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Revealed: six surprising things your car insurance won’t cover

When taking out car insurance, it’s easy to think that your policy will cover you for everything and anything that goes wrong. This isn’t always the case, however, and there are a number of different ways your car insurance policy can be invalidated – meaning your insurer will not pay out if and when you need to make a claim. From personalised number plates to putting in the wrong fuel in your car, Which? takes a look at six surprising things that your car insurance won’t cover if you ran into trouble with them.

Personalised number plates

Personalised number plates plates are becoming an increasingly popular investment for cars – last year almost 375,000 were sold by the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). One unique and highly sought after number plate that spells out ‘TAXI’ sold for GBP92,000 at an auction at the end of February. Unfortunately, despite the sentimental and cost value that personalised number plates have, most car insurance[1] providers won’t cover them.

Research by GoCompare revealed that out of 302 comprehensive car insurance polices, only 19 specifically covered the loss of a personalised number plate if your car was lost or stolen. Only 16 car insurance policies provided cover for GBP5,000 or more. But why is this a problem?

Well, the registration number belongs to the car, not the individual. If your car has been written off, you’ll either have to buy back the personalised plate from your insurer. If the insurer gets rid of the car, all rights to your personalised plate go with the vehicle, meaning you’ve lost your investment.

Considering that some personalised plates can cost more than GBP25,000, this could leave some drivers severely out of pocket. If you find yourself in this position, you have to arrange for the number to be transferred to another vehicle or retained on a certificate in sufficient time before the claim is settled. According to GoCompare, if a car with a personalised plate is stolen and not recovered, its owner will have to wait 12 months to get the number plate back.

To reclaim the personalised plate, they will also have to prove that the car had a valid MOT and tax at the time of theft. It’s important to check your car insurance policy before taking it out to see if your personalised number plate will be covered. If you already have car insurance, contact your provide before getting a plate made to check if your policy could provide any cover should the worst happen.

Matt Oliver from GoCompare told Which? Money that ‘when you register a personalised plate to a vehicle you need to tell your insurer immediately, otherwise your policy could be invalidated and, particularly if you’ve paid a lot for a registration number, you should consider whether it’s properly insured.’

Modified cars

Most car insurance policies will not cover the cost of repairing or replacing non-standard modified car parts. Car modifications can include but are not limited to the following:

  • adding a turbo or supercharger to your engine
  • modifying your car wheels
  • fitting uprated breaks
  • removing or replacing seats
  • tinting windows
  • changing the steering wheel.

Optional extras and accessories offered by car manufacturers, as well as adaptations made due to a disability, may be covered by some policies but must be delcared and agreed by your car insurer before you take out cover.

Ian Flower, Motor Insurance Specialist at NFU Mutual said: ‘It is also important to inform your insurer of any modifications to your vehicle as these could potentially invalidate your claim.’

Insuring the main driver as a named driver

Your car insurance policy will be invalidated if you name the main driver on your policy as the named driver, which is often referred to as ‘fronting’. This could include a scenario where you insure your daughter or son as an additional driver on your policy when, in fact, they will be the main user of the car. This may seem like a tempting way to reduce the cost of insurance, for younger drivers in particular, as the premium price will be based predominantly on your driving history and not theirs.

But doing this runs the risk of invalidating your insurance altogether, leaving out of pocket when you come to make a claim. Black box car insurance[2], also known as ‘telematics’, can help younger drivers get cheaper car insurance. For more information take a look at our short video.

Putting the wrong fuel in your car

Using the wrong fuel by absent-mindedly putting petrol in a diesel car (or vice versa) is a common mistake that affects around 150,000 people a year.

It can have very costly consequences – but most car insurance policies will not cover it. According to Defaqto, out of 300 car insurance policies on the market, 240 (80%) exclude cover for putting the wrong fuel in your car. While Defaqto also found that 149 out of 300 car insurance policies do provide cover for using the wrong fuel under ‘accidental damage’, most of these will require you to pay an excess and potentially lose any no claims discount you’ve earned.

If you have used the wrong fuel that you don’t start your engine and get your tank drained and cleaned immediately. Prices for this start at around GBP130, but your car insurance policy won’t cover this as standard. A very small number of car insurance polices, 23 out of 300 (8%) offer misfuelling cover as an optional ‘add-on’ feature, instead.

