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Insurance declined for replacing parking and reversing bulbs with LEDs


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Bought my 07 RX400h last August and it's now time for annual insurance renewal. Online comparison sites produced quotes from £188 fully comp (yes, I am of that age and retired!!). Assuming insurance companies will use any excuse to wriggle out of paying in the event of a claim, I advised them that front parking (not driving) light bulbs and reversing light bulbs had been replaced with LED types (low wattage). These are obviously classed as a major modifications. Aviva (cheapest) declined cover. Still waiting for responses from others but Adrian Flux will cover for around £400! Carry a set of original bulbs in case of an accident? Really? Do I have to revert to the original bulbs? Suggestions please.

Many thanks.

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23 minutes ago, regularguy said:

Bought my 07 RX400h last August and it's now time for annual insurance renewal. Online comparison sites produced quotes from £188 fully comp (yes, I am of that age and retired!!). Assuming insurance companies will use any excuse to wriggle out of paying in the event of a claim, I advised them that front parking (not driving) light bulbs and reversing light bulbs had been replaced with LED types (low wattage). These are obviously classed as a major modifications. Aviva (cheapest) declined cover. Still waiting for responses from others but Adrian Flux will cover for around £400! Carry a set of original bulbs in case of an accident? Really? Do I have to revert to the original bulbs? Suggestions please.

Many thanks.

Well this is a surprise.  If the bulbs are marked as ‘road legal’ then I fail to see on what grounds an Insurance Company can refuse them..They may well be brighter but they may also be of a lower wattage, so electrically safer.

I would check with the retailer that these specific bulbs are indeed road legal and if so, then ask why insurers can object to bulbs that make the car safer.  In any case, it’s not as though parking/reversing lights present a continuous hazard to other motorists!

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21 minutes ago, LenT said:

Well this is a surprise.  If the bulbs are marked as ‘road legal’ then I fail to see on what grounds an Insurance Company can refuse them

That's your problem, they are not road legal.  I think it's more of a case that legislation has not caught up with newer technology rather than any risk they pose.

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The problems continue as now you have been refused cover you have to declare that when approaching a new insurer. They usually ask have you ever been refused cover.

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16 hours ago, NemesisUK said:

The problems continue as now you have been refused cover you have to declare that when approaching a new insurer. They usually ask have you ever been refused cover.

No. It is not what they mean with the question "have you ever been your policy refused/cancelled or your claim rejected". This only applies when you were found to lie on your policy i.e. claiming you have 5 years NCB and then they find out that you don't and refuse the policy. Or you say you didn't have penalties, but they find out you do and the cancel your policy. Or when you make a claim and they find out it is fraudulent. 

Basically you can read the question in a way - "have you ever committed fraud or lied to insurance and as result had your policy invalidated".

So your policy has to be accepted first and then it has to be later cancelled/refused. That insurance refused to Insure you outright is not what you need to declare. For example my previous insurance eSure has refused to Insure me on RC200t. Not any sort of fault I made, I simply had IS250 which they were happy to Insure for ~£600, changed the car called them to update the policy and they said - "sorry we can't Insure it on this car".

19 hours ago, regularguy said:

Bought my 07 RX400h last August and it's now time for annual insurance renewal. Online comparison sites produced quotes from £188 fully comp (yes, I am of that age and retired!!). Assuming insurance companies will use any excuse to wriggle out of paying in the event of a claim, I advised them that front parking (not driving) light bulbs and reversing light bulbs had been replaced with LED types (low wattage). These are obviously classed as a major modifications. Aviva (cheapest) declined cover. Still waiting for responses from others but Adrian Flux will cover for around £400! Carry a set of original bulbs in case of an accident? Really? Do I have to revert to the original bulbs? Suggestions please.

Many thanks.

Simply do not mention such things on insurance, you got yourself in trouble for being unnecessarily detailed and reporting things which you don't need to report.

It is kind of "appeal to ignorance argument" but it works just fine. Insurance says you have answer questions "honestly to best of your knowledge". In this case they ask does your car has modifications... what is modification? That is not defined, so you don't need to answer the question, LED may not be considered modification. Further, you may have bought the car with LED lights on it, so to best of your knowledge you may not even known they were there, or you didn't know that they are classed as modification. Plausible deniability.

