So you’ve decided to hit the open road to go snow skiing or visit the mountains during the summer months.
If you’re similar to a lot of people, you’ve decided to add a rooftop carrier before you leave to handle all of the extra equipment and suitcases you’ll need for the trip, or simply to store your gear on top of your vehicle so that more people can fit inside.
But before you install or even purchase that rooftop carrier, it’s a good idea to learn if this will affect your car insurance coverage and by how much.
Table of Contents
What Do Insurance Companies Require?
Any type of modification to your vehicle counts as far as the insurance company is concerned and this includes hitch or rooftop carriers. Simply put, whenever you make any type of changes to your vehicle, the insurance company must be notified.
If you don’t notify them and someone is somehow harmed as a direct result of this modification, the insurance company could quite possibly deny your claim. Even worse, they may even cancel your insurance policy altogether, which no one wants.
In fact, it is a better idea to notify your insurance company before you even purchase the carrier because some insurance companies will not cover certain types of rooftop carriers. If you purchase the carrier without first checking with the insurance experts, you will have wasted money in the process, possibly a lot of money.
Another advantage to notifying the insurance company before you make a purchase is that if they do not insure that type of carrier, it is very possible that they will insure another type. This means that you can go ahead and purchase a carrier type that they do insure after speaking with them, saving you a lot of headache and stress during the process.
Keep in mind that you also need to let the insurance company know about any and all modifications that you are considering, even those that seem very minor.
Invalidation of Your Current Insurance Policy
So in answer to the question of whether adding a roof box invalidates your insurance policy, the answer is “maybe.” If you do your part and notify the insurance company before installing the roof box and the insurance company approves the modification, you should have no problems filing a claim if something should go wrong in the future.
But the modification has to be documented in order to be valid so asking the insurance company to provide you with a new declarations page that shows the changes you’ve made is always a good idea. Essentially, any change to your vehicle that means that it is going to run differently or look different than it did when it came off the assembly line is considered a modification by the insurance company.
This includes not only adding roof or hitch carriers but also changes such as alloy wheels, leather upholstery, or even a satellite navigation system. If you’re unsure, contact the insurance company anyway. Their representatives will be able to tell you what is and isn’t considered a modification, enabling you to know for sure what to do next.
You should also keep in mind that all modifications have to be declared regardless of who made them. In other words, whether you install a roof rack or carrier yourself or a professional does it for you, it is still technically a modification and must be declared to the insurance company.
There should be no more installing sports seats or making changes to the engine and then not telling the insurance company about it. Indeed, they have to be notified about everything, no exceptions made.
The Law Is There for a Reason
Of course, when you think about it, this law is there for a very good reason. If something bad happens later on and it is directly related to the modification that was just made, the insurance company can choose to deny the claim if they didn’t know about the modification beforehand.
On the other hand, once you’ve declared the modification to the insurance company and it’s in writing, you have completed your responsibility to the insurer. This means that you’ll be fully covered if someone should become injured or harmed in any way due to that modification.
In essence, letting the car insurance company know about any modifications you’ve made to your vehicle is a way to protect yourself. It only benefits you to notify the insurance company when any type of modification to your vehicle has been made and it can give you great peace of mind from then on.
The insurance company may still try to deny the claim but if all changes have been made in writing, they won’t have a legal leg to stand on if it ever goes to court.
Do Modifications Cause Your Insurance Rates to Go up?
The next logical question regarding modifications is usually if these modifications will make my insurance rates go up? Some do and some don’t; it just depends on the modification itself. As a general rule, if your modifications make your car safer or less attractive to burglars, your insurance rates are likely to go down.
On the other hand, if the modifications make your vehicle stand out or make it easier for thieves to break into the car, your insurance rates could go up instead. As far as aesthetic modifications, which may or may not include a roof box or even a roof rack, your insurance rate can be affected either way.
In most cases, however, your rate shouldn’t increase by more than 5% but each insurance company is different. It is always best to check with the insurance company and let them tell you what the price increase will be, which will eliminate any misunderstandings from then on.
One of the things to keep in mind is that many modifications simply cost more whenever a claim is made, which is why they are often more expensive to insure. If the insurance company has to pay more to keep your vehicle running, the cost is naturally going to be passed on to you.
The increase or decrease also depends on how the insurance company decides to insure the vehicle. In most cases, insurers have to take out a supplemental insurance policy to cover the modifications. Only your particular insurance company can give you a more accurate estimate of how much your policy will go up or down.
A Few Final Thoughts
All of your questions concerning modifications such as rooftop carriers, including any concerns about the cost of your policy, can be directly addressed by your insurance agent or broker. If you’re already paying too much for your car insurance and you’ve decided that you want to shop around for another provider, there are websites that make comparing many different companies much easier on you.
In fact, even if you’re happy with your insurance company, it is never a bad idea to do some comparison shopping every now and then. It may save you some money and you’re likely to feel much better about the modification you just made.