But it will, of course, come at an additional cost.

Using your car for business purposes

Most standard car insurance policies will not cover your car if you use it for business purposes. Before you take out a car insurance policy, your provider will ask you to specify what purposes you will be using car for which will affect the price of your premium. These usually fall into three categories: social, commuting and business.

Most standard car insurance policies are designed to cover social and commuting purposes such as driving to the shops, visiting friends, or driving to and from work. Drivers using their car for business purposes are treated differently because they are often seen as higher risk and might need to undertake activities like:

  • carrying extra equipment
  • driving on unfamiliar roads
  • using their car more regularly.

Business car insurance often comes at a higher premium but if you try to rely on standard policy, your car insurance could be invalidated should the worst happen. If plan on using your car to chauffeur other people, you may need to get taxi insurance instead.

Taxi insurance includes private hire cars, minicabs or black Hackney carriages. Ian Flower at NFU Mutual said: ‘As is general practice in the insurance industry, we require customers to declare the type of use of their car eg personal, commuting or business, so that they are properly protected in the event of an accident.’

Track racing or events

Your car insurance policy will not cover you if your car is used for racing of any kind, including formal track racing events. It is possible to get track day cover, which is designed to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your car if you experience any damage while taking part in a race event.

Track day insurance often comes at a higher premium and with a hefty excess to cover the higher level of risk that racing brings.

For help finding the best car insurance policy for you, take a look at our newly released independent car insurance scores[3].

Which? experts have analysed the standard policies of more than 30 car insurance companies[4] and surveyed thousands of policyholders to generate impartial scores to help you decide which insurer is right for you.


  1. ^ car insurance (
  2. ^ Black box car insurance (
  3. ^ car insurance scores (
  4. ^ car insurance companies (

YouTube expands restrictions on videos featuring firearms and firearm accessories

YouTube has updated its policy on content featuring firearms, expanding the list of accessories that cannot be featured in videos that sell them or instruct users how to manufacture or install these accessories, reports Motherboard.

Under the new restrictions, accessories that cannot be featured in videos that intend “to sell firearms or certain firearms accessories through direct sales” or “links to sites that sell these items” include those that enable a firearm to simulate automatic fire or convert a firearm to automatic fire (including bump stocks, gatling triggers, drop-in auto sears, and conversion kits), and high-capacity magazines. Videos can also no longer provide instructions on converting firearms to automatic or simulated automatic firing, manufacturing firearms, ammunition, silencers, and the aforementioned accessories. Lastly, videos cannot show users how to install these accessories.

YouTube already had a ban on videos that link to the sale of firearms and bump stocks.

It last updated its policy on firearms in October 2017, when it banned tutorials on adding bump stocks to firearms following the Las Vegas massacre.

As Motherboard points out, there are creators who have already felt the results of these new guidelines.

YouTube has suspended the channel for Florida-based gun manufacturer Spike’s Tactical, stating that “YouTube doesn’t allow content that encourages or promotes violent or dangerous acts that have an inherent risk of serious physical harm or death.”

What sort of router do I need?

The free routers supplied by the big ISPs – BT, Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk – are generally a lot better these days; time was when your provider-supplied hardware was little more than a cheapo white labelled router with a logo slapped on the side. That said, what you’re offered by your ISP might still not be what you need for your home; you might want something that’s got more Ethernet ports or you might want a router which has the capability to fall back to a 4G connection should your fixed-line provider experience an outage. Or, there are now so many devices in your home all using WiFi, you’re in the market for something to improve coverage in rooms as well as getting a new router.

For whatever reason, if you’re having connection issues and have tried all of our tips for fixing your broadband connection[1], it may be time you consider buying a new router – our guide will help you choose the best router for your home.

Should I get a new router or a WiFi booster?

If your Internet access is fine and dandy as long as you’re near to the router, but terrible everywhere else, you might find it’s more economical to buy some WiFi boosters. As well as being cheaper than shelling out for a completely new router in some cases, it might be a more economical solution too. If you live in an older house with thick stone walls, or you have rooms in the basement or attic your brand new router, while otherwise powerful, can’t reach every corner of your home.

