Insurance is one of the most vital parts of owning a car. Too often, an owner can ignore it until they actually need it for some repair work. At which point, they realize their car may not fall under some of the policy’s rules and put the owner on the hook for a big bill. A major problem has been the rise of car modifications and too many owners will ignore how much changes to their cars can affect their insurance.
Most companies are perfectly okay with such things as new tires, a Bluetooth stereo, new wipers, and some engine work. They can even look the other way on a few changes in the body that boosting up how a car looks. However, more serious mods are totally ignored by car insurance companies because they can simply be way too much for them to cover.
Most of the time, it has to do with how the mod can affect a car’s performance. Something that runs the risk of ruining an engine or causing an accident makes the car a risk. Other times, it’s a mod that makes the car look flashier, which makes it an easier target. Obviously, something that basically transforms a car’s entire frame is frowned upon and makes it much harder to get insurance. Companies will seriously raise the premiums for some of these modifications and may just flat-out refuse to cover others. It’s vital to read your insurance policy closely before engaging in a modding project to make sure it’s properly covered.
Here are 20 mods that will make your car uninsurable if you get caught.
20 Rolling Coal
Thankfully, this isn’t a popular mod given just how terrible it is. Some car owners want to seriously show off how powerful their engines are by increasing the diesel output—to the point that smoke billows out in huge plumes. They even outfit the car with pipes that should belong to a big rig truck. This can cost up to $5,000 and it seriously hurts the environment, as well as making it harder for other drivers on the road. Given all these issues, it’s no surprise car insurance companies will refuse to cover this mod. Rolling coal fans should enjoy their ride because it’s costing them dearly just to brag about how much smoke the car can create.
19 Roll Cages
As odd as it sounds, even some modifications that are meant to enhance safety are often not covered by insurance companies. Roll cages are a major example. This mod is growing in popularity and it involves welding a secondary frame within the interior of a car. The idea is that if the car is in an incident, such as flipping over, the cage will help strengthen the chassis and absorb the damage. Insurance companies will jump to the conclusion that anyone who needs this must do a lot of risky driving. They will refuse to cover such a car as well. This safety move can actually ruin an owner’s insurance easily.
18 Roof Rack
Here’s another modification that can vary depending on the type of car. If the roof rack comes from the factory (as with many trucks or jeeps), then the insurance company has no issue with it. However, welding a rack onto the top of a sedan or other car is generally frowned upon. These types of mods can affect the balance of a car and reduce performance. It’s also tricky given what is carried on the rack. Clearly, a car with several bicycles on its roof will be viewed as a risk on a highway and insurance carriers are wary of the damage they can cause with just some loose cables. Unless it’s factory approved, a roof rack is a mod to avoid for insurance reasons.
17 Nitrous Oxide System
Nitrous oxide has become a popular mod for a lot of car owners. It’s usually used by those who want to turn their vehicle into a serious racing machine and it does help. True, it’s not the “rocket fuel” the movies like to portray it as. But a good nitrous system can transform an okay car into a speedster. However, it can also damage the engine system of a car if done incorrectly. That makes it a lot harder to get insurance, as just adding in a NOS system indicates you’re doing some major racing, which makes you much more likely to get into an incident. Nitrous is a good way to speed up losing your insurance.
16 Fancy Rims
The reason why car insurance companies won’t cover fancy rims is pretty obvious: too many owners love to put on the gaudiest, flashiest, and most expensive rims possible. Everything from sci-fi themes to comic books are fair game. It’s become a game of “can you top this” in making rims look terrific. The problem is that doing this is like putting out a sign begging for wheels to get lifted. Nothing attracts unwanted eyes like fancy rims and it becomes a game to boost the best they can find. Most insurance companies will refuse to cover these types of rims because of the high likelihood of them being ripped off. They may look nice but a fancy rim is also a giant insurance no-no.
