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Will custom features on my car affect my car insurance rates?

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Here's what you need to know...
  • Usually, your car insurance rates will increase if you choose to customize your vehicle
  • If you customize your car for performance or aesthetic reasons, your rates will probably rise
  • If the customization increases the value of the car, your premium will most likely increase
There are a lot of factors that come into play when answering the question of whether or not your car insurance rates will increase because of customization.

Generally, modifications made to your vehicle are done so for one of three reasons:

  • Make the car faster and perform better
  • Garner more attention from people
  • Make the car more practical for you

Enhancing the overall performance of the car will likely cause insurance rates to rise. Aesthetic improvements might cause a small increase depending on the scope of the work.

Making the car more practical probably will not cause an increase unless it is an expensive modification like an automatic wheelchair lift.

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What kind of modifications will cause an increase?

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Typically young men are the drivers who make modifications to their vehicles and they are already considered high-risk drivers.

The combination of a young man driving a customized and modified car will cause most insurance companies to either raise rates or drop coverage altogether.

An increase in performance usually entails making the vehicle faster and more powerful.

A faster car is more likely to be in an accident and receive multiple moving violations, therefore being a higher risk to the insurance company. 

A modification that is done to get more attention from onlookers will most likely not have a huge impact on car insurance rates.

Examples of these types of modifications include tinting the windows or added alloy wheels.

Does making my car look better cause my rates to rise?

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While aesthetically pleasing to the owner, certain modifications can cause car insurance rates to rise.

Although the customization might not make the car faster or more powerful, it can make the vehicle stand out and become more attractive to potential car thieves.

In addition, custom replacement parts will always cost more than an original manufacturer’s part, so insurance companies have to adjust their premiums to cover that possibility.

Modifications such as redoing the interior, performing a custom paint pattern on the car, or tinting the windows will most likely result in a small rate increase.

Expect a possible rate increase if the car is now more appealing to potential thieves, but that increase should stay at approximately 10 percent or less.

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Will making my car more practical cause my rates to rise?

The third and final way to customize a car is to make it more practical such as adding a built-in DVD player in a minivan.

While there is a cost associated with this customization, it generally will not raise the insurance rates because it only affects the individual who currently owns the vehicle.

The most important thing to remember is to ask your insurance company before any customization work is done if customization of your car will cause your insurance premiums to rise.

If there is an increase, ask what it would be and remember that the increase is most likely over a six-month or 12-month period.

You may be surprised that, depending on the insurance company and the work that was done, rates may not rise at all.

If your rates do rise, you always have the option of shopping for car insurance from another company.

Do I have to tell my insurance company about the modifications?

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When you tell your insurance company that you are making a certain modification or customization to your car, there is the possibility that your insurance rates will rise.

If you choose not to tell your car insurance company about a modification, then your rate will not change.

However, remember that if you do not report the modification it will not be covered in the case of a loss such as theft or an accident.

Contact your car insurance agent or customer service department to find out about any possible rate increase before you begin the customization.

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References:
  1. http://gearpatrol.com/2015/02/02/8-best-car-modifications/
  2. http://www.carponents.com/content/the-need-for-speed-20-different-ways-to-make-your-car-go-faster-137
  3. http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/g1150/5-reversible-car-modifications/
  4. http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/automotive/portable-dvd-player-vs-car-dvd-player.htm

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