Guiding consumers since 2009

How car power enhancements affect your cover

By Danielle van Wyk

“Adding aftermarket power enhancement accessories might seem like a good idea to the car enthusiast, but it’s important to consult your insurer about these new additions to your vehicle,” stated Mpumelelo Tyikwe, managing director of Alexander Forbes Insurance.

Many make various modifications to their vehicles, and in many instances it is to improve the performance of the car and thus affects its power output.

Tyikwe explained that insurers use power as a rating factor. “It is the power to mass ratio of a vehicle that is important. If the power is increased and the weight remains the same, the vehicle can accelerate quicker and go faster.”

While many other factors are also taken into account, power is an important one as accidents reportedly cause more loss to insurance than theft, and the damage tends to be more grave among the more powerful cars, explained Alexander Forbes.

“Other important factors are area, age of driver and how long the person has been driving without loss,” Tyikwe added.

It is no secret that younger drivers tend to have riskier behavioural patterns, with a joy for speed and acceleration. This coupled with generally less experience in dangerous and tricky situations that may confront them on the road is a recipe for disaster.

The importance of disclosing any enhancements done to your vehicle can’t be stressed enough, Tyikwe stated.

“If you do not disclose the enhancement, the insurer is prejudiced in that they were not able to charge the correct premium or they were not given the opportunity to decline the risk,” added Tyikwe.

Especially in these trying economic times where fuel increases have become the norm, many enhance their car to improve the fuel economy. However, the effect can still be that the power output is increased.

Power enhancement modifications that need to be disclosed

Tyikwe highlighted a few of the aftermarket vehicle performance modifications which are considered power enhancements, and which are necessary to be disclosed to your insurer:

-Cool air induction system: Tyikwe stated that a common modification is one to the induction system. Drivers who want their engines to sound better and gain power often open up their airflow.

-Intercooler: This is an installation of a type of air conditioner used to keep the air cool for turbocharged motors.

-Downpipe: “This is part of the air inflow to cool air intake,” stated Tyikwe.

-Turbo charge: Tyikwe explained that this charge compresses the air and forces it into the motor, as opposed to the cool air induction system that redirects the airflow.

-Exhaust enhancement: According to Tyikwe, exhaust enhancements typically have less back pressure than conventional exhausts with fewer obstructions and bends, so exhaust flow is increased. Thus affecting the power of the vehicle.

“Many automotive companies offer aftermarket exhaust system upgrades as a subcategory of engine tuning. These upgrades can significantly improve engine performance by reducing the exhaust back pressure and by reducing the amount of heat from the exhaust being lost into the under-bonnet temperature, which consequently improves power,” stated Tyikwe.

Prepare yourself for possible premium adjustments, relative to the modification, as risks many increase. It is for this reason that you may not want to disclose modifications, added Tyikwe, but in the event of an accident, it always proves the better thing to do.

 Handy tip:  If your vehicle is still uninsured, and you are wanting to do so before the silly season is upon us, why not apply for cover through Justmoney.

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