Car insurance modifications

Pat38493
Pat38493 Posts: 2,500
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edited 10 February at 10:12AM in Insurance & life assurance
Can I check what modifications to a car needs to be declared to your insurance?

I had previously assumed that anything that you can place as a factory order on the car is standard and not a modification.  However I have read that a Towbar is a modification.  Does this include factory fit Towbar?

If so, where does this end?  For example is changing the colour from the default, or selecting a higher spec that includes a sunroof and alloy wheels also a modification?

Comments

  • Was it on your car when bought new? No? Then it’s a modification.

    simple really
  • Pat38493
    Pat38493 Posts: 2,500
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    Was it on your car when bought new? No? Then it’s a modification.

    simple really
    OK - but I have found links that says that having a tow bar on your car is a modification that you need to inform your insurance company about.  However some car makers allow you to specify a tow bar on the factory order.

    So if the tow bar was already on the car when bought new, it's not a modification?
  • GrumpyDil
    GrumpyDil Posts: 1,566
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    In my view anything fitted from factory is standard. 
  • Aretnap
    Aretnap Posts: 5,140
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    You have to declare the things that the insurer asks you about. Most insurers just ask if the car has been "modified" which, unless they provide an alternative definition, means what it means in plain English - any change which has been made since the car left the factory. However a few insurers (Admiral spring to mind) also ask about any factory-fitted optional extras which are not particularly of the standard spec for that model.

    If in doubt you are probably best to declare it. I have a towbar on my (second hand) car which I am reasonably sure is factory fitted, but I usually tick the box for towbar under modifications just in case and have never found that it makes any noticeable difference to my premiums. OTOH when I asked Direct Line a few years ago they told me that they didn't consider a towbar to be a modification and that I didn't need to declare it. I kept a screenshot of the web chat just in case 
  • chrisw
    chrisw Posts: 3,371
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    Hmm. I've had a few tow bars fitted in the past and never even thought about them being modifications. I guess it depends on how picky the insurance companies want to be.
  • Rodders53
    Rodders53 Posts: 2,088
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    A towbar rarely (if ever) affects the premium.  Some claim it sometimes reduces it.

    I've had one (second owner) vehicle with factory fit towbar. 
    I can't recall if I declared it as a modification or not but did tell the Insurer that we towed a Caravan regardless.
    It was on the manufacturer (Ford) vehicle database as a factory fit item, along with various other options such as leather seats with power adjust, panoramic sunroof, metallic paint, powerfold mirrors and so on.

    If in doubt ask the Insurer or Broker.
  • Pat38493
    Pat38493 Posts: 2,500
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    chrisw said:
    Hmm. I've had a few tow bars fitted in the past and never even thought about them being modifications. I guess it depends on how picky the insurance companies want to be.
    Looking a bit more - there are a lot of sites that say that you have to declare it to your insurance company if you have  towbar fitted.  The wording is often something like "if you get a towbar fitted to the car", which leaves you to interpret that if it's a factory fit that doesn't count.  However I guess it's probably safer just to register it anyway.
  • mgfvvc
    mgfvvc Posts: 1,162
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    It's entirely up to your insurer. I seem to recall that Admiral used to require you to declare anything "non-standard", including factory fitted options. Even within the same insurer it may vary. I recently asked Marmalade whether I needed to declare a hard wired dash cam and the advisor on chat said I did. When I then tried to declare it I was told that it didn't need to be declared, but it did on some other policies.
  • 400ixl
    400ixl Posts: 2,648
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    Factory fit towbars added as options are rarely fitted in the factory, usually at the dealership. So in essence you have had it fitted.

    Build sheets are well maintained by the manufacturer network alongside the standard trim. You need to check what the insurer wants you to declare.
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 9,182
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    Most insurers only want to know about what was done to the car after it left the factory however there are exceptions, like Admiral as noted above, who want to know about all optional extras inc factory fitted ones. 

    Somethings you do need to be careful about because even though you order it with something it comes without it from the factory and the dealership fit it after. Most are silly things like floor mats or clip in wind breakers on convertibles etc but they can include things like towbars. 

    Ultimately its not for you to decide if a modification is declarable or not, its for you to declare all modifications that meet the definition in the question and for the insurer to decide if it is relevant or not. Towbars can increase premiums given they tend to increase the damage you do if you reverse into something, means you are likely to be towing for which they are liable for the damage your trailer/caravan causes etc. 
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