Will modifying motorbikes invalidate your insurance cover?

電單車改裝:電單車保險會失效嗎?

Many motorcycle drivers love to modify their vehicles, so much so that we see more and more altered motorbikes in Hong Kong. Everything from rear-view mirrors, to exhaust pipes and struts can be modified to make the motorbike look more flashy with higher speeds and better performance. However, did you know that according to the law in Hong Kong, for certain modifications you will need to notify the Transport Department first? 

Today, our experts at Kwiksure will explain how you can apply for vehicle modifications permit from the Transport Department, and whether modifying a motorbike will invalidate your insurance cover.

Will modifying motorbikes invalidate your insurance cover?

Many motorcyclists worry that modifying motorbikes will invalidate their insurance cover. But in fact, not all modifications are illegal. If you alter your vehicle in a way that does not break road ordinances, then it is legal.

While the police and insurers won’t instantly find out whether you altered your vehicle without notifying them, it is a great risk to do so as the police can ask you, at any time, to submit your car for testing at one of the Transport Department's testing centres. Police can do that if they suspect your car has been modified with either illegal parts, or in a way that breaks any of the traffic ordinances.

Furthermore, if the insurer finds out that your car has been illegally modified after a traffic accident, the insurer will most likely deny all claims or even cancel your insurance policy, leaving you to pay for damages out of your pocket.

Thus, it is advisable that motorcyclists should consult the Transport Department, your vehicle manufacturer, and your insurer before making any modifications to the motorbike.

What you should know before modifying your motorbike

To identify whether your modification is illegal, you should do the following before making any alterations to your vehicle:

  1. Consult your vehicle manufacturer or agent in advance on whether the proposed alteration is supported.

  2. Be fully aware of any adverse safety factors that may arise through modifications.

  3. Consult your insurance agent in advance. Failure to do so may affect your insurance coverage.

  4. Make sure your proposed alterations do not breach any regulations including Road Traffic Ordinance, Cap 374 and Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations, Cap 374A.

After you have completed the steps above, you can submit your application of the proposed alteration, together with the vehicle manufacturer’s supporting documents to the Vehicle Safety and Standards Division of Transport Department for approval. 

After securing approval in principle, you should send your car to your vehicle manufacturer or agent, or a reputable private vehicle garage for the alteration work. Depending on the approval, you may need to submit the modified car to the Transport Department for final approval.

What kinds of motorcycle modifications are illegal?

Tyres

  • Use a combination of cross-ply & radial tyres

  • Replace with tyres of different dimensions or load capacity without taking advice from the vehicle manufacturer or agent

  • Allow tyres to protrude beyond the body-work or touch any part of the vehicle

  • Use unevenly or excessively worn tyres

Window glass

  • Add reflective material or film to the glass which affects the light transmission

Noise reducing installations

  • Alter or replace silencer, expansion chamber or other contrivance in a way that the noise caused by the escape of the exhaust gases is made greater by the alternation or the replacement

  • Allow the exhaust pipe to protrude excessively beyond the bodywork

Emissions

  • Remove a catalytic convertor or replace with ones designed for racing competition

  • Change factory design of exhaust emission equipment, such as disconnect the oxygen sensor

  • Change electronic components for engine control (computer system for engine management) or use an external ECU tuning device

Headlamps

  • Replace the original filament bulb with filament bulb of higher ratings or light sources, such as LED or HID light tube

Side lamps, stop lamps & indicators 

  • Fit LED lamp not approved by TD; or has no ECE approved marking inscribed

on the LED lamp

  • Install lamps not constructed to fit your vehicle

Fog lamps 

  • Fit front fog lamp with height over 800 mm from the ground (for private car and light goods vehicle)

  • Fit front fog lamp with height over 1,200 mm from the ground (for other vehicles)

  • Fit fog lamps that will light up automatically if headlamps are switched on

Brakes

  • Drive your vehicle if you suspect the brakes are defective

Attachments & protrusions 

  • Add any mascot or fitting to the vehicle which may cause injury to other road-users

  • Fit vacant hitch bicycle rack

  • Fit objects or protrusion with sharp corners or edges 

Contact Kwiksure for more information

With 20 years of experience and well-established partnership with over 60 local insurers, Kwiksure is a leading motor insurance brokerage that specializes in motor insurance, motorbike insurance (both third-party insurance and comprehensive insurance), travel insurance, and home insurance.

Our team of experts have extensive sales experience and can turn obscure jargons into layman terms. Also, our feature articles shed light on different insurance topics. For instance, we have recently talked about “How to choose the right motorcycle helmet” and “A beginner's guide to types of motorcycles”.

Contact us today to get impartial insurance advice, an obligation-free quote, and a plan comparison!

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