Now to be completely honest I don't think LED bulbs are modification. Modification in my mind is something that alters vehicle power or anything that in anyway can impact how the car drivers or how it appears to others. For example I would say tinting lights with dark wrap (or paint) them is modification, because it makes your lights less visible (it is known insurance have rejected claims because of this). Just putting LED bulb in place of incandescent one is not a modification, because from all practical points of view they function exactly the same as the bulb they replaced. Where LED might be an issue is dipped beam - they often spread the light pattern differently and might dazzle other drivers. To be clear this could invalidate insurance not because they LED, but because they could be deemed MOT failure, thus making your car not-road worthy, thus invalidating insurance. Now to be fair it is grey area, but as long as you know your story this should never result in claim being denied. And because you have LED bulbs where it doesn't matter, you should not even report that to insurance.

Just note - this is not legal advise, just an opinion. 

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just my observations ...  some  cars with ridiculously bright lights are a menace to other road users .........  whether or not those bulbs can be considered legal or not I do not know BUT they are clearly available to purchase and install and it might be that insurers are taking a stance on being ultra careful if an accident is to be blamed by a 3rd party on the lights intensity etc of the vehicle causing or contributing to such an accident

just my / a  view .........  bright or not :wink3:

Malc

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56 minutes ago, Malc said:

just my observations ...  some  cars with ridiculously bright lights are a menace to other road users .........  whether or not those bulbs can be considered legal or not I do not know BUT they are clearly available to purchase and install and it might be that insurers are taking a stance on being ultra careful if an accident is to be blamed by a 3rd party on the lights intensity etc of the vehicle causing or contributing to such an accident

just my / a  view .........  bright or not :wink3:

Malc

That is true when it comes to dipped beam, either fake-xenon or not well designed LED lights in non-projector lights have wrong pattern and illuminates road incorrectly, as result blinding other drivers. But again just to be clear this is not because they are LED, but because they are incorrectly designed, cheap or simply not deigned to be run in reflector type light. If you have projector headlights, then in theory that should not be a problem.

This is very unlikely to invalidate your insurance thought. One - if you going to get into crash it is going to be hard to prove what lights were fitted, who fitted them and whenever they were road legal. As I said, there is theoretical risk, because assuming lights are so bad that they can invalidate MOT, then the car was not road legal and insurance becomes automatically invalid. This is however much more likely to happen if you lights does not work, rather than are too bright.

For example in the past I have replaced side lights on IS250 with compatible LED bulb, which simply matches Xenon colour (4000k) and is more convenient because it lasts forever and you don't need to worry about it blowing out. Obviously, I have not reported this to insurance, because it is not a mod, just more modern technology which replaces older and worse technology.

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21 hours ago, Spock66 said:

That's your problem, they are not road legal. 

apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol">Whether that proves to be a problem or not, we shall see. The car’s due for its MOT next week and by then I hope to have the dismal reversing light replaced with a substantially more effective LED alternative.

21 hours ago, Spock66 said:

  I think it's more of a case that legislation has not caught up with newer technology rather than any risk they pose.

apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol">This is certainly the basis of any claimed illegality. LED bulbs are not yet E-marked because they don’t meet the legislation that was originally drawn up in 1986 to regulate halogen bulbs. At that time no-one envisaged the possibility of a superior new technology simply slotting in to the old halogen unit.

apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol">So for example, a filament-based stop light bulb was required to be a minimum of 15 watts. But that would be a ludicrous requirement for an LED. In fact more sensible legislation would be based on lumens not watts, as it’s the actual light output that really matters.

However, the MOT situation has changed since January 2021 to include LED bulbs.

Section 4.1.4 now states the following:

Existing halogen headlamp units should not be converted to be used with high intensity discharge (HID) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. If such a conversion has been done, you must fail the headlamp.”

This is a brand new update that seems to only focus on headlights.

There are no mentions to fail other LED bulbs such as brake lights, tail lights or reversing lights.

With no other mention of after-market LEDs in the MOT guidelines, all that is left is for them to check is that the beam pattern is correct and the colour of the light is predominantly white, white with a blue tint or yellow. Any good quality after-market LED bulbs will meet this criteria.

apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol">As long as the beam pattern and the colour of the light is correct – then there is no reason an LED upgrade bulb will fail an MOT.

apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol">(Autobulbs Direct – Jan 2021)

apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol">Now there is an argument that such a bulb upgrade is a modification that must be approved by Insurers or cover will be invalidated. In the real world I can’t see this happening. If I had to claim because I drove into a tree, would my Insurers really demand that my reversing light bulb was examined in order to try and avoid liability?

apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol">Surely the purpose of such actions by Insurers is to be able to factor in the additional risks posed by some modifications, over and above their previous cover. Hence modifications to suspensions might be cause for concern.

apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol">But I would certainly be prepared to challenge the view that improving the light output of my reversing light increased any risk. On the contrary, it is surely a practical step to avoiding the possibility of a potential claim for damage.

