Does chipping your car affect your insurance?

29 July 2022 King Price

Growing numbers of South African car owners are remapping their vehicles’ engine control units (ECUs) – or ‘chipping’, as it’s commonly known – to get more power or save fuel. But will modifying your car affect your insurance cover?

King Price client experience partner Wynand van Vuuren says that chipping your car shouldn’t affect your ability to get insurance, but that you should always disclose any modifications to your insurer.

“In insurance terms, chipping your car is considered a modification, even if it’s one you can’t see. Anything you do to change a vehicle’s performance will change your risk, and as such, you should tell your insurer about these changes, as they may affect your monthly premium,” says Van Vuuren.

Remapping is becoming increasingly common. That’s why a car will still be covered if a remap doesn’t enhance or change the mechanical performance of the vehicle. The remapping must also be professionally done to avoid any electronic damage.

What does chipping do?
Most modern car engines are controlled by a tiny computer, known as the ECU. The ECU controls numerous operations of the engine, and adjusting these settings can change either performance or economy, or both.

When you remap your car, you’re basically installing third party software onto the ECU to replace the manufacturer’s default software. This new software has customised settings to get the most out of the engine, and can increase horsepower and torque significantly in some cases.

If this makes your car more valuable, or increases its performance, your insurer must be told. If you’re involved in an accident, and you’re found to have done a remap without notifying your insurer, it could affect your claim.

“There’s a clear onus on a client to tell their insurer about any modifications made to a car, as this may affect the risk and the premium payable,” said Van Vuuren. “A simple rule of thumb is to tell your insurer about anything that doesn’t come standard on your car. This way, you’ll know what’s covered and what isn’t if the worst happens.”

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