15 Huge Additions
Here’s a pretty obvious modification many insurance companies won’t cover. One of the odder mods has been adding on major sections of a car to change its size: SUVs turned into tractor trailers, sedans becoming limos, and so forth. Obviously, these heavy modifications can instantly disqualify a car with an insurance company. The larger ones have problems handling themselves on the road due to their size, which makes them a huge risk for other cars. There are also countless issues involving the changes in tires, exhaust, electrical systems, and more. Any time a car is cut apart and welded to make a bigger frame makes it far more uninsurable.
14 Extra Headlights
It might sound as if insurance companies would enjoy a safety feature like extra headlights. It would seem logical that the better a driver sees on the road, the more they will avoid the risk of accidents. In reality, these modifications are frowned upon for altering the car’s frame and the electrical systems too much for companies to be able to cover. Repair work on extra headlights is naturally more expensive than on a regular set and some insurance carriers won’t cover that cost. Even if they’re not outfitted with stuff like fake eyelashes, extra headlights may not be covered. As odd as it may sound, doubling on a safety feature actually hurts a car’s insurance rating.
13 Super Stereos
It’s one thing to have a simple sound system in a car. The problems begin with the owners who want to turn their cars into full-on concert stereos. The most obvious are the cars whose trunks are outfitted with massive speakers and subs more fitting for a nightclub. It’s not just about how this can be a distraction for the driver. The bigger issue is that these speakers, often in plain sight, paint a huge target on a car. An expert can strip the speakers bare in minutes and thus, the sound system makes the car a major risk to insure. Wanting good tunes is fine but the louder a car is can make it harder to insure.
12 Enhanced Exhaust Systems
The exhaust system is another modification some car insurance companies can frown upon. It does depend on how much work is done and whether it helps or hinders the car. Companies may be okay with a system that lowers the sound and enhance performance. What they don’t like are the mods that make a car sound far louder than it should, look like a rocket, and affect the entire engine. It harms the car’s performance, it makes repair work so much harder, and it can be a danger to other cars. While some exhaust enhancements can get a pass, others can make a car uninsurable by most companies.
11 Spiced Up Engines
Thanks to the Fast and Furious movies, many drivers are out to try and transform their cars into superior machines. The obvious problem is that not every car can handle the massively tuned engines required to make these racers work. Likewise, trucks are affected by what kind of things are done to their engines. A few insurance companies will outright disqualify a car if it does a full engine overhaul or replacement that doesn’t match the car's make and model. Others may be more lenient but still raise the premiums in a big way on such a change. And that's not to mention that it makes the car a bigger target for anyone wanting a fast machine for a joy ride.
10 Tinted Windows
This can be tricky. Many cars today do come with windows already tinted and as an existing condition, that is covered by the insurance. However, some modders to overdo the windows when they get tinted on their own. The problem can be if the tint is done wrong, it makes it more difficult for the driver to see the road, especially at night. Anything that can hamper the safety of the car passengers or other drivers is automatically a huge risk for insurance companies. Some outright ban any tinting while others insist it be done to a specific degree. It’s important to check on which tint is okay before it throws too much shade on your policy.
9 Massive Spoilers
Many cars do come with spoilers attached and those are covered. Other times, an insurance company won’t be too upset over a small spoiler being put on. However, too many car owners choose to put on spoilers that are way too large and that are a bad size for the car’s frame. A good spoiler can help the car’s performance but a bad one can make it slower. It also hurts the overall appearance and can make it a target. The worse are the guys who think it’s fun to have spoilers of ridiculous height and width, and those can become a risk to other drivers. Please forgive the pun but this truly can spoil your insurance standing majorly.
8 Extreme Raising Or Lowering
This is one of the mods that’s popular when showing a car off but seriously affects the performance. Some owners can raise a car’s body up to roughly ten feet higher than it should be. Others lower it to the point that the frame is scratching the road. Either way, changing the ride height hurts insurance premiums majorly. For the extreme cases, an insurance company will refuse to cover a car that appears to be barely off the ground at all. Also, a very high lift runs the risk of hitting items from trees to poles that a normal car wouldn’t. The only thing “raised” by changing a car’s elevation is how unlikely you are to get insurance for it.
