Americans love modifying their cars, whether we want to add some creature comforts, building a track day toy, explore off-road trails or just have something that looks cool. What happens when your modified car is involved in an accident? Is the damage covered by insurance? How do performance and appearance parts affect collision repair? Can modifications really void your insurance? Here’s what you need to know to make sure the damage is covered, and the body shop can get the repairs done quickly.
Will My Insurance Cover the Damage?
A standard insurance policy will only cover damage to OEM components or their equivalent replacements. Even if you have a common upgrade like a new stereo head unit, you may need to pay part or all the repair or replacement cost out of pocket. In some cases, the insurance company may cover part of the replacement cost up to the value of the original part.
Modified car plans will cover a certain amount of damage for customized parts above the price of the vehicle. There’s even specialized insurance for mobile A/V equipment so you’re covered if someone tries to steal your aftermarket stereo.
Companies that modify new cars are often named as the manufacturer, so you are insuring the car as it came out of that shop. For example, if you have a Roush Mustang, you’re insuring it as a Roush and all the modifications are covered. However, if you buy an upgrade from Roush and install it, those parts aren’t covered.
Collector car insurance will often cover modified parts up to a certain amount. This flexibility is due to the common use of non-OEM parts that improve performance and drivability, ranging from electronic ignitions to crate engines. Be sure to read the fine print and make sure you have enough coverage for both the parts and labor if you’re in an accident. You may have done the restoration yourself, but you probably don’t want to spend the time fixing everything all over again after a collision.
Whatever the case may be, keep your insurance agent in the loop about any current or planned modifications to your car so you can be sure you have the coverage you need.
In extreme cases, your insurance coverage may be voided. This can happen if the company can clearly prove that the modifications were at fault for the accident.
What if I Want to Race or Go Off-Road?
If you start modifying your car, at some point you’ll want to test it out on a road course, drag strip or dirt trail. Standard insurance won’t cover your vehicle, but there are companies that offer coverage for both you and your car for track days and off-road driving. If you autocross your daily driver, a full year of racing coverage may only set you back a few hundred dollars, while coverage for a single exotic car at a competitive event can be staggering. Depending on the event, coverage may be provided by the promoter and included with your entrance fee.
Limited off-road coverage is included in some standard policies, but it pays to read the fine print. Like racing, there are off-road specific plans that can be added to your on-road insurance.
Non-competitive track time is almost always outside of standard insurance coverage, even if you’re only there as part of a parade around the track.
If you’re using a trailer or you’re bringing tools with you, you may want to consider additional coverage for these items.
Making Damage Repair Easier for Your Modified Vehicle
For the most part, repairing collision damage to a modified car is no different from repairing a stock car. For example, if you have a fiberglass body kit, cracks and chips can be repaired like any other fiberglass component.
To save time, document your modifications. If the shop needs to get an aftermarket part, it’s much easier for them if you can tell them exactly what you fitted to the vehicle. If you notify your insurance company about the parts you added, it will be easier for the appraiser to get the work approved.
Expect repairs to take longer due to shipping. Stock parts are readily available through local sales channels, but the nearest aftermarket replacement may be across the country.
No Matter What You Drive, We Can Repair It
Merton Auto may be one of the oldest body shops in Wisconsin, but we keep up-to-date with the latest equipment and techniques. We’re an I-CAR Gold Class Certified Shop staffed with ASE Certified technicians, and we have an auto body estimation center that can work with your insurance company on adjustments. When you’re looking for Lake Country collision repair, turn to us: we’re located in the heart of Waukesha County, just a short drive from Pewaukee and Highway 164.