Vehicle modification causes insurance complications for Ontario man


Modasir Ayobi is very proud of his car.

A year ago, the 21-year-old from Whitby, Ont., Rented a 2020 Subaru BRZ and is working two jobs to pay for it.

The monthly lease costs him about $ 500. His insurance is even more: $ 7,200 per year.

But after colliding with another vehicle on March 12 that left his vehicle a total loss, Ayobi had a second shock: the insurance company did not pay.

“They denied the whole claim, around $ 35,000,” Ayobi said.

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Ayobi was never charged in the accident although he was found guilty by Desjardins Insurance.

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He refused to pay the loss because Ayobi modified the Subaru exhaust system without his knowledge or permission.

When he leased the vehicle in 2020, Ayobi paid over $ 2,000 to install a custom exhaust system on the Subaru. He kept the original in his basement, intending to have it reinstalled on the vehicle under a four-year lease.

A modified exhaust system, a favorite with many young drivers, is generally noisier than the original equipment that came with the vehicle.

“If I had known that changes would affect insurance, I wouldn’t have done it,” he told Global News.

Other drivers probably don’t know it either, especially if they don’t carefully read their insurance policy and accompanying documents.

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In a summary letter sent to Ayobi when he was insured, Desjardins alluded to the risk.

“Your vehicle is considered modified if it has been modified in any way from its original condition in order to improve or modify its performance, appearance or increase its value. If you are making or plan to make any changes to your vehicle, contact us to make sure we are able to insure you properly, ”the document read.

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Modifications could include a louder exhaust system, lowered suspension, even tinted windows. If an insurance company thinks you’ve broken their terms, you could pay the price.

Desjardins Insurance not only denied the claim but canceled its insurance policy.

Click to play video: 'VW owner warns others after sunroof shatters'

VW owner warns others after sunroof shatters

VW owner warns others after sunroof shatters

However, Ayobi’s story has a happy ending: after Global News contacted the company about Ayobi’s case, Desjardins Insurance reviewed the claim and agreed to pay in full.

“That’s right,” a spokesperson said in an email.

Others might not be so lucky. If someone wants to modify a vehicle, the safe bet is to contact the insurance company to see if that will be a problem.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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