Auto Insurance For
Modified Cars

Learn about the insurance risks involved with modified cars.

What is a modified car?

Modified cars come in two categories: for street and for show. Between these options, street cars tend to be harder to insure.

Street cars may have modified aspects, such as the suspension, engine and exhaust – all parts of the car designed to help make it perform better. But, modifying your car can also increase the likelihood of an accident, thus raising your insurance rate.

Modifications and vehicle safety

Modifications and vehicle safety go hand-in-hand, as they either directly or indirectly effect the likelihood or severity of an accident. They will also impact the cost to repair your vehicle.

In Canada, the reality is that even common and seemingly minor modifications are of concern to automobile insurance companies. For example, Canadian insurance companies have denied claims or even cancelled auto insurance policies because the insured vehicle was modified by the installation of minimally different rims or tire sizes without proper disclosure.

You may think making a minor change to a vehicle is no big deal. But to most Canadian insurance carriers, even small modifications could be significant enough to result in a claim denial or policy cancellation.

Common modifications that may affect your auto insurance rates are:
  • The engine
  • Lowering the suspension
  • The seats
  • Brakes or braking system
  • Coloured lights
  • The transmission
  • Tinted windows
  • Tires

If you’re planning to make any of these modifications, you must contact your insurance agency beforehand. Your insurer will help you understand how the modifications will impact your policy, as well as whether the modifications are even legal in your province.

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Modified car insurance

Some insurers won’t insure a modified vehicle. That’s why it’s best to talk to your insurer before, rather than after, you make any expensive changes. If your current provider does not accommodate modified vehicles you may need to search for a new provider that does.

The most fundamental aspect to obtaining proper insurance coverage for a modified car is listing the precise nature of the changes and alterations that have been made to the vehicle. A person cannot simply submit an application for a modified car that makes note of the make, model and year. Rather, detailed information about all changes to the vehicle and all new parts must be fully disclosed.

Canadian car insurance companies may assume a greater insurable risk with a modified car. If the insurance company has not been notified that a car has been modified, the consumer runs the risk of having a claim denied.

Frequently asked questions about modified cars

What if my current insurance company doesn’t cover modified vehicles?

Owners of modified cars must make their insurance company fully aware of all changes that have been made. This will likely alter the details of your coverage. In some cases, your insurance provider may inform you that making the intended modifications will render you ineligible for coverage. In that case, you’ll need to decide between reconsidering the modifications or finding an auto insurance provider that allows them.

What types of modifications are illegal in Ontario?

Some modifications are not permitted in Ontario. For example, you can tint your windows but not your windshield. Here are some more specific modifications that are prohibited:

  • Oversizing tires: you can modify tires, but they must be deemed safe for the highway.
  • Lights: the only legal colour you can have for lights are white and amber.
  • Windshield wipers: you can replace the two wipers with one, but it can’t obstruct your view of the road.
  • Sound or exhaust system: excessive noise or smoke from your car is illegal.

If you’ve done your research and are still unsure whether something is illegal or not, ask your car insurance provider.

What are mainstream car modifications?

Some changes to your car don’t necessarily affect its performance but are still considered ‘modifications.’ These may include bike racks, ski racks and stereo systems.

There are also ways to modify your car to make it accessible for people with disabilities, such as adding a wheel chair lift, specialty seats or hand controls.

In some cases, even mainstream modifications can increase your premium. As always, check with your insurer for specifics.

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