Car insurance is a very competitive industry in Ontario and it is mandatory to have your car insured. The type of vehicle and its features are important to determine the premiums. Any changes made to the stock version of a car could also affect the insurance rates. Some may modify their cars to use as a hobby vehicle. Or others may want their cars to perform better, as an example in a race track and change the engines.
With more Canadians driving modified cars, the enforcement has been cracking down on motorists with strict safety inspections. So, you may be pulled over for bigger tires than stock form and have been driving with those tires for over 5 years. The extent of modification to the car and the type of changes can affect the insurance premium. Any changes to body, frame, chassis or engine for better performance of the car is major for insurance purposes.
What Are Modified Vehicles
The most common major modifications that could affect insurance policies are as follows.
Any changes that were done to lower or heighten the vehicle affects insurance rates.This is a major change as the impact of the bumper in case of a collision varies as per height.
It could include having an expensive painting done on the car worth more than $10,000.
When the old exhaust starts to wear out you may get another aftermarket exhaust.
Rims & Wheels
Most insurers may insist that the tire sizes and rims match those as per the originals. There are also some who may not agree to settle the claim on grounds that the rims and tires were changed to a different version.
Most of the insurance companies do not agree to insure a car with major modified engines.
If there are any upgrades to brakes to include drilled or slotted discs, it may not go down well with the insurance company. This is due to changes in performance.
Minor changes that may not affect an insurance policy
There are many insurers who considers this a minor change as long as the cost is not over $5000.
There is no specified ratio of tint allowable for car windows but if you have all the windows tinted darker, that could be a problem too. You may be stopped for trying to obscure with tinted glasses and may have to pay a fine starting at $85 or more.
Why Is Insurance Expensive For Modified Vehicles
It is common to find that insurance for modified vehicles is not cheap. The reason for this steep cost is the fact that the modifications done to the car have made it unsafe on the roads. As an example, changing the engine features for more horsepower will lead to more speed that could cause a collision. Any changes done for better performance could prove dangerous on the roads. With high speed and performance, a collision could cause more fatalities and property damage.
If you decided to change some part for better safety then that could also increase the insurance rates too as now the car has more value. Another reason for high insurance rates could be that modified cars are an easy target for thieves.
Should You Disclose Car Modifications To Insurance Company
It is important to inform your car insurance provider about any changes to your car. The insurability of the car is one of the biggest factors that insurers look at. So, the contract that you sign with the insurance company includes your duty to disclose all material facts related to your car. If you make any changes during the term of the policy you are expected to inform your insurer about that. If you do not disclose changes done to your car, your insurance could be voided.
What Happens If You Hide Modifications to Vehicle
In the event of a claim, if your car was modified and the insurer was unaware, they could deny. You may be left with hefty expenses towards damages especially any third party claims. The terms by which each insurer treats the risk perceived may vary. So while tire or rim sizes may be ok with some insurers, for others that could mean a lot and refuse you coverage. It is a prudent idea to make a list of the modifications and give it to your insurance company rather than regret later when the claim is denied.
Modifications done to the car cannot be hidden forever as it will be evident during claims investigation. Also, the claims adjuster will look into all aspects of the collision and may decide that it was caused by the modification. It could also amount to fraud charges if the situation gets ugly with lawsuits.
What Are The Options For Insurance Of Modified Vehicles
There are not many companies in Ontario who provide insurance to modified vehicles. These are vehicles that have had major parts changed or modified for any reason. If you have modified your car it is possible for your insurance company to stop insuring you after a notice. But as an industry, the insurance market cannot leave you uninsured. There are a few companies in the residual market that provide coverage at high premiums for modified cars.
This option is available when you approach the Facility Association for car insurance. You may belong to a high-risk category and hence pay high premiums. It could also be required to get annual appraisals done for your modified vehicle. The policy you get through the Facility Association may have OPCF 19 endorsement that allows insurers to pay just the ‘actual cash value’ of the car and not the full value of the car. They would pay the lesser amount of the two options as claim settlement. There is more room for error on the policy wordings as the insurer may have to deal with the Facility Association and set up the policy for you.