Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Installing wheelchair access to your car will ramp-up insurance premiums MORE than fitting a loud exhaust or boy-racer bodykit . . .


Installing wheelchair access to your car will ramp-up insurance premiums MORE than fitting a loud exhaust or boy-racer bodykit

  • A wheelchair lift will force the average premium up by 69 per cent
  • Of all car modifications, only adding a turbo to the engine will increase insurance costs more
  • Under the Equality Act 2010, insurers are not allowed to charge more
  • Loopholes still allowing insurance companies to treat disabled drivers as 'mainstream risks'
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Enormous rear spoilers, fire-spitting exhausts, race-car-like roll cages - all of these car modifications will have a LESSER impact on your car insurance costs than if you have wheelchair access added to your vehicle, new data has revealed.

In fact, having a wheelchair lift, clamps and straps fitted to your car will increase your insurance premiums by an average of 69 per cent - more than almost any other modifications you can make, comparison site MoneySuperMarket.com has exposed.

Only turbocharging the engine in your motor has a bigger impact on the amount of insurance you pay than having disabled access as insurers continue to treat disabled drivers as 'mainstream risks' despite equality laws in place to prevent this.

Ramping-up insurance premiums: Those requiring wheelchair access to their vehicles will face higher insurance premium spikes than someone who fits a loud exhaust or engine tweaks to improve performance

Of all the modifications listed by the insurance comparison website, only adding parking sensors and a tow bar to your vehicle will see your premiums fall, by 13 and 26 per cent respectively.

Surprisingly, other 'functional' car modifications have the reverse impact on the amount you pay for car insurance, with adding a sunroof deemed worthy of an average premium increases higher than having all the windows in your vehicle tinted.

Even converting a car to run on LPG sees an average premium spike of 15 per cent, while fitting a roof rack will push the average policy eight per cent higher, the stats revealed.

But it's the impact of making a car wheelchair accessible that's most shocking of all.

As the table showcases, having wheelchair clamps, straps or a lift added to a vehicle sends insurance costs spiraling by a gob-smacking 69 per cent.

How modifications compare: Accessibility for wheelchairs has the second highest impact on insurance costs

Car modifying is still popular in the UK, and most of the changes you make to a vehicle to improve the performance will cost less than if you had a wheelchair lift fitted

It means having disabled access will result in you paying more for insurance than if you changed the transmission, fitted a loud exhaust system or upgraded to more powerful brakes to improve performance.

Even aesthetic modifications, like bonnet bulges, flared wheel arches, boy-racer bodykits, spoilers and racing bucket seats have a smaller impact on premium increases. 

Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket, told us there are laws in place to prevent those needing wheelchair access being fleeced by insurers, however there are loopholes that insurers are manipulating to continue charging disabled drivers more.

'Disabled motorists and their carers are often bewildered as to why adapting a car with wheelchair lifts, clamps or straps can result in their paying higher amounts for their cover,' he said.

'The issue is whether the car is inherently less safe to drive as a result of the work that has been done.'

Steep insurance rise: Adding a wheelchair ramp will force a premium 69 per cent higher on average, according to data supplied by MoneySuperMarket

The average premium increase for having wheelchair access added to your car is greater than fitting an low-slung bodykit, massive chrome wheels and even performance upgrades

And it's not just a question of access. A disabled driver who has hand controls fitted to their car can expect their premiums to rise by 57 per cent on average - that's more than twice as much as having your suspension lowered to speed-bump-grazing levels.

'There are two key points to consider here,' Pratt added. 

'First, under the Equality Act 2010, it's illegal for a disabled person to be charged more for their insurance unless the insurance company can prove the difference is justified. 

'So anyone looking to insure an adapted car should definitely shop around to see what's available.

'The second point is that, thanks to technological innovations such as autonomous braking and lane drift correction, it is becoming more commonplace for driving to be within the reach of people who previously thought they'd never be able to drive. 

'Insurers are recognising this and increasingly treating disabled drivers as mainstream risks.

'The combination of equality legislation and statistics on driver safety should hopefully close any remaining gaps in pricing in due course.'

The original Mini is the car most modified to improve performance and appearance, though we doubt many have made the high-rise changes pictured here

1. Mini (Original) 20%
2. Volkswagen Transporter 15%
3. Mazda RX7 13%
4. Nissan Silvia 13%
5. Nissan 200 12%

1. Kia Sorento 17% 
2. Hyundai Santa Fe 12% 
3. Volkswagen Caravelle 11% 
4. Jeep Grand Cherokee 11% 
5. Nissan X-Trail 11%

According to MoneySupermarket, original Minis are, proportionally, the nation's most modified car, with a fifth of owners adding performance-enhancing and aesthetic features.

The VW Transporter rings in second, while the rest of the top five is made-up of nineties Japanese sports car popular among the performance-modifying community.

For those who prefer to don a more sensible hat, the Kia Sorento is the model with the most functional changes made to it.

In fact, all five of the functionally-adapted cars are SUVs, suggesting most of these are being adapted for towing trailers and caravans.


We asked MoneySuperMarket's Kevin Pratt to explain why some other sensible car modifications will have a negative impact on the cost of your insurance premiums:

Why would a sunroof result in an average rise of 17 per cent - more than tinting windows?

Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket.com

KP: 'Any time a car is modified, it changes the vehicle's original specification, and that sets alarm bells ringing with insurers. 

'The reason is that the safety features built into the car might be compromised, so it becomes a riskier proposition.

'By the same token, any measures that improve the car's performance, such as fitting a rear spoiler or upgrading the intake and exhaust, can boost acceleration and speed, increasing the risk of accidents. Once again, insurers will want a higher premium.

'And anything that attract thieves, such as an upgraded sound system, will again trigger a premium increase.

'Some modifications seem innocuous, such as fitting a sunroof. Why should that increase the cost of cover? But, if you fit a sunroof, there's a possibility you're making it easier for a thief to gain access. Result – higher premiums.'

Why would someone who has had their car converted to LPG (suggesting they're money-conscious) be faced with rising insurance costs? 

KP: 'Drivers of cars converted to liquid petroleum gas (LPG) often face higher premiums, again because significant changes have been made to the car's specification. 

'You are less likely to suffer a premium hike following an LPG conversion if you use an approved Autogas installer, though.'

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