motor policy says: “You must tell us what modifications you intend to make and obtain our agreement prior to making them.”

If you go ahead and make the modifications without prior consent from your insurance provider, they could be within their rights to revoke your policy, so always ask before making any changes.

Hidden Costs

Switching insurers can save you money, however, each company takes a different stance on modifications so it’s worth remembering that just because your last insurer was fine with any modifications you made to your vehicle, it doesn’t necessarily mean your next one will be too.

Being organised could help you keep costs down when adding modifications. Many insurers can charge between £25 and £30 for mid-term adjustment fees, so making sure any modifications take place during the policy renewal can limit these costs.

Relatively minor modifications can seem like a bargain; however, they can prove costly when you add on the insurer’s administration fees to process the change in your policy. If you are sticking any bumper stickers that promote your own business on your car you also must find out if your insurance covers you for commercial purposes.

While your car insurance might go up when you report a modification, remember you do not have to accept the price and stay with that company. By shopping around, you could easily find a cheaper deal with a different user.