Car doctor | How 'pimping your ride' could affect your vehicle insurance - what you should know

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Custom Toyota 86
Custom Toyota 86
Matty Media

There are countless ways you can modify your car but one thing all car modifications have in common is that they will affect the price you pay for your car insurance, says Wynand van Vuuren, client experience partner at King Price Insurance. 

There are countless ways you can modify your car. A paint job, engine mods to make your car go faster, or other features that make your car more safe and secure. Either way, one thing all car modifications have in common is that they will affect the price you pay for your car insurance. 

For many South African drivers, putting your own stamp on your car is a must. But before you hit the road with a free-flow exhaust, a new body kit, low-profile tyres, and custom rims, make sure you've told your insurer, or you might find yourself in a tight spot when it comes to claiming time.

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When it comes to pimping your ride, not all modifications are equal. Some may not affect your insurance premium much – like a custom paint job or a set of mag wheels, for example. Other add-ons, like dash cameras and tracking devices, might even reduce your monthly premium. But anything that affects the car's performance must be disclosed.

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There are plenty of after-market extras and modifications that you can do to your car that are seen as extras, like a high-end sound system, that actually increase the value of your vehicle and must be included in your monthly premium. By the same token, anything you do that changes the vehicle's performance, like an after-market turbocharger or dropping the suspension, will influence the risk and must be disclosed.

And if you're going to get extreme and install nitrous oxide cylinders in your Vrr-pah (VW Golf GTI), you won't only make yourself uninsurable, but you might find yourself on the wrong side of the law as well. Extreme modifications that affect the safety of other road users, including radically-lowered suspension or oversized wheels, could render your vehicle unroadworthy.

There's a clear onus on you to inform your insurer of any modifications you make to your car, as they may affect the risk and the premium payable. A simple rule of thumb is to tell your insurer about anything that didn't come standard on the car, from wheels to sunroofs to new sound systems. That way, you'll know what's covered and what isn't if the worst happens.

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