You may not have given it a second thought, but if you’ve used a car wrapping company to get your car wrapped in a different colour to its original factory colour, will you have to inform your insurance company and/or tell the DVLA?

Well. despite a wrap only being a film of vinyl over your car’s original colour, you should indeed tell your car insurance company and the DVLA right away if you’ve just had the vehicle wrapped. This also applies for any ‘signwriting’ you’ve had done on a vehicle if it involves the same process as a wrap i.e. the application of your company’s logo or livery on a company car or van in the form of printed or plain colour vinyl film.

Why do I need to notify my insurance company and the DVLA?

If the above answer has you baffled as to why they’d want to know about any modifications to your vehicle, there are a few basic reasons to take into account which we’ll discuss briefly here:

1. Accident damage

Insurance companies, in particular, can be a bit finicky about any changes or modifications you make to your car as it can affect your annual premium. For example, imagine you’re involved in an accident that damages the bodywork/vinyl wrap. If you’ve haven’t told them that you’ve spent a chunk of money having your car wrapped and then try to claim for the cost of it to be replaced, they’ll most likely take a fairly dim view of it and refuse to cough up.

2. Void/discontinued insurance policy

To make matters worse, they can also claim that your insurance policy isn’t even valid because you didn’t tell them about the wrap in the first place. Why risk giving them a reason to invalidate the policy when you don’t need to? Some insurance companies can also refuse to continue your policy as soon as you let them know it’s been wrapped. Again, they’ll usually view car wrapping as a cosmetic change or ‘modification’ to the vehicle and some (albeit rarely) will say that they won’t continue to cover the car, so your policy is now void. If this turns out to be the case, you’ll have no alternative but to find a different company to insure the car.

Having said that, many insurers are more flexible, viewing a car wrap as a temporary change since it can be easily removed if required. As such, you may well find that there is no increase in your premium at all. It’s also worth mentioning that if you’ve booked us to wrap your car, we recommend contacting your insurer before we complete the job so you don’t get any nasty surprises later down the road. This will also give you some time to shop around and choose an insurer that’s not so rigid with their policy terms.

3. Car modification legalities & the law

Legal - Tell the DVLA and your insurance company about a car wrap
Legal – Tell the DVLA and your insurance company about a car wrap

Let’s start with a straightforward scenario; your car is stolen from outside your home and you want to notify the police. Once the police have the car’s registration number on their system, the all-important colour of the vehicle will be flagged on their system based on the information that’s logged about it with the DVLA. In particular, if your car is now wrapped in metallic blue despite the DVLA having it recorded as red, it’s possible that they’ll be looking for the wrong car.

The same applies if your car is stolen and then used in a crime e.g. the thieves fill it up with petrol and drive away without paying. The police won’t be happy that the recorded colour of the vehicle doesn’t match its actual colour. If you’re ever faced with a similar scenario, you should also inform the police of the original colour underneath as a car thief could remove all or some of the wrap to try and disguise the vehicle in order to evade capture.

If you visit this page of the Gov.uk website regarding making changes to a vehicle, the more eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed the caveat “must”… “You must update the details on your registration certificate (V5C)” it says. Not ‘may’ or ‘can’, but ‘must’. Specifically, the page mentions colour change as one of the factors they’ll need to be notified of. Don’t be alarmed though, it’s a simple process and once it’s done, you can cross it off your ‘to do’ list.

Summary

If you’re wrapping your car, you should notify the DVLA as soon as its done. You should also tell your insurance company in advance of your intentions so that you can confirm that your policy will still be valid afterwards.