How Much Does Auto Customization Jack Up Insurance?

I live in California where car culture is still pretty strong and I’ve been thinking of having some auto customizations done to my Honda Civic; nothing too fancy - probably just rims, exhaust. I’ve heard that really jacks up insurance, though. Can anyone verify this from experience? If so, how much of a jump am I looking at? My driving record is impeccable so could it be pretty modest?

I don’t think I have heard of small custom stuff like that doing anything to insurance. I don’t think I’ve ever had to tell my insurance company or they’ve even asked.

There is insurance for custom cars and it can get pretty expensive but I believe that is in cases of the owner claiming the car is worth more or wants to cover the cost of replacing the custom work.

You don’t have to tell your insurer, sitchensis, but they won’t cover damage to any tuner parts if you don’t. Basically, what you said about the owner claiming the car is worth more.

FWIW, with Progressive you can enter the value of any modifications in your renewal/new policy application and the system will tell you how much additional that coverage will cost (if anything). I put in a $1200 APR reflash just out of curiosity when I bought this car and it added something like $3 per month.

I’m a respectable middle-aged man, though. If I was 21 it would probably have added eleventy billion dollars.

Cool, that’s good to know! I’m almost 40 so that’s not a big problem for me either. I also use Progressive so I guess I’ll just plug in the numbers at renewal time. Thanks!

No problem. Note that I’ve only used Progressive’s site to buy insurance in Florida. There’s a non-zero chance that they do it differently in California.

One of my cars was totalled by the insurance company a couple of decades ago. When I was sitting with the adjuster from State Farm, he mentioned an amount that they thought the car was worth. I pointed out that I’d added an aftermarket alarm/remote starter and had nearly new Bridgestone Blizzak tires (ironic, as I slid on black ice before flipping the car on the roof) on it. They increased the amount they paid out based on the increased value. So the lesson might be that you don’t need to do anything until and unless you have file a claim on the car.

That’s an option too, though it would really suck if they told me they wouldn’t cover mods because I hadn’t insured them!

I’m in California, as well.

After getting rear-ended on the motorcycle last year and feeling totally ripped off by the other driver’s insurance company and not accurately supported by my own insurer, I decided to find out why both insurers were consistently quoting me such a low pay-out amount*.

[First off, it’s worth realizing that the ‘value’ of your car plummets as soon as you drive it off the lot with all the paperwork signed. But ‘Replacement Value’ coverage is a different thread…]

I stumbled across some sites that talked about motorcycle appraising. The idea is that, if you’re the type who constantly maintains your vehicle and/or improves it with aftermarket parts, you may want to consider paying for ‘current value coverage’ and getting your machine appraised. The sites tend to recommend either 6-month intervals or after-each-pricey-upgrade, whichever is more frequent. Naturally, the appraiser should be one that is accepted by your insurer (and there’s apparently some industry accreditation involved). The appraiser (or appraisal company) charges a fee and sends their official appraisal paperwork to you and your insurer. If/when your motorcycle suffers some kind of damage, it is assumed the value is as high as the most recently received appraisal paperwork.

Once I get my bike fully back in shape (or better) I will strongly consider tacking on that extra coverage and working with an appraiser.

There are, of course, appraisers for automobiles, snowmobiles, planes, boats, art, et cetera – whatever can be insured, I suspect.
—G
*I also note that my own insurer offered about $1k more than the at-fault driver’s insurer offered.

I had custom wheels and tires stolen off a car. My insurance company would only spring for the cost of the factory original wheels, not the custom wheels. The agent also paid me for the “missing wheel covers” and lug nuts too. This gave me enough to buy the same wheels that were stolen. They did give me full retail for the upgraded tires though.

There are a lot of misconceptions about insurance to say the least. The premiums we pay are generally covering the depreciated value of the car, or more simply what it is actually worth right now. Not the new car cost at time of purchase, or the cost to replace it like for like. You CAN purchase policies for just about anything imagineable but they want to have it documented and appraised etc. The actual cost to do so is usually fairly reasonable too. Classic or custom guys are considered generally a good risk, because they take care of their rides.

It’s pretty different over here. Stick a decal on the wing and the insurance Co want to know about it, which usually means they up the premium. Put fat wheels on and you probably need to go to a specialist.

Cherished cars, do a lot better though. There is a club for most marques, and they have good deals with insurers. These are based on the principle that if you own one of these you will be a more careful driver.

The biggest problem is with young drivers. An 18yo with a mundane car, will expect to pay around £1,500 to £2,000, depending where they live. The result is that many of them take the chance and simply don’t get insured.

That’s because the biggest problem, is with young drivers. They don’t actually have to pay more for their insurance, it’s just that the older folks get a discount.

Thanks, guys, I actually learned an immense amount here. You can’t just Google this kind of information when you don’t know what questions to ask so I really appreciate your answers. It might be worth talking to an appraiser if I really start to put money into the customization but I’m starting out small. Definitely great to know I have options!