Simple oversight leaves millions at risk of invalidating their car insurance

Simple oversight leaves millions at risk of invalidating their car insurance
Simple oversight leaves millions at risk of invalidating their car insurance

Millions of motorists could be unknowingly taking to the roads without valid insurance due to a simple mistake.

Insurers require owners to tell them of any modifications to their cars but research has suggested only a tiny proportion of people are doing so, either deliberately to keep costs down or because they don’t realise they have to.

Failing to inform your insurer of any changes – even seemingly minor ones such as fitting sat nav or adding decals to a car – can invalidate your insurance and leave you facing a hefty bill if you have an accident.

Second-hand car buyers, in particular, are being warned to check that their car meets its original specification as previous owners may have made modifications they are simply not aware of.

10 most common modifications

  1. Alloy wheels (non-standard)
  2. Exhaust system changes
  3. Suspension changes
  4. Alloy wheels (optional extra)
  5. Tow bar
  6. Tinted windows
  7. Air filter
  8. Parking sensors
  9. Chipped/engine management
  10. Complete body kit

Small changes

Research by GoCompare car insurance found that only 1.6 per cent of drivers have declared modifications to their cars but its experts believe the proportion of altered vehicles is much higher.

GoCompare spokesman Matt Oliver said: “While modifications may ring bells of the bygone boy racer, it’s worth remembering that insurers don’t just class body kits, exhaust systems or suspension changes as vehicle modifications.

“The average used car buyer could find there are modifications they’re simply not aware of.

Read more: Do I have to tell my car insurance provider if I’ve had a crash?

“Typically, modifications are anything which isn’t standard on a car, which could include alloy wheels, a satellite navigation system or even tinted windows – so it’s always worth checking what the factory standard is for your model of car to avoid landing in hot water when it comes to making a claim.”

It’s not just massive alloys, suspension drops and terrible body kits that you need to tell your insurer about. Picture: Shutterstock

Less obvious changes that still require insurers to be informed include fitting parking sensors, tow bars, magnetic signs or “increased performance badges”.

10 least common modifications

  1. Altered pedal setup
  2. High level/extra brake light
  3. Flared wings
  4. Dual control
  5. Increased performance badge
  6. Blueprinted
  7. Rally lights
  8. Nitrous oxide kit
  9. Magnetic/removable signs
  10. Murals

Refused insurance

Mr Oliver added: “Under two percent of drivers are claiming to have car modifications, but we estimate this figure to be much greater, which leaves potentially millions of drivers open to invalidating their insurance and having their claims rejected.

“Different insurers have different views on what constitutes a modification – so it’s always wise to tell your insurer of changes or additions you make to your vehicle at the time of making them. Otherwise you could find yourself in the situation of having a claim rejected and possibly your car insurance declared void – that could affect your ability to be insured full stop, and not only for car insurance.”

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