Whether you love to hit the slopes in the winter or you spend your summers driving back and forth from the cottage, a roof rack can be a lifesaver when it comes to getting your stuff from point A to point B. While a roof rack can be a great way to save some space in your vehicle, you should also know that installing one counts as a vehicle modification, and there are some precautions you should take to make the process a smooth one. We’ve got some essential tips for roof rack installation and the inside scoop on how it might affect your insurance.

Tips for installing a roof rack on your vehicle

Keep these tips in mind as you get started with the installation process:

  1. Decide which type of roof rack will best suit your needs. If your vehicle already has built-in rails, tracks, or gutters on the roof, you’ll need a roof rack that has crossbars that can connect to them. If the roof is “naked” (with no rails or tracks), you’ll need a roof rack that clamps around the doorjambs. The second option usually includes more parts, but is still fairly easy to install.
  2. Consider the equipment you’ll be attaching to the roof rack. There are racks specifically made for skis and snowboards, bikes, kayaks, and surfboards, as well as universal options that can carry whatever you want.
  3. Decide how wide and how long you’ll need the roof rack to be. The size of roof rack you buy will affect how much equipment you can attach to it.
  4. Decide where you want the roof rack to sit. You could either install it right in the centre of your roof or closer to one side for easier access.
  5. Double-check your measurements. Keep a ruler or tape measure on hand if you’re installing crossbars on a “naked” roof. You’ll want to make sure they’re evenly spaced and parallel to each other.
  6. Check the instructions twice. Every roof rack is different, so it’s important to closely follow the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer. If you’re unsure about any step of the process, double-check the instructions or get advice from a professional.

Does installing a roof rack affect your car insurance?

A roof rack is considered a vehicle modification, and as with any other modification, installing one could affect your eligibility for car insurance coverage or alter the type of coverage you need. While your insurer may cover some types of modifications, they may not cover others, or they may need to add special coverage to your policy due to the increased risk that comes with certain modifications.

Always let your insurance broker know before you make a modification to your vehicle, even if it seems minor. Your broker can help you understand any changes in your coverage that might result from the new addition and make sure you have the protection you need. In the worst-case scenario, they might tell you that your current insurer doesn’t cover this type of modification — then they can help you shop around for one who does. It’s worth noting that failure to disclose a material change in risk can result in a denied claim or your policy being cancelled.

When it’s done right, installing a roof rack on your vehicle can make your life a lot easier, but when it isn’t done right, it can put you in danger of having an accident. If you’re not comfortable installing your roof rack yourself, you can always have it done by a professional — just don’t forget to let your insurer know either way.


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