By Wang’ombe Kibunja
Car insurance covers expenses that accrue when you are involved in an accident or robbery. It also covers expenses of the drivers, passengers, and all those who are involved in an accident. Paying for your insurance is mandatory and failing to pay is foolhardy as you never know what will happen in the future with the many accidents on our roads. As good as that sounds, you can lose your insurance cover if you modify your car in certain ways. Why?
This is because you may make modifications that increase the value of your car which will then make it expensive for the insurance company to fix or replace your car parts, also some modifications are safety hazards. When you modify your car you need to let the insurance company know. It is advisable to always inform your insurance company before any modifications because it may lead to you being overcharged.
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Engine & Mechanics
Engine and mechanical modifications can include the air filters, exhaust systems, and the transmission which when modified can improve the performance of the car. As much as you are increasing the performance in some instances, modifications to the engine or vehicle mechanics – such as the exhaust system, transmission, or air filter – must be declared to your insurance provider. The reason why such modifications can lead to you losing your insurance is that it can increase the risk of accidents, which will affect the cost of your premium.
Making modifications to car wheels can significantly alter the handling of your car, while wheel upgrades will increase its value. Alloy wheels are much stronger yet lighter than steel ones of the same size, which improves car handling. It is because there will be less weight for the suspension to cope with and less resistance when you steer. The strength of alloy also means it will flex less around corners.
Brakes and suspension
You can als lose your insurance if you modify your brakes. Modified brakes may alter the behavior of your car on the road. If your car has been fitted with upgraded brakes, or the suspension has been modified, its behavior on the road will be altered. Therefore you must let your insurance provider know of these changes.
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Another issue faced with lowering a car is its ability to clear uneven road surfaces such as speed bumps. Over-lowering can also reduce the effectiveness of the way the car handles, putting the driver and passengers at risk.
The easiest way to make your insurance invalid is by adding spacers, may it be to increase ground clearance or to make your wheels have camber or fit bigger wheels, the moment an insurance inspector spots them that’s the end of the claim.
Removing and replacing seats, changing the pedals and the steering wheel are all considered to be key modifications. Sounds systems are popular modifications in the car. It might be as simple as a woofer in your car that will increase the value of your car. In case of any accidents it might be too expensive to pay for your car. In case the wiring modifications are not done properly they can be a fire hazard when wires short circuit. Some vehicles are modified to have an extra 110/220v electrical system for camping or in the case of long distance buses, if done without alerting your insurer, this can be used as a reason to dismiss your insurance claim.
Painting your car can cause you to lose your insurance. Most insurance companies do not allow you to paint your car in a different color from what is on the logbook, it’s also against the traffic act and in case of an accident they might not cover the damages because they do not recognize the new color. Many people are surprised to hear that custom paint jobs, decals, and stickers are also classed as a modification by insurance companies. As such, some people get caught out when they try to make a claim and discover their insurance is not valid. Insurance companies will not cover such modifications if they have had to pay a large sum of money because of such modifications because of stickers.
Gears can be modified to shorten the distance the lever has to travel between the gears. It is a popular modification that makes the shifts faster and gives it a sports action. Such modifications are made by young drivers and people who like to race. With that, the risk of getting into an accident increases translating to more times the insurance company has to pay for the damages.
Body kits are often added onto existing bodywork, or replace current bodywork, resulting in the safety of the car being compromised. For example: adding a bigger bumper to make it look unique or sporty. But bumpers are made with safety in mind, while body kits are not necessarily made to meet the safety standards required – sometimes crumbling under the tiniest of impacts. Modifications such as front and side skirts mean less ground clearance, and this can be hazardous on uneven roads. Most body kits tend to be made of fiberglass which makes them more likely to splinter in the event of a crash.
Before you perform any modification, be it major or minor, always refer to your insurer to know the extent to which you can modify your car without the risk of losing your insurance.