Are leather seats a "modification"?

I’ve nearly had my Mk3 for a year now and it’s the dreaded insurance renewal time!  When I bought it (new) I was asked whether I wanted leather or cloth seats and went for the heated leather ones. I am being told that the leather seats are a “modification” and it’s making quite a difference to the premium - is this right?

I was under the impression that a ‘modification’ is something that is non-factory standard ?
This so I wouldn’t say that your seats are a ‘modification’, just a Mazda ‘upgrade’.

Thank you Ady - I would have thought the same too but my current insurers are insisting that this is why my renewal quote is so much higher than the online quote I’ve got from somewhere else!

Cost of repair/replacement of car & parts will affect premium - our Mondeo Ghia X is a higher group because of this, whilst having an identical engine & chassis to a LX. Leather seats, Ghia X alloys, etc all cost more than the LX items…

Thanks - getting different answers from different insurers so went back to Mazda dealer who tells me that the leather seats and air-con are a factory option, do not have to be declared and will not affect my premium.

Upgrade/Modification…same difference.Tell your insurers


“The seats aren’t a modification, they are a factory option”

Factory options will generally increase the desirability of the car and cost more to replace in the event of a claim.

Increasing your premium to cover this seems entirely reasonable to me.


May seem reasonable, but insurance companies may not charge additional premiums for standard factory options, only owner modifications - they are pulling a fast one and tell them to do one.

Thanks for all you help and advice - I told them there were no modifications and that the leather seats and air-con were a factory option and they finally agreed that this would be noted but there would be no additional premium - result!!

Insurance companies can charge additional premiums for standard factory options if they so desire. These options can ammount to thousands of pounds on some cars.


 This is never a quetion I have been asked. How new dose a car have to be to get asked these questions?
Or are they just taking the piss?

Age doesn’t really come into it.Read the terms and conditions of your policy and see what is says regarding modifications/factory options etc.



I had this problem when I had the RX8, leather seats almost doubled my premium as it was classed as a performance modification, I kid you not, and yet another member of the owners club was with the same company and they didnt give his Borla exhaust a second thought. Pretty sure they make it up as they go along.

Another problem is how do you know what was a factory option if you buy a used car? There’s a lot of people that just buy a car and dont look into it in the nth degree. I know my wife wouldnt be able to tell what stuff was standard or factory option on a 5yr old 3 Series BMW, I’m not sure I could.


Having worked in insurance in the past, your current insurers are taking the piss… maybe they need an excuse to justify your insurance rise?

The difference here is not whether you call it an upgrade or a modification, for insurance purposes it is neither and irrelevant.

The only thing that will affect your premium are NON “factory fitted” modifications. If these things were “factory fitted” then they are not premium loading modifications - infact in the eyes of an insurer not modifications at all.

 If you think about all the different makes and models of cars available - all with a standard car that you can change, paint, sunroof, air con, interior etc etc etc. Almost everyone would have modifications if this were the case which it is not. Do you have an increased policy becuase you chose metallic paint at ordering stage? No

The key statement for your insurers is “factory fitted” If it is - its irrelevant  - if it aint - declare it as an after factory mod.

 Any insurer that tells you any different are either trying to scam you or have very poorly trained staff who dont really know the answer so guess.

Unfortunately the later is true of a lot of insurers these days


If you insure your car for a standard model with no extras and then have a total loss in the first year then you should expect to get it replaced with a standard car with no extras.

You need to tell your insurer about factory fitted options. Let them decide if its important or not. Its not for you to decide.


 Can you provide a link to any insurer that states that optional extras do not have to be disclosed as modifications ?