Can Your Car Insurance Refuse to Pay If You Modify Your Car?

by Gabrielle DeSantis

Tapping into the aftermarket side of car ownership is where the automotive fun really begins. But, can certain modifications allow your insurance to refuse to pay if you get in a crash? For a Subaru BRZ owner in Canada, that is what happened after his insurance used his modified exhaust as a reason to not pay after a crash. 

The Subaru BRZ is on view during the Subaru media conference at the 2015 New York Auto Show | DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images

Subaru BRZ owner gets denied coverage after modifying the exhaust

According to Global News Canada, A year ago, a 21-year-old man leased a 2020 Subaru BRZ and worked multiple jobs to pay the $500 a month. His insurance was no walk in the park either at $7,500 annually. 

Unfortunately, when he crashed the Subaru BRZ into another car in March, his insurance provider refused to pay for the repairs. The claim is said to have been over $35,000 in total, according to Modasir Ayobi, the BRZ owner. 

Can modifying your car affect your car insurance? 

Ayobi was determined to be at fault for the wreck but was not charged by his insurance company, Desjardins Insurance. However, Desjardins refused to pay for the damages because Ayobi has modified the Subaru BRZ exhaust without reporting it or asking for their permission. 

According to Global News, Ayobi paid nearly $2,000 for this custom exhaust for the BRZ soon after leasing it in 2020. He planned to put the factory exhaust system back on the BRZ at the end of his four-year lease. 

RELATED: Are Modifications Allowed on a Leased Car?

Car mods often do one of two things (and sometimes both); a modification is typically meant to change the way a vehicle looks/sounds or performs. Some higher-end mods can do both, like a sport exhaust system or aero body kits, for example. 

Most proper mods will help a vehicle perform better in some specific way. If done right, a lift on a truck will increase ground clearance, allowing it to perform better off-road. In this case, the exhaust was probably both louder and added a small bump in horsepower. 

Altering your car’s performance can definitely get you in hot water with the insurance company if you aren’t clear on your particular plan. Ayobi said, “If I knew modifications would affect insurance, I wouldn’t have done that.” 

How common is it for people to modify their cars? 

According to CarScoops, the aftermarket parts business is a multi-billion dollar industry. People love to modify their vehicles, from adding power to a Honda Civic to adding heated grips to a motorcycle. The problem is most people might not know that their insurance might get grumpy about certain mods. 

Upon ensuring the BRZ, Desjardins has a statement within the paperwork that speaks directly to this issue. 

RELATED: A $1.5 Million Ferrari F40 With No Insurance Totaled On Final Drive Before It Sold

The document reads, “Your vehicle is considered to be modified if it has been changed in any way from its original condition in order to improve or alter its performance, appearance or increase its value. If you make or plan to make modifications to your vehicle, contact us to make certain we are able to insure you properly.” 

It turns out that not only did the insurance company not cover the crash, but they also dropped his coverage all together. 

All’s well that ends well

Global News reached out to Dejardins to inquire about the harsh reaction to Ayobi’s claim. After the contact, Dejardins reviewed the claim and changed their tune. Ayobi’s crash is now fully covered. 

Although it ended up working out for Ayobi, be aware that any modification you make to your car can put you at odds with insurance. It is always worth a call to your insurance provider before making any major mods. 

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