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When Christian minister Reverend Wena Parry plastered her car with religious slogans, she had no idea she would fall foul of her insurers’ rules governing vehicle modifications.
Rev Parry, 75, from South Wales, simply wanted to show her devotion to Jesus to as many people as possible when she paid £120 to have the bonnet and sides of her Vauxhall Zafira emblazoned with “Christ for me”, “Christ must be Saviour” and “Christ is my Lord”.
But when she made a claim, and sent in pictures of her car to support it, insurers Ageas (via broker Age UK) told her they would not have insured the car had they known of her religious stickers and could void her policy.
While Rev Parry, a Minister in the Independent Congregational Church, claims the insurers had a “religious motive”, Ageas denies this, saying: “These modifications do not fit our acceptance criteria for motor insurance. Cover would have been declined if we had been made aware of these at the time of purchasing your policy.”
Here at Adrian Flux, we are well-versed in the whys and wherefores of insuring modified vehicles and, while Rev Parry’s stickers don’t make her car go any faster, they still count as a modification in the eyes of many insurers and should be disclosed.
Gerry Bucke, general manager at Flux, which specialises in providing cover for all types of modified vehicles, had sympathy for Rev Parry’s plight.
“I’d imagine a huge number of people aren’t aware that they need to declare large vehicle decals of this type to their insurer – they think of modifications and they think of boy racers with full body kits, tuned engines, lowered suspension and the like,” he said.
“But the term ‘modifications’ covers anything that differs from how your vehicle left the factory, and some insurers simply want nothing to do with anything that is classed as non-standard, however minor the modification may seem.
“We certainly don’t believe there was any religious element to the insurer’s decision – it would have been the same had Rev Parry’s car been emblazoned with dragons or flowers.
“But this situation definitely highlights that we need to make sure that people know what constitutes a modification so that motorists don’t unwittingly have this kind of problem.”
So, what is a modification and how does it affect your premium?
Most insurers class a modification as anything which is different to the manufacturer’s standard specification.
Here are six other things you may not know are classed as modifications, which must be declared but will probably not affect your premium:
- A conversion to allow your car to run on LPG – fine
- An after-market sports steering wheel
- After-market tow bar
- Wider tyres
- Fitting of parking sensors
- After-market alloy wheels
Additional premiums are usually charged for modifications that increase the power of the vehicle, but can also be charged if modifications increase the risk of theft or malicious damage, and can include:
- Fitting of an after-market turbo
- Non standard paint respray
- Suspension changes of springs and dampers
- Exhaust system changes
- Fitting of a full body kit
- “Chipping” the engine’s computer to increase power
So to avoid insurers potentially refusing claims, voiding cover or refusing to renew your policy, make sure you let them know of any changes at all to the maker’s standard specification. It will save you trouble in the long run and there’s a good chance it will not cost you a penny in extra premiums.
Get a modified vehicle quote from Adrian Flux, or call 0800 369 8590 free from a landline, or 0330 123 1232 from a mobile.