 

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I had insurance declined because Direct Line had incorrect power specification and because I had to renew through a telephone advisor he asked me to verify information he was stating was correct at ever stage. They had correct model designation and naming convention but he stated it was 107 horsepower which I immediately pointed out was not the case, long conversation ensued and he said the information was supplied by the underwriters and had to be accurate. I pointed out that Wikipedia confirmed that the hybrid motor is capable of delivering 107 HP and this is obviously incorrect detail at DL end. They said they could not change this information as it had to be accurate and that they therefore were unable to Insure my car. I also pointed out that there could be UX owners who renewed online and maybe didn't notice this detail, he said it is the customers responsibility to ensure that all of the stated details are correct and that wrong information such as this could void the policy. Now you might say this could be argued in court but I would prefer not to take on the might of a major company in court, this would just increase the stress following some kind of accident / claim being processed. However replacing filament lamps (bulbs) with LED's surely cannot be considered to be a "modification" as it simply replaces something already fitted to that car with something else that works in exactly the same way. As has been said they might have been fitted prior to you purchasing the car and how could you know that?       

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5 minutes ago, LenT said:

view that improving the light output of my reversing light increased any risk

And that may not even happen, it could be that one simply replaces old 15W incandescent with 0.8W LED with same light out-put and literally the only thing which changes is more modern technology which is more reliable.

As well as I said, when it comes to rear lights, I would not even be able to tell without taking the bulb out whenever it is LED or not... and even if I do take it out then how to I know is this is factory fitted or aftermarket? Many cars actually comes with LED lights now.

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4 minutes ago, Hamish2015 said:

However replacing filament lamps (bulbs) with LED's surely cannot be considered to be a "modification" as it simply replaces something already fitted to that car with something else that works in exactly the same way.

That's not a very good argument.

If steel wheels are replaced by alloy wheels they are replacing something that was already fitted and they work in exactly the same way. However, that is classed as a 'proper' modification because it makes the car more desirable to the criminal due to the increased cost of alloys and so increases the risk of it (or at least the wheels) being nicked.

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5 minutes ago, Herbie said:

That's not a very good argument.

If steel wheels are replaced by alloy wheels they are replacing something that was already fitted and they work in exactly the same way. However, that is classed as a 'proper' modification because it makes the car more desirable to the criminal due to the increased cost of alloys and so increases the risk of it (or at least the wheels) being nicked.

Yes, but LED lamps won't so your analogy doesn't really apply.

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50 minutes ago, Herbie said:

That's not a very good argument.

If steel wheels are replaced by alloy wheels they are replacing something that was already fitted and they work in exactly the same way. However, that is classed as a 'proper' modification because it makes the car more desirable to the criminal due to the increased cost of alloys and so increases the risk of it (or at least the wheels) being nicked.

Even that isn't really the case anymore. Sure it was the case 20-30 years ago when alloy wheels were expensive option and when people were stealing them, but nowadays most cars have alloy wheels. It was required to report if such wheels were fitted, just because the fact they wheels themselves could be stolen. As well, despite I am sure some insurance companies have tried to use this an excuse not to pay out, it was not the case that wheels invalidated your insurance in accident. It was rather the case that if you haven't reported the wheels and they got stolen insurance company would reject the claim as they didn't know they are insuring the wheels. 

Nowadays, as long as wheels are correct spec for the car and generally car is road worthy condition, I would not report them. When I had 18" IS mk3 wheels on IS mk2 which had an option of 18", but came from factory with 17" I have actually called my insurance anonymously and asked that question and they said not to report it. The wheels were correct size and they were Lexus wheels so again I could have said that they were on the car when I bought it.

It is the same reason why Insurance requires to declare sound systems. Not that it somehow makes car unsafe, but because say you have £2000 car and £10000 sound system in it. They assume their liability to be £2000, but you fancy sound system get's stolen and you claim £10000 - obviously insurance won't cover it, unless explicitly declared and insured. But if you crash the car, then they won't come and say - "aha... aftermarket amplifier in the boot, your insurance is invalid!".

As for LED, lights - they neither make car more desirable to steal, not change how the lights work. I agree it could be argued either way, but I would go with my advise of simply deciding what to say if challenged. I would got with saying that it was fitted when I got the car and I don't know (and cannot be expected to know) if they are standard or aftermarket.

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4 hours ago, Linas.P said:

They assume their liability to be £2000, but you fancy sound system get's stolen and you claim £10000 - obviously insurance won't cover it, unless explicitly declared and insured.

