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MODS, sorry if this is in wrong place but I found it on another site and thought it should be shared


I’ve insured my cars with Direct Line in the past but moved away from them in 2014 when I bought my first E63, for reasons that will become clear.

As a benchmarking exercise against my renewal invitation from Aviva this year, I ran a proposal with Direct Line. As part of the online declaration you have no option but to confirm that your car is unmodified, so that’s what I did to get an indicative premium. Now, my current E63 is modified – it has a Quaife diff – so I knew that should I wish to proceed then I would have to phone Direct Line to determine what, if any, impact that would have on their offer. I also downloaded a copy of the Policy Document so that I could compare it with what Aviva were offering.

The interesting bit in the policy regarding modifications is their definition:

Modifications – any changes to your car’s standard specification, including optional extras.

Note that “optional extras” are classed as Modifications.

So, I phone them up, tell them about my online quote so they have all the relevant details and say that I need to declare a modification to the car. I also questioned them regarding whether or not factory-fitted options needed to be declared. They confirmed that all deviations from the car’s standard specification, regardless of whether or not those deviations were factory-fitted options, were classed as modifications and had to be declared.

OK, so we start with the Driving Assistance Package. Yes, they have that on their list.

Then the Dynamic Multi-Contour Seats. “Are they sports seats?” No, they’re Dynamic Multi-Contour Seats. “Ahh, we don’t have those on our list so I need to make a note of them. How much did they cost?”.

OK, so we move on to the Comfort Ventilated Seats. “Err… No, we don’t have those on our list either so I need to make a note of them and their cost too”.

Then I mention Speed Limit Assist. “Speed Camera Alert?”, I’m asked. Nope, nothing to do with speed cameras. It uses a camera system to read the road signs and displays the speed limit in the instrument cluster. “Err… I can’t find that on our list. I need to add it to the notes”.

At this point I stop proceedings as this was exactly why I left Direct Line in 2014 when I had my first E63 that had just about every available option on it. The process of trying to register all the options was so difficult I terminated my current policy and went to Aviva.

The requirement to provide information about factory fitted options is sort of understandable at first thought, but Aviva manage with just a registration number and are unconcerned about factory fitted options. This suggests that either they get the information from manufacturer-supplied data source or, more likely, they don’t consider it relevant to their underwriting risk. Either way, life’s too short to spend trying to register every factory fit option with Direct Line.

So, the point of all this?

Direct Line’s Policy Document is very clear, and my attempts to insure with them have confirmed that they really are insistent on all factory-fitted options being declared – even if they make it so darned difficult to do so that people like me take their business elsewhere. This is not common practice in my experience, so I suspect that a large proportion of all motor policies written with Direct Line could potentially be at least partially voided on the basis of failure to disclose material information. Whilst Direct Line can put any conditions they like on their motor policies, I would suggest that most people filling in the online proposal form wouldn’t dream of answering “yes” to the question of “is your car modified” just on the basis that it has factory-fitted options. If you’re a Mercedes-Benz owner it’s highly unlikely that your car has no factory-fitted options, so if you insure with Direct Line you may wish to review whether or not any options have been declared. And good luck with trying to declare them.

Be aware also that Direct Line is a brand of UK Insurance who underwrite motor policies for many other well-known brands and partner brands, including:

Churchill, Privilege, Green Flag, NIG, RBS, Natwest, Ulster Bank, Coutts, Yorkshire Bank, Clydesdale Bank, Royal London, Prudential, Nationwide, Sainsbury’s, HSBC and Zurich

There are bound to be differences in the cover provided under different brands, but there are similarities in the policies too, so the same issue may arise with any policy underwritten by UKI: my advice would be to check your policy to be sure.

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