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Modified bike insurance

As a motorbike owner, you might have thought about customising your bike to make it truly unique. But how do modifications affect the cost of a motorbike insurance policy?

As a motorbike owner, you might have thought about customising your bike to make it truly unique. But how do modifications affect the cost of a motorbike insurance policy?

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Last Updated
6 APRIL 2023
6 min read
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What is modified bike insurance?

Modified motorcycle insurance is a custom-built policy to suit any alterations made to your motorbike. It can provide the same level of cover as a standard motorbike insurance policy.

A bike modification is any change or addition that you make to your bike after it’s manufactured. Some modifications have to be declared to the DVLA – for example, if you change the colour of your bike or alter its engine or frame number.

Making changes to the manufacturer’s specifications, whether that’s purely cosmetic or performance-based changes, increases the risk to insurers. That could be because it makes your bike more attractive to thieves, it's more valuable, or more powerful.

If you make modifications to your motorbike, it’s important that you not only tell the DVLA, but also your insurance provider. Failing to change your cover to custom bike insurance could void your policy.

Are modified bikes more expensive to insure?

Yes, modified bike insurance can be more expensive, but not always.

That’s because any changes you make to the manufacturer’s specification could increase the bike’s value, make it more expensive to repair and make it more attractive to thieves. These are all risks to insurers. When insuring your custom bike, you’ll need to establish an ‘agreed value’, which is set in your policy wording and is the amount paid out if your bike is written off.

However, not all alterations are bad news for your insurance premium. Providers appreciate that you’ll want to make your bike your own and some will accept certain changes as ‘standard’ without altering your premium.

Also, what appears on one provider’s ‘standard modifications’ list might not be on another’s. As a general rule, you should always tell your insurance provider about any changes to your bike. Even the smallest one could invalidate your policy, so if in doubt, always find out.

Finally, if you’ve made modifications to your bike which improve its security or safety, these could actually make it cheaper to insure.

What modifications could increase my insurance? 

Typically, any modifications that improve your bike’s power or speed and enhance its overall performance could increase the cost of your motorbike insurance premium. A more powerful bike could be considered a greater accident risk, as well as possibly making it more attractive to thieves. 

Performance modifications include:

  • Changes to the exhaust system – to create more power or noise
  • Supercharging and turbocharging
  • Engine tuning
  • Changes to the drivetrain
  • Tuning boxes that remap the fuel injection system.

Cosmetic modifications include: 

  • A specialist paint job, like race colours or airbrush artwork
  • Decals
  • Belly pan
  • Carbon fibre parts
  • Chrome parts
  • Mudguards.

Depending on the changes you’re making, modifying your motorbike’s bodywork could fall under performance or cosmetic. Speak to your insurance provider to check.

What modifications could lower my insurance? 

There are some modifications that could actually help lower the cost of your insurance – namely, security and safety features. 

Security modifications:

  • An immobiliser
  • An aftermarket alarm (an alarm installed that wasn’t the manufacturer’s)
  • GPS tracking device
  • Engine/chassis etching or security marking 

Safety modifications:

  • Throttle or power restrictors
  • Enhanced braking systems
  • Enhanced suspension systems
  • Screen changes that help reduce buffering and offer better protection when riding in bad weather 

While it’s always a good idea to improve the security and safety of your bike, don’t just assume that all providers will offer the same discount – some may not offer any reductions at all. That’s why it’s best to shop around and compare a few to find the right deal for you.

Top tip
If you’re going to spend money on added security mods, check whether they’re approved by your insurance provider. When it comes to alarms and immobilisers, they may need to be ‘Thatcham-approved’ to get a discount on your premium.

What modifications won’t affect my insurance? 

Practical modifications are unlikely to affect the cost of your premium. These include: 

  • A luggage rack
  • Top box or trunk bag
  • Heated grips for winter riding
  • Air filter changes
  • Seat replacement
  • Sissy bar (long back rest)
  • Crash protectors
  • Exhaust and fork protectors.

Insurance providers have a standard list of acceptable mods that shouldn’t affect the cost of your insurance. In some cases, you won’t even need to disclose them when getting a quote. That said, it’s always best to let them know so they can ensure you’re properly covered.