Here’s where WiFi boosters come in handy. Some merely bounce the signal around your home – these are call WiFi repeaters or range extenders[2] and comprise two separate routers in them – one to receive the signal and the other to send it on. Others, like Powerline adaptors, use your home wiring as an ad hoc network; you simply plug in the first to a plug socket near your router and then plug in your router via ethernet cable.

The second plugs into a power outlet near the device you want to power with a better connection. That second plug will have one or more Ethernet ports you can use to connect your desktop PC, smart TV or console in another room. Some will also feature WiFi radios, improving wireless coverage.

Alternatively, you could connect this to a second router to provide even stronger coverage.

ADSL, VDSL and Cable Routers: Compatibility

Not all routers are compatible with all types of Internet services, so it’s important you check the router you want to buy will work. If you’re getting your Internet from a provider using BT’s Openreach network (i.e. Sky, TalkTalk, Plusnet, EE), you’ll need a router that’ll work with ADSL and, if you’re getting a Fibre to the Cabinet-based service, VDSL.

If you’re after a replacement for your old Virgin Media router, you’ll need something that will work with DOCSIS technology. The manufacturer should include a list of the ISPs it works with or at least reveal whether it works with ADSL/ADSL2/ADSL2+ (standard broadband) VDSL2 Fibre (Fibre broadband) or DOCSIS (cable broadband).

How to set up a router

When you take your new router out of the box, you probably don’t want to be messing around with it to make it work with your broadband service and devices. Choosing a router with an easy set up[3] is vital to get you up and running out of the box.

How you set your router up with your existing network varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and ISP to ISP. In most cases, you’ll just need to connect your router up using an ethernet cable to your computer (and of course a connection to your phone line or cable socket, depending on the type of broadband you’re using). You can then access the router’s settings menu (you will need to enter your router’s IP address and username and password in a computer browser to access the control panel) where you can enter your ISP username and password, DNS settings and any other details your ISP specifies.

For example, on TalkTalk they are:

  • Username: Your telephone number followed by – for example,
  • Password: Your password
  • VPI: 0
  • VCI: 38
  • MTU: 1432
  • DNS settings: Automatic
  • Encapsulation: PPP over ATM (PPPoA) using VC-MUX

Modulation Type: Auto This information should be available from your ISP. Once your router is working with your internet, it’s time to set up the connection to work wirelessly with your devices.

Most routers offer WPS for connecting computers, networked printers, game consoles and other devices you might want to hook up. This means you just need to tap the WPS button on the router and the same button (or setting from the device’s menu) and hey presto! Your Wi-Fi will work with your external devices.

It’s a much better option than having to connect with your network password and also means if you change the password (see next section), the devices will still be connected. However, if your router or devices don’t support WPS, you can connect by searching for the network you want to join and entering the password when prompted.

Easy-to-change router settings

Whichever router you choose to replace your ISP-issued one with, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to change the settings[4], such as the network’s name to make it easier to identify, the password and privacy settings. Most router settings can be accessed by typing the router’s IP address into your browser window, followed by the user name and password as detailed in the documentation.

The interface and available settings will vary depending on the router manufacturer, but in most cases, it will be split into sections so it’s easy to find where you need to change the settings you require. Some of the settings you should be able to change include the SSID (name) of your network, the password, the privacy options and security type. Some allow you to apply parental controls and change the wireless channel if it supports multiple options.

Wireless routers: Multiple bands

Routers use frequency bands to beam a WiFi connection to devices.

There are three types of router – single, dual and tri-band – that support either one band, two or three at the same time. Single band routers operate on the 2.4GHz frequency, which is great at penetrating thick walls and has a long range. Routers with only one band are also cheaper than their dual or tri-band counterparts.

However, the technology is outdated now and speeds are slower than those supporting more bands. There’s also likely to be more interference from other devices because it’s the most widely used internet band. Dual band routers add 5GHz frequency into the mix, meaning you can choose to operate your network with the 2.4GHz or faster 5GHz band.

5GHz doesn’t travel as far, nor is it as effective at penetrating solid walls like the 2.4GHz band, but it has twice the bandwidth and because not all external devices support it, there’s less likely to be as much interference, making it a faster option. The newest type of router, tri-band, adds in a third frequency – an additional 5GHz band. This means there’s less interference than dual band routers and the signal works better if multiple people are using the same network at the same time, because it’s adding an additional connection option.

However, tri-band routers are much more expensive than single or dual-band routers, so be prepared to stump up the cash if you want a top-of-the-range router.

