It’s all in the numbers. VIN numbers, that is. Your car’s Vehicle Identification Number isn’t just a serial number, it also reveals information about equipment levels. Insurance companies use the VIN-revealed information to set premium rates and therein lies the problem for some Tesla owners, according to Electrek.
A Tesla enthusiast with the handle Kman has exposed the VIN-insurance issue on a video on his KmanAuto YouTube channel. Published as public service announcements, two recent KmanAuto videos address the issue of Tesla Model S owners whose insurance premiums have been higher than warranted because of the car’s VINs.
In the first video, streamed from his car apparently while driving with a child in the passenger seat, Kman speaks generally about the VIN issue and mentions another Tesla owner. In each case, the cars they drive are Model S P90Ds without the performance-enhancing Ludicrous Mode option. Their insurance premiums, however, are rated for cars with Ludicrous Mode — information the insurance companies determine from the VIN numbers, according to