How Does My Customized Vehicle Affect My Car Insurance Rate?
As cool as it may be, your customized vehicle is a bit of a problem for the car insurance companies. “Custom,” of course, means your car is one-of-a-kind. The insurance companies like to provide coverage for vehicles that are one-of-many-thousands.This example will show why the insurance companies have trouble with custom cars.
Let’s say Ted owns a stock 2009 Chrysler 300M and you own a heavily modified version of the car. You’ve repainted it in a chameleon-like color that changes with the light. You’ve installed aftermarket parts, including a special grill and headlights.Both of you get in wrecks that smash the front of your cars. Ted’s 300M is fixed easily by one of dozens of auto-repair shops okayed by his insurance company. They order factory parts for those that are damaged and repaint a section of the car with the original factory paint.
You, on the other hand, need parts that can’t be retrieved from the nearest dealership. They’ll have to be special-ordered. But the company that made the grill and headlights is out of business. So is the shop that painted your car that chameleon shade. And the shop that would do the repainting says it can’t just do a section of the car – the whole car has to be repainted so it matches. (This actually happened to a car owner – the new paint job cost $12,000.)
A couple of weeks later, Ted is back behind the wheel of his repaired car. Yours is still at the shop as you and the insurance company negotiate a solution, and the body shop tries to find replacement parts and a simpler way of addressing the paint problem .
Creative Insurance Solutions, but at a Price
So that’s the potential scenario the insurance company must consider when they write your policy. And now you will too. Not surprisingly, many insurance companies are reluctant to get into covering anything beyond the car’s original equipment and maybe slightly above that. The companies learned their lesson when people started installing $5,000 worth of rims on their cars and wanted their insurance to pay for replacements when the spendy rims were stolen.
You could just take the risk yourself and “self-insure” – that is, put some money aside regularly in case you have a wreck. You also could buy one of two versions of extended coverage. One, called “agreed value” coverage, means you’ll be repaid for a price above what it would cost to replace the stock version. The other, called “stated value” coverage, provides the agreed value minus depreciation.
Your independent insurance agent can help you determine the best way to protect your customized car. Besides the costs, you’ll want to discuss any exclusions the policies might have. For example, some companies won’t cover “racing equipment.” You’ll have to figure out what parts of your car the company would consider “racing” before you sign the contract.
There’s some good news when it comes to customized vehicles. Due to the popularity of television shows such as “Pimp My Ride” and “West Coast Customs,” more customized cars are on the streets now than before. So the insurance companies may be more likely to adjust their pricing practices to accommodate them.
You may never be able to get your customized car back on the road after an accident as fast as Ted or other owners of stock models. But with the right insurance coverage, at least you’ll avoid the headache of repayment. At Anderson & Anderson Insurance, we take great pride in helping our customers insure their cars, whether they are stock models or tricked-out customs. Give us a call and we can help you today.