Car Modifications - What’s Covered and What Isn’t?
Not every car owner gets a custom paint job, tints all their windows, modifies their suspension, or installs a sweet stereo system. But some do. Even if you’re not a complete car enthusiast you still may want to make a modification or two, and those mods cost money and time. Before you start modifying your car, ask yourself two questions:
What changes will your auto insurance cover? And what isn’t covered?
Each insurance company decides what they’ll cover and what they won’t. They set their own standards for what they consider a “modification.” Typically, this includes custom paint jobs, structural alterations, and significant performance increases. Not every modification you make will affect your Massachusetts auto insurance policy. Here are a few common changes that probably will:
- Adding chrome bumpers, wheels, and/or racing tires
- Adding vertical doors
- Adding fog lights
- Adding hood ornaments
- Adding rear and/or front spoilers
- Upgrading stereo equipment
- Adding accent lights under your car
When you make modifications to your vehicle, you have to notify your insurance company. If you don’t and you get into an accident, they may not pay the claim. Depending on the changes you’ve made, your policy could be voided completely.
Insurance Coverage for Modifications
A few changes may be covered by a standard auto insurance policy, but not all of them. Once you know what mods you’ll be making, call your insurance agent to discuss your coverage. You may need to purchase equipment coverage for the additional items you add to your car. Your agent may recommend collector car coverage if your modifications are extensive enough and qualify for coverage.
A common exception to any special coverage you may buy has to do with racing. Check your policy very carefully. Some policies completely disqualify your claim if the accident occurred while you were racing, even if it was a legal race. Other policies won’t cover an accident if you were on a racing track but not actually racing. If you intend to race your modified vehicle or just want to take it around the track, make sure you have a policy that covers you.
What Modifications Aren’t Covered?
Massachusetts has set clear guidelines for which modifications are legal and which are not. No insurance company will write a policy for a modification that violates state law. Which modifications aren’t allowed?
- Sound systems that increase normal sound levels by more than 10 decibels at the nearest property line.
- Mufflers designed or altered to amplify sound.
- Vehicles taller than 13 feet 6 inches.
- Red and/or blue flashing or rotating lights - these are only allowed on emergency vehicles.
- Spotlights that shine higher than two feet above the ground.
- Non-reflective tint anywhere other than the top six inches of a windshield.
- Window tint that doesn’t let at least 35 percent of light pass through
- Reflective tint that reflects more than 35 percent
All modifications you make must follow Massachusetts’ legal guidelines. In order to protect yourself and your vehicle from the high cost of an accident, make sure you know what your insurance company allows, too. If you’re looking for an auto insurance policy that covers the modifications you want to make, give us a call so that we can discuss the details.