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4 vehicle modifications that can impact your auto insurance rate

Sept. 12, 2022
5 mins
modified vehicle

Vehicle modifications are changes that you as a driver can make to your vehicle to alter the way it looks or performs. Some are considered cosmetic changes that personalize your vehicle, while others are mechanical modifications that can affect how the vehicle performs on the road.

It’s important to keep in mind that some modifications can cause your car insurance premium to increase. Consider these four vehicle modifications and how they might impact your rate.

1. Increasing horsepower

One popular vehicle modification is increasing the vehicle's horsepower, which your insurance provider may see as a negative. Because this modification affects your vehicle’s performance, your insurance provider needs to be made aware of it. Vehicles with increased horsepower don’t take much to get to high speeds, making them riskier on the roads. Because of this, your insurance provider may increase your premium.

2. Window tint

Although tinting your windows is a common vehicle modification, it’s not legal in all provinces across Canada nor is it always deemed to be a safe upgrade. Making modifications to your vehicle’s windows can have an influence not only on its value, but its safety level, too. If the driver side window is tinted too dark, outside road users, including pedestrians, would be unable to know if eye contact was being made with the driver.

Tinted film can also make it more difficult to be rescued from a vehicle in the event of a serious collision, as the glass can no longer be broken effectively with a window punch. So, any added risk to personal safety will be considered by your insurance provider.

3. Vehicle wrap

Some drivers may want to change the look of their vehicle and will opt for a vehicle wrap. Changing the colour of your vehicle using paint won’t not affect your insurance premium but adding a car wrap can.

Since a car wrap is costly, it could raise the overall value of your car, which could in turn increase your insurance premium. Wrapped vehicles also tend to be targets for theft and vandalism.

4. Roof rack

Adding a roof rack is considered a functional vehicle modification and installing one without notifying your insurance provider could affect your ability to make a claim.

Not only can a roof rack change the overall value of your vehicle, but it can also affect how your vehicle holds up in a collision. Depending on what you’re storing on the rack at the time of the accident, the extra weight and height of various objects, like bicycles or kayaks, will influence the aerodynamics of your vehicle and how it sustains damage. Failure to disclose a modification like this can result in a denied claim or your policy being cancelled.

Notify your car insurance provider before modifying your vehicle

Before you decide to make any modification to your vehicle, you should contact your car insurance provider. Not all car insurance providers will offer modified vehicle coverage due to the perceived risks related to the process. It’s wise to check with your insurance provider to ensure that they will cover you prior to modifying your vehicle.

If your insurance provider is open to covering your vehicle after you make the modification(s), they would provide you with an updated quote. This will give you a general idea of how much your premium will change, if at all. However, comparing car insurance rates among different providers is still recommended to ensure you’re getting the lowest rate offered in Canada.

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Scott Marshall

Scott Marshall has spent over 30 years promoting road safety across Canada. He has seen many things from inside the vehicle while training new drivers, retraining licensed drivers, and training new driving instructors. Scott began writing road safety articles in 2005 for a community newspaper and has moved on to more publications from there.

In 2005, Scott was an on-air judge on the Discovery Network's Canada's Worst Driver program for its first three seasons. That gave Scott insight with regards to what makes bad drivers so bad. He was also the host of The National Driving Test internet webisodes.

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