Published on April 15th, 2015 | by Guest Contributor

Can Booster Seats and Seat Belt Clips Affect Insurance Claims?

By the time most people reach their mid-thirties, they’re behind the wheel of their second or third car. I fall into this category, too – except that my third car will be the first car I’ve ever purchased.

Rocky, as my car is named, has been my partner in crime as I’ve traversed this great province from one city to another over the years. We’ve been through the proverbial good times and bad, and I’ve loved him even though he has manual windows and a tape deck. Unfortunately, Rocky is 14 years old now and showing his age. I’ll be sad to see him go, but considering that I recently had to be towed from Thornhill to Toronto when his transmission pan sprung a leak and turned my office parking lot into an oil slick, I think I’ll be able to hold back the tears.

I was excited to begin my new car search, so I drew up a list of the brands I was interested in and set off to do a few test drives. Unfortunately, just about every vehicle I test-drove was way, way too large. I’m petite, so large vehicles can often be difficult for me to drive comfortably; on the other hand, I do a lot of highway driving and don’t like being dwarfed by transport trucks while in a small vehicle. Call me the Goldilocks of car shopping. I made a joke to one dealer that I needed a booster seat. Instead of laughing at my quip he told me that using a cushion would prevent me from being insured since it would be considered a modification to the car. This surprised me, and got me thinking: what do people who are even shorter than I am do, and do they have trouble buying car insurance?

The journalist in me prevailed and I decided to investigate. After speaking with a number of insurance professionals, I learned that if the modifications are major – such as adding extensions to the pedals – an insurance company will cover the driver as long as proof can be provided that the modifications are certified and were done at the car dealership. The story changes, however, when you get into the grey area of minor modifications, such as booster cushions and seatbelt clips. Apparently, since these changes can’t really be certified, it is up to the insurance provider to determine if it will cover the driver, so it’s all done on a case-by-case basis.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to worry about any of this, because in the end, I opted for another Golf. I thought I would be more upset about buying the exact same car, but I think I’ll be very happy with Slick, as he’s already been dubbed. He’s super cute, he’s got all the “extras” that I’ve been craving (hello, Bluetooth!) and, most importantly, he fits me. Unfortunately, I ordered the most popular car on the market right now, and am stuck in a seemingly endless waiting game until it arrives. And so the car saga continues…

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