7 Gaudy Interiors
Most mods focus on the exterior of the car and how it looks for passersby. Underrated are the mods that transform the interior of the car. A lot of owners love to remake the interior to look like anything from the inside of a fighter jet to a classic 1950s car. These are a lot of modifications that often undo the original interior of the car and interfere with some of the systems. That’s especially true for interiors that use a lot of chrome or other flashy materials. An insurance company may care about a car’s exterior or performance but transforming the interior is just as important to them. As always, remaking a car in any way can damage the insurance majorly.
6 Stanced Wheels
No one is sure how this mod began but it’s taken off. The idea is to “slant” the wheels of the car to always be at an angle. This results in turning a regular car into something out of a cartoon. One look should make it obvious why an insurance company would refuse to cover it. Having wheels at that angle throws off the suspension and makes it much harder for a car to handle curves and turns. It’s a danger not just to the car itself but others on the highway. If a car owner wants to ensure their car gets no insurance, few mods can do the trick like making the wheels look so terrible.
5 Wood Parts
This has become a rather popular mod in the last few years. For a short-term solution, replacing a bumper or fender with a wooden slat is an okay mod until real repairs can be made. Some drivers take it to the next level by replacing their doors, hoods, or roofs with wooden parts. Some even go as far as to make half the car’s body out of wood. It does look stylish but it’s a nightmare to get insurance on. Obviously, wood is nowhere near as durable as metal, which means damage from even the elements is quite likely. Adding wood to the car is already a poor mod but it also can make a car uninsurable quite easily.
4 Fender Flares
A standard wheel arch is a good idea for your car. Given all the abuse from dirt, mud, and countless other particles on the road, protecting the wheels is a good idea. However, the type of arch chosen can affect insurance. Getting an arch and flares that don’t quite fit the wheel type can be seen as too much of an alteration for the insurance companies to cover. Some flares are picked more for how they look than their actual performance, which is another thing insurance companies aren’t fond of. It is important to ensure whether a policy covers a specific fender flare setup or if protecting the wheels might cost the driver majorly on premiums.
3 Major Paint Jobs
This may not sound like a big deal but it is. A huge and gaudy paint job actually makes an insurance company suspicious that the owner is covering up some scratches or dents that weren’t reported. Most paint repairs aren’t covered in policies at all unless they come about as part of a serious incident. Even then, it’s an issue because a truly outrageous paint job can aid in the car becoming a target. Plus, it can affect the car’s overall appearance which is something that comes into consideration for insurance people. It’s a good idea to go over your insurance forms before embarking on a huge paint job to make sure a new color won’t hurt your policy.
2 Body Kits
This is one of the most obvious modifications you can make to a car. It doesn’t matter what kind of kit, whether it’s plastic, carbon, fiberglass, Polyurethane, or any combination, a body kit is a serious alteration to someone’s car. As a result, any modification will automatically affect the insurance. The worst are the kits that transform your car to look like another type. There’s no way a company can insure a car that barely resembles the model it started off as. Mod users adore the ways they can turn a car into something else but it’s a huge blow to their premiums and makes an insurance company wary.
1 Alloy Wheels
One would think getting tougher wheels would improve your insurance. Instead, alloy wheels can hurt it badly. A regular set of alloy wheels won’t be too big a deal. The issue is if the driver chooses to upgrade them and deck them out to stand out more. That’s because they can be seen as an easy target on the street. Indeed, alloy wheels are much “hotter” to nab than regular tires and make for a great piece for attracting unwanted attention. Alloy wheels can look fun but their tendency to make a car stand out is a major reason why they can make a car much harder to insure.
Sources: Car Throttle, Reddit, and Jalopnik.