It goes beyond just the modification itself. The risk of the vehicle being broken into, and damaged in the process, goes up substantially, so even if you don't try and claim the replacement stereo cost the policy is unlikely to even cover you for the damage to the door/window etc.

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4 minutes ago, ColinBarber said:

It goes beyond just the modification itself. The risk of the vehicle being broken into, and damaged in the process, goes up substantially, so even if you don't try and claim the replacement stereo cost the policy is unlikely to even cover you for the damage to the door/window etc.

Yes.. agreed, but not in case of accident - i.e. rejecting TP liability, because subwoofer was too big. 

Although, if car is written-off in the accident, only expect £2000 for what the car was worth, not for all the expensive equipment inside. I guess there is only option to remove it before scrapping. 

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Thank you all for your replies and your views on this subject.

Aviva stated "If the vehicle has been modified after it has left the factory then you will need to include these modifications on your policy." So I would need to inform them if I changed the make/type of tyre?

The good news is that LV= have covered me for just under £250 which I can't grumble about. I have taken on board your comments so I will be approaching my renewal in a different way in 12 months time.

Very grateful for all of your help.

David.

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15 hours ago, regularguy said:

to inform them if I changed the make/type of tyre?

NO   just the size changes will apply ...........  or if they're manufactured in France :whistling:

Malc

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just to correct insurance coverage of after market car hifi. I'd assume its the same today as it was in the 80's and 90's when I did semi pro installs. Those systems cost on average 2.5k and insurance companies were informed and a premium would be added to the quote to cover the installation. Receipts for equipment would have been supplied to the insurance company along with photos of Installation. There were never issues when a theft claim was submitted. Claims were paid. I was one of the unfortunate ones who had a car stolen with a big install in. I got car value back and installation cost back.

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  • 1 month later...
On 1/31/2022 at 4:33 PM, regularguy said:

Bought my 07 RX400h last August and it's now time for annual insurance renewal. Online comparison sites produced quotes from £188 fully comp (yes, I am of that age and retired!!). Assuming insurance companies will use any excuse to wriggle out of paying in the event of a claim, I advised them that front parking (not driving) light bulbs and reversing light bulbs had been replaced with LED types (low wattage). These are obviously classed as a major modifications. Aviva (cheapest) declined cover. Still waiting for responses from others but Adrian Flux will cover for around £400! Carry a set of original bulbs in case of an accident? Really? Do I have to revert to the original bulbs? Suggestions please.

Many thanks.

According to ITV (Spain) TÜV (Germany) Side and rear lamps are not considered major change and cannot therefore be a fault when car needs to go through the examination to be allowed to drive another year or 2.

This is what we are told here when asking the ITV control:

"Vehicle lighting not only serves to see the road, but also to be seen by other road users.

The number of lights varies depending on the type of vehicle, but it is essential (and mandatory) to have all the lighting in perfect condition.

Modifying any characteristic of the lighting devices is considered a reform of the vehicle, so the owner of the vehicle or the person authorized by him must request its legalization at an ITV station.

Documentation to modify the lighting of your vehicle The documents that you must present at the ITV station to modify the lighting of your vehicle are: – Conformity report: it is issued by the vehicle manufacturer or by a technical repair service. –

Workshop certificate: it is the document that contains the data of the workshop where the reform has been carried out. –

Technical inspection card: certifies that the vehicle has passed the technical approvals to circulate on the roads of Spain. –

Driving license: it is the document that identifies the ownership of the vehicle.

It should be noted that the change from incandescence to LED in the side and rear optical groups is not considered a reform. In these cases, they can be changed without the need for any management.

You can carry out this procedure at any Applus+ ITV station.

To do this, request the day and time directly at the station.

Remember that, for routine inspection, you can make an appointment online ITV."

Yes I have heard that UK is no longer in EU, but that changes for such minor things should have been made since Brexit certainly sounds surprising.

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43 minutes ago, Las Palmas said:

According to ITV (Spain) TÜV (Germany) Side and rear lamps are not considered major change and cannot therefore be a fault when car needs to go through the examination to be allowed to drive another year or 2.

This is what we are told here when asking the ITV control:

"Vehicle lighting not only serves to see the road, but also to be seen by other road users.

The number of lights varies depending on the type of vehicle, but it is essential (and mandatory) to have all the lighting in perfect condition.

Modifying any characteristic of the lighting devices is considered a reform of the vehicle, so the owner of the vehicle or the person authorized by him must request its legalization at an ITV station.

