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Is Your Vehicle’s Special Equipment Covered?

    3 minute read

    Custom Parts and Equipment Coverage or Special Equipment

    Many of us never significantly alter our cars, if at all. We may add bumper stickers or a new coat of paint, but the car will largely stay the same from when we buy it to when we trade it in.

    Some of us, though, will add equipment to our cars. These alterations can include things like:

    • sports modifications to improve the car’s aerodynamics

    • mobility modifications to make sure a disabled individual can be put into, or even drive the car

    • backseat televisions and video game systems to entertain passengers

    So, what happens if your car is stolen, and with it, the thousands of dollars of after-market equipment that has been installed?

    Will Your Modifications Be Covered?

    You should never assume that any modifications, especially after-market ones, are going to be automatically covered under your auto insurance policy. Most policies are written to cover the car as it was originally built by the manufacturer. So, how can you make sure your alterations are covered in the worst-case scenario?

    First and foremost, call your insurer, preferably before you make any modifications to your vehicle. For example, some engine modifications and other additions designed to increase speed and performance may substantially raise your premiums or even result in a cancellation or non-renewal due to the fact that they make your car more dangerous to drive. Ask any insurance agent, and they’ll tell you that speed kills. Insurance is about protecting you against risk, and making your car more dangerous means you’re exposing yourself, and your insurer, to much greater risk.

    Cosmetic and functional alterations, on the other hand, are a different matter. In these cases, the concern is less about the safety of yourself and others, and more about how the value of the car changes. For example, a wheelchair lift installed into a vehicle can substantially raise the car’s value, both due to the cost of the lift itself and because the car will hold more resale value over time. It’s not uncommon for vehicles with mobility modifications to command a higher price on the used car market.

    Modifying Your Insurance Accordingly

    How your insurance needs change will depend on the modifications, and there are some modifications your agent may actually recommend. For example, if you decide to install a Tracking device in your car, it may lower your insurance rates because it will reduce the chance of theft. Plus, if your car is stolen, it is easier to recover, meaning your insurer is exposed to less risk.

    white sports car with special equipmentEven with all that said, some modifications might not impact your insurance rates at all. If you decide to put a spoiler on the back of your car you should let your insurer know, but it may not have any impact on your car’s value or performance, and therefore your insurance rates may remain the same.

    In the end, how much the modification alters your insurance depends heavily on both your insurer and what you’re adding to your car. Certain modifications can require separate policies in order to be fully covered, and others can be incorporated into your existing policy. One thing you shouldn’t do though is leave your insurance company out of the loop; they can’t cover you or your car if they don’t know exactly what vehicle you are driving and if there have been modifications to it.

    Looking for auto coverage for your unique needs? Contact AIS, a California auto insurance agency. Tell us what you need, and we’ll help you find the best coverage for your vehicle.

    This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. The definitions, terms and coverage’s in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.