After writing recently about whether you need to tell your insurance company if you’ve had your car wrapped, it got us thinking about other scenarios where it’s advisable to tell your insurer about any modifications to your vehicle. After a brief bit of research, we came across the surprising discovery that even installing a sat-nav could be considered a “vehicle modification” that you’ll need to inform them of.
To make matters worse, if you don’t let them know, it could invalidate your insurance AND you could also be fined up to £2,500 if it’s deemed that the satnav led to a “dangerous driving” offence. What this means is that if you’re involved in a prang, you could be digging deep into your own pocket to fund the repairs yourself as well as having a costly legal battle on your hands.
Will a non-factory fitted satnav invalidate my insurance?
As indicated above – Possibly, yes. If your insurer deems the satnav as a modification that they weren’t made aware of, it could well give them a sufficient reason to refuse to cough up if you make a claim since the car would be different from its original specification. They can also justify it by saying that your premium would have been increased if they’d known about it; implying a technical underpayment on your policy would make it invalid.
Will I be OK if I tell my insurance company first?
If you’re going to take anything from this article, it’s that you should tell your insurer about ANY modification to your car if for no other reason than to ere on the side of caution and play it safe. You may well find that your annual insurance premium doesn’t increase at all and even if it does, it’s not likely to be by a huge amount, plus you’ll have the added peace of mind knowing that you’re covered. The problem is that different insurance companies have different terms so there are no hard and fast rules; each case is different.
Read the small print
If you’re the thorough type that likes to dot your ‘I’s and cross your ‘T’s, then have a good read of all the information you were sent at the start of your policy. If you’re like the vast majority of us who simply flick through it and put it in a drawer then you won’t know about all the nuances of your policy. However, if you can invest the time to do this first, you’ll have a much better understanding of what your insurer expects from you and what modifications you can and can’t make. It’ll also help you to avoid any nasty surprises regarding any other rules that you may not have otherwise been aware of. For example, some insurers have rules about car colour changes, tinted windows (which we’ll write more about soon), alloy wheels and even driving your friends around in your car!
If you have been caught with your pants down and your insurer invalidates your policy for something you consider to be trivial (like a satnav install), you may face an uphill struggle to get reinsured. This is because you’ve technically been “refused insurance” and is something you’ll have to declare when getting a quote for a new insurance policy. It’s also likely that your premium will increase as a result since you’ll be seen as less trustworthy.
Fines while driving
Whilst we’re at it, here’s an extra bit of useful info regarding driving when you’re using a satnav to zip your way around town. You could also be fined or end up with penalty points on your licence for using a sat-nav in some scenarios. For example, if it’s one of those sat-navs that’s stuck on with a rubber sucker and it’s placed right in the middle of the windscreen, the police may decide that it’s obscuring your view of the road in which case you could be in for more grief in the form of a £100 fine right there and then (an “on the spot fine”) together with 3 penalty points on your driving licence. They may well cite The Highway Code which says that your windscreen must be “free from obstructions” at all times so you have a clear view of the road ahead and any objects around you.
If you decide you don’t agree and challenge the conviction but subsequently lose, this figure could rise to £1,000 or even as much as £2,500 if they’re trying to prosecute you for dangerous driving too – This will, of course, also lead to an increase in your premium next time around – Ouch!
You may not like it, you may think it’s dumb, but it’s a fact that not telling your insurer about a satnav installation could invalidate your insurance policy. So, put your mind at rest and give them a call to let them know… and remember that “calls may be recorded for training and quality purposes” 🙂