Top tip
Some providers may put a limit on the number of ‘acceptable’ mods you can add to your bike. Check your policy carefully and if there is a limit, make sure you don’t go over it – your insurance provider could end up charging you more, or even invalidate your policy.

What modifications void motorcycle insurance?

That may depend on the insurance provider. Each provider will have its own standard modifications list, which means different providers may approve of different mods. If you’re unsure, read the policy wording or speak to the insurance company. Depending on the modifications you’re hoping to make, you may need specialist insurance cover.

However, there are a few mods that are definite no-nos. Not only do the following modifications mean insurance providers won’t touch you, but they’re also illegal:

  • Replacing OEM headlights with multiple headlamps – it’s illegal for a motorbike to have more than two headlamps as the over-the-top glare could distract other motorists
  • Coloured headlights – changing the colours could affect visibility or give the wrong information to others on the road
  • Removing the reflectors – they may make your bike ‘less sexy’, but reflectors are there for your safety and to help improve your visibility at night
  • Removing the side mirrors – some motorcyclists get rid of the side mirrors to make the bike look sportier and reduce drag. Without side mirrors you won’t be able to view blind spots on the road – removing them is highly dangerous and illegal
  • Larger rear tyres – you may think your bike looks more of a ‘beast’, but a whopping great tyre at the rear can play havoc with the balance and handling. There’s a risk of you losing control, especially if you’re an inexperienced rider.

How to get a modified bike insurance quote

There are a limited number of providers who offer specialist custom bike and modified motorbike insurance. Unfortunately, we don’t currently offer any of these providers through our comparison service. Therefore, we can’t provide a modified bike quote.

If you’re planning on making modifications to your motorbike, talk to your current insurance provider. Tell them about any and all changes you’re going to make, including any specifications, manufacturers and cost. If you’re making performance-based changes, you may need to provide an engineer’s report, so you’re insurance provider can make a risk assessment. For example, if you’re improving your bike’s performance, does that mean you’re more likely to be driving at higher speeds?

Once your insurance provider has completed their risk assessment, they’ll let you know if they will cover you and your modified bike. If they can’t, you should consider taking out specialist insurance with a different provider. Keep in mind that this type of insurance cover is likely to cost more.

What else could affect the cost of my motorbike insurance? 

Motorbike modifications aren’t the only things that could affect the cost of your insurance. The price of your premium can also depend on: 

  • Your ageyounger bikers should expect to pay more as they’re considered a higher risk
  • Your job – if you use your bike for commuting or making deliveries, it’s more likely that you’ll be riding during peak times, so there’s more risk of being involved in an accident
  • Your postcode – if you live in a high crime area, there’s more risk of your bike being stolen
  • Where you store your bike – you’ll likely pay more for your insurance if you park your bike on the street instead of on the driveway or in a garage.

How do I compare motorbike insurance quotes?

While we can’t compare modified bike insurance, we can make it quick and easy to compare standard motorbike insurance. To see what kind of cover is available for your motorbike, just give us a few details and let’s compare.

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Frequently asked questions

Are accessories considered a modification?

Approved manufacturer accessories aren’t typically considered modifications, so they shouldn’t affect your insurance. In fact, some accessories like a chain guard or bar ends that protect your bike, could help lower the cost of your premium. Just make sure they’re fitted by the manufacturer or an approved motorbike mechanic.

What’s the difference between a custom bike and a modified bike?

A modified motorbike is typically considered a standard model that’s undergone some modifications to change its performance or style, or for practical reasons. A custom bike is specifically built to be unique, using a mixture of parts to create a bespoke machine. Popular custom motorbikes are those factory-built to look like models from the 1960s or 70s. While standard insurance may be enough for a modified bike, you may need to search for specialist custom motorcycle insurance for a bespoke model.

Should I modify my bike?

Before you start tweaking, consider whether a modification is really worth it. If you want to sell your bike in the future, it might be more difficult to sell on than a standard motorcycle.

If you’re the proud owner of a classic bike, it’s probably best to stay away from modifications. Keeping it in its original condition with original parts could potentially increase its value. New mods on the other hand, will most likely cause your bike to drop in value.

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