Insuring a modified or upgraded car

Most of us add a personal touch to our car. For some, it’s as simple as a bike rack. For others, it’s about what’s under the hood. No matter what you decide to change, make sure you’ve still got the right coverage. Here are the three main types of modifications and how they impact your insurance:

1. Accessibility

If you’ve made changes to your vehicle to make it more accessible for people with disabilities, it shouldn’t impact your coverage. However, if the value of your vehicle is significantly increased, it could up your premium. These types of changes include adding a wheelchair lift, hand controls or custom seat systems.

2. Cosmetic or performance enhancing

Thinking of enhancing your suspension? Looking to add custom paintwork, or even a standard bike rack? Some changes are considered “mainstream”, such as bike or ski racks, alloy wheels, alarm, radio or stereo systems and chrome exhaust systems. These are often covered by your insurer, but they could still increase your insurance rate.

Changes that would increase the value of your car beyond a few hundred dollars (like custom paintwork) may not be fully covered by your insurer. More importantly, if they could impact the safety of your vehicle (like enhanced suspension), your insurer may not be able to offer any coverage.

3. Illegal modifications

Certain provinces may have rules around the types of changes you can make to your vehicle. For example, nitrous oxide, under-body lighting or dark window tinting are illegal in some provinces. If you’ve made illegal upgrades to your vehicle you could face fines or other legal action. Plus, it will be pretty hard to find an insurer who will cover your vehicle. It’s best to check out the laws in your area before making any modifications so you don’t run into these issues.

No matter what type of change you’ve made to your car – even if it seems minor – be sure let your insurer know. Not sharing any changes to your vehicle could be reason to cancel your insurance or deny your claim. Worst-case scenario, telling your insurer upfront will let you know if they don’t offer the right coverage so you can find an insurer who does.

Note: Stay safe by making sure that any upgrades you make to your vehicle are always installed or inspected by a qualified professional.


Thinking of switching to Sonnet? Check out our FAQ to learn if we can offer coverage for your modified vehicle.