Wireless routers: Range

The range of a broadband router – ie., how far from where your router is placed you’ll be able to get a reliable connection – is closely linked to the band it uses to beam your connection to devices around your home. There are also other factors, such as the makeup of the property you’re using it in. If you live in a modern building with thin plasterboard walls, it’s likely your connection will reach much further than an old, brick construction dwelling.

Interference with other devices and how many computers, phones, tablets games consoles etc., are using the same router will also have an impact. However, the 2.4GHz frequency band does have the best reach, generally, with a range of 150 feet (46m) indoors and 300 feet (92m) outdoors quoted by most router manufacturers, as long as there’s nothing like trees or sheds in the way. A 5GHz connection generally has a range of about a third of this (50 feet (15m) inside or 100 feet (30m) outside), although it’s impossible to say whether these would be the range you can expect because it all depends on your particular home’s construction, how many devices are connected and any other equipment that may interfere with your connection.

Number of Ethernet and USB ports If you connect a large number of devices to the internet using ethernet rather than Wi-Fi, such as TVs, speaker systems, games consoles or more, you’ll need to make sure the router you decide to buy has enough ports to serve all the peripheries. One of the routers sporting the most LAN ports is the Netgear Nighthawk X10[5] with seven in total, while the average is around four.

If a router ticks all the boxes, but doesn’t have enough ports for all your devices though, don’t despair – you can buy an ethernet switch to add on extras. Of course, you will need to use one of your router’s ports to add it onto your network, but it’s probably a cheaper option compared to buying a new router with lots more ethernet ports. Some routers have USB ports, while others don’t.

The general reason to have a USB port built into your router is so you can share content with other people on your network. The most common reason devices to add to your router includes a USB thumb drive, a media server or storage device that doesn’t already support network data transfer. Whether you need one or how many you need depends on whether you have a USB-enabled device you want to share on your network and how many separate devices you’d like to share.

You may also want to look into whether the router you’ve got your eye on uses SM© USB 2.0 or SM© USB 3.0 – the latter of which offers faster data transfer speeds.


MU-MIMO (multiple user, multiple input, multiple output) is a relatively new Wi-Fi standard that makes a router more suitable for homes where multiple people are using the same connection concurrently for data-intensive applications. For example, if you like to stream videos while your other half likes to play streamed games, you’re likely to see a certain degree of latency on both sides with a standard SU-MIMO (single user, multiple input, multiple output) router. With MU-MIMO, as the name suggests, multiple people can use the same connection simultaneously, because it comprises multiple channels working at the same time.

This means each device connected to the same router essentially has its own router through which to channel data. Although MU-MIMO technology has been around for more than three years now, very few routers actually use the technology, so you may have to find you’ll have to shop around to find what you’re after, especially if you need to tick a lot of the other boxes we’ve mentioned here.

Software and security

If you’re concerned about network security[6], some routers come preinstalled with third party security solutions to make your network even more secure. The McAfee Secure Home Platform comes preinstalled on a selection of routers and the company has just teamed up with Telefonica in Europe and Latin America to offer its security solution on all routers provided by the company.

Although not generally available in the UK yet, other security firms are offering super-secure routers already. Norton (one of Symantec’s brands) has launched the Norton Core – a wireless router than protects your network from hacks, malware and other nasties that could infiltrate your smart home. If security is your major concern, it may be worth looking into routers that allow you to install third party firmware or software to protect against hacks.

For example, TP-Link allows you to flash its routers with third party firmware, as will Linksys.


The final question you need to ask yourself is what can you afford? Routers come in at a huge array of price points, from GBP20, right up to hundreds of pounds for the more powerful options. As a router is a key part of your home’s internet infrastructure, it’s crucial you choose one that includes all the features you need rather than solely looking at price because you could end up choosing one that’s completely useless for your household’s needs.

There’s a huge array of considerations you need to make when choosing a new router, but what’s key is youdecide what your household uses it for, how your house is built and your primary concerns (ie., security, speed, range) before jumping into what can be a very expensive decision.


  1. ^ fixing your broadband connection (
  2. ^ WiFi repeaters or range extenders (
  3. ^ easy set up (
  4. ^ change the settings (
  5. ^ Netgear Nighthawk X10 (
  6. ^ network security (

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