A modified car insurance premium is usually higher than the normal one. Before modifying your car, it is best to take a look at how the changes can affect the cost of car insurance. But what kind of car modifications are we talking about here? Read below to find out!
Have you ever thought of pimping up your ride with new turbo engines? And change those boring car rims to the new custom ones? Although it is tempting to customise your car, you have to be aware that these modifications can affect your car insurance premium.
While you’re applying or renewing your insurance policy, it is important to let your insurer know that you have modified your car. Any attempt to make the car look nicer or perform better will not only increase its value, but also the risk of vehicle theft. By informing your insurance company, you can rest assured that your car will be fully protected. The insurance company will increase the insurance premium accordingly to ensure that every aspect of the modifications you made to the car is covered.
What is car modification and how does it affect car insurance?
Car modifications are the changes made to a personal vehicle. It can be any major or minor modifications that are done for aesthetic purposes or to enhance the car’s performance. Car insurance companies consider a car modified when you replace, add or remove a vehicle's parts or systems that are different to the manufacturer's original specifications.
Modifications to your car could increase the risks of theft. For example, a modified car with expensive parts like custom sport rims and a spoiler can be more attractive to thieves. The local authority once busted a syndicate that preyed on luxury car owners and sold the stolen car parts in the market. Since the purpose of your insurance coverage is to cover those risks, additional costs will be added to your premium.
What are the different types of car modifications?
Car modification can be divided into three main categories which are:
1. Performance modifications
Performance modifications are made to upgrade the car’s performance, which include:
- Brakes upgrade
- Transmission upgrade
- Suspension upgrade
- Exhaust system
The turbocharger spins up to 150,000 rotations per minute (rpm), which is about 30 times faster than an ordinary automobile engine.
2. Functional modifications
Functional modifications are done to change or add certain functions to the vehicle such as:
- Air conditioning system
- Navigation system
- Parking sensors
- Additional car lights
Not only will a GPS car tracker help navigate your journey, but you can also use it to trace a stolen car, allowing for faster recovery.
3. Aesthetic modifications
Aesthetic modifications are made to improve the appearance of the vehicle, these include:
- Front and rear bumpers
- Rooftop vents
- Paint jobs
- Underbody neon lights
- Tinted windscreens
- Back bumper reflector lights
- Tinted windows
Having your car repainted can be a good investment as it will add the resale value of your car. Common car colours like black, white and grey are easy to sell compared to bright colours like red, yellow and pink.
Modifications to private vehicles according to Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ) standards
Types of modifications that can be performed without JPJ approval
These modifications do not harm and ruin your car’s performance; hence, they’re legal as long as they adhere to the specified guidelines here.
1. Spoiler and side skirt installation
The purpose of spoilers and side skirts are to increase the vehicle's grip on the road by decreasing the aerodynamic drag.
2. Door visor installation
Door visors or also known as window deflectors are automobile accessories attached to the sides of the car windows to protect the inside of the car from rain.
3. Front/rear bumpers and bull bar installation
Bumpers and bull bars are the curved bars across the front of a vehicle. They protect the car from getting scratched or dented and prevent any physical damage to the car front.
4. Installation of larger rims and tyres
Modify your wheels with a custom set of stylish car rims.
5. Sunroof installation
Any parts that are installed to your car after the car was produced are called aftermarket items. You can get an aftermarket sunroof at any of the local workshops.
6. Roof rack installation
If you plan to go on an adventurous road trip and have bulky items like bicycles, canoes or kayaks to bring with, a roof rack allows you to put these objects on the roof without having to rent and drive a pickup truck.
7. Manual to automatic transmission change
If you’re tired of driving a manual car, it is possible to change it to automatic transmission instead of purchasing a new auto car.
8. Tonneau cover installation
A tonneau is used to cover the truck or cargo back. It protects the load and improves aerodynamics of the vehicle. (Image source: Auto Accessories Garage)
9. Side step and snorkel installation
A side step is located at the foot of the door to support people getting in and out of a vehicle. A snorkel is more useful for pickup trucks that often go on adventurous drives as it helps prevent water, dust and other microparticles from entering the engine.
10. Spotlight installation
A spotlight beam has the capability to illuminate the entire dark road ahead. It can be useful when you’re driving along a dark highway.
Types of modifications prohibited by JPJ
These modifications mostly involve major changes to the car’s performance and appearance, which can compromise road and car safety rules. Here are the modifications that you should avoid:
1. Body kit installation that changes the vehicle's identity
A body kit is a set of modified car body parts or additional components installed on the vehicle.
2. Inner roll cage installation
You will find an inner roll cage mostly in race cars. It is designed to protect the driver and passenger from being injured or killed in an accident.
3. High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights retrofitting
Retrofitting and modifying vehicles with HID lights can disturb the sight of other drivers on the road.
4. Changes to the drivetrain
The drivetrain is a group of vehicle parts that works with the engine to move the wheels and drive a car into motion.
5. Blinking lights installation (except for signal lights and hazard light)
These self-installed ambulance police lights can be easily purchased online. If you’re caught using them on the road by the authority, you could be fined. (Image source: AliExpress)
6. Any additional lights installation
A neon underglow will make your car look stunning, but you don’t want to get a ticket for that. (Image source: Urban Neon Car Lights)
7. Installation of rhythmic horns or two-tone horns
The public can be affected by the unnecessary loud sounds produced by these horns. (Image source: AliExpress)
8. Window tinting rules
The Ministry of Transport has issued updated window tinting regulations in Malaysia, which are as follows:
- Tinted window on windshield with tinting level limit of 70%
- Tinted window on rear windows with tinting level limit of 50%
What happens if you don't declare car modifications to your insurer?
As a policyholder, you are responsible to inform your car insurance company that you’ve modified your car. If you fail to do so, your policy could be void or invalid when you need to make a claim since you did not provide accurate information to the insurer. Be sure to declare at the point of application so there will be no issues when filing for claims later. If you have any doubts, it is always best to clarify with your insurer before getting your car modified.
Consider the pros and cons before modifying your car
Modifications enhance the overall performance of your vehicle, but only if they’re done legally. Prohibited modifications can adversely affect your car’s safety and performance. It’s best to seek help from experts because once the modifications are done, in most cases, there is no going back or you will probably end up wasting a lot of money.
The authority has the rights to issue summons for excessively modified cars, so make sure to read and understand the guidelines provided by the JPJ.