Documentation to modify the lighting of your vehicle The documents that you must present at the ITV station to modify the lighting of your vehicle are: – Conformity report: it is issued by the vehicle manufacturer or by a technical repair service. –

Workshop certificate: it is the document that contains the data of the workshop where the reform has been carried out. –

Technical inspection card: certifies that the vehicle has passed the technical approvals to circulate on the roads of Spain. –

Driving license: it is the document that identifies the ownership of the vehicle.

It should be noted that the change from incandescence to LED in the side and rear optical groups is not considered a reform. In these cases, they can be changed without the need for any management.

You can carry out this procedure at any Applus+ ITV station.

To do this, request the day and time directly at the station.

Remember that, for routine inspection, you can make an appointment online ITV."

Yes I have heard that UK is no longer in EU, but that changes for such minor things should have been made since Brexit certainly sounds surprising.

In the UK at least there is a difference between our annual MoT test and the insurance companies. The MoT test has a written and documented limited scope for road legal / worthiness but the insurance companies are a law unto themselves and simply state they need to know ANY change from the manufacturers build and not telling them risks voiding the insurance cover even though the car may still pass a MoT and be totally road legal and worthy. Another example might be adding a rear spoiler - makes no difference to the MoT or road worthiness but the insurance companies would still want to know and may add a premium to the insurance for it (for any multitude of reasons they can dream up to extract more money). 

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18 minutes ago, wharfhouse said:

In the UK at least there is a difference between our annual MoT test and the insurance companies. The MoT test has a written and documented limited scope for road legal / worthiness but the insurance companies are a law unto themselves and simply state they need to know ANY change from the manufacturers build and not telling them risks voiding the insurance cover even though the car may still pass a MoT and be totally road legal and worthy. Another example might be adding a rear spoiler - makes no difference to the MoT or road worthiness but the insurance companies would still want to know and may add a premium to the insurance for it (for any multitude of reasons they can dream up to extract more money). 

A rear spoiler (especially if made of carbon fibre) can be expensive so they want more money and maybe having a little reason to that. But bulbs in a rear- or side-lamp cannot make a possible repair more expensive, so their reason for that is absolutely just a way to screw customers.

I would look for a different insurance company if they would do something like that here.

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Insurance companies simply take the p*ss. I only look for modified car specialists due to my mods, but I have never ever been charged extra for non-engine mods. Some only charge a little extra if you increase the power of the car.. That being said, a long-ish list of mods on my car is fully covered like for like without additional charges and premium of only £430/year. Someone I know once had an issue with this when they had a technician sent out to their car to install a black box and the tech. noticed that the callipers have been painted and the rear windows have been tinted... ridiculous. It's all classed as "mods". Lick of paint and some foil. wow.. if they want to be so anal about things like that, they might as well class Arnold Clark stickers on the windows as mods since the cars wouldn't of rolled out of the factory with them 🤣 It annoys me and I feel sorry for people that have to deal with this, but yeah... look for modified car specialists like Brentacre, Greenlight, Adrian Flux etc.

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A few years ago, my Toyota HiAce van insurance was up for renewal and as per normal I had a renewal price from my existing insurer. I can't remember why I phoned them up, but in the ensuing conversation the chap on the end of the phone was going through the usual questions including the one about modifications.

I then joking said yes, my van had some carpet on the floor in the back, which I put there to help cut down noise and stop the floor getting roughed up etc.

He asked if I could hang on for a couple of minutes then came back and to my utter disbelief pronounced that there would be an increase in premium of £17 for said modification.

Yes. I politely told him where to go and got my insurance elsewhere.

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3 hours ago, Las Palmas said:

so their reason for that is absolutely just a way to screw customers.

Exactly this - there is no rhyme nor reason why some changes should make any difference to the insurance risk but it's just an excuse to raise the premium - they have the catch-all in the T&Cs that all modifications (no matter what) must be declared or they could void cover. Now, I did read somewhere that unless a  modification that has not been declared could be attributed towards an accident it could not be used to void cover though of course any associated cost recovery for the undeclared modification would be declined but I wouldn't like to test that...! 

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When seeking insurance quotes for a car several years ago, I included a cheaper copy of the front grille from a variant model.  In one case the insurance guy on the phone told me that there would be an additional cost for this as the ram effect of air going through the alternative grille would increase power.  I told him that the air intake was to a sealed standard filter box drawn threw a port high under the left front wing, so changing the front grille would not make any difference.  I suspect many a motorist with this model would not be aware and just accept an additional cost. 

Some insurers are more tolerant than others and some will either refuse cover or increase premium for miniscule changes.  

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