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Why you need to tell your insurer if you install a roof rack or make other car modifications

Thinking about installing a roof rack on your car for bikes or skis, or modifying your vehicle in another way? Always inform your insurer before you make any changes to your vehicle. Modifications can impact your insurance if they alter the vehicle’s safety, increase the likelihood of an accident or increase the value of the vehicle. Here are a few things you need to know about the various types of vehicle modifications.

Functional improvements

You may want to add a roof rack, ski rack or a bike rack to your vehicle to transport your belongings and sporting equipment. Even though these seem like minor changes, check with your insurance broker before installing. Make sure to confirm if these modifications will impact your insurance policy by increasing the value of the vehicle or impacting its safety. 


If you modify your vehicle to make it more accessible, such as adding a wheelchair lift, hand controls or customized seats, the value of your vehicle could increase. Before installing accessibility features, chat with your insurance broker to make sure your current policy will cover the full value of your vehicle with the modifications. Make sure to keep your receipts from the modification, so that you have a record of how much it cost in case of a claim.


Appearance modifications such as a new paint job or decal banner typically will not impact your insurance policy, unless they are determined to increase the value of the vehicle. However, you still need to inform your insurance broker if you’re changing your car’s appearance so they can determine if you are properly insured for the added value of the upgrades.

Safety or security

Some aftermarket safety features may help to lower your premiums, as they can increase the safety of your car. If you’re installing an enhanced braking system, security system, alarm or a steering wheel lock, check with your insurer to see if you’re eligible for a discount. 

Performance enhancing

Your insurance policy may not cover modifications that enhance performance, such as boosting horsepower. These modifications will likely put your vehicle at a higher chance of being involved in a collision, so you may need to find an insurer who specifically insures enhanced cars and is willing to take on that risk.

Additionally, some modifications such as nitrous oxide, under-body lighting and dark window tinting are illegal in some areas. If the modifications you want to install are illegal in your province, you will have a hard time finding an insurer to cover illegal modifications. To ensure your vehicle modifications comply with the law, you can review the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.

Not informing your insurer of a vehicle modification can be reason to deny an insurance claim or cancel an insurance policy, so make sure you talk with your insurer before modifying your vehicle in any way Always have a professional inspect your modifications to ensure that they have been installed properly and do not compromise your safety.

If you have questions about a modification to your vehicle and how it could impact your insurance coverage, call an OTIP broker today at 1-800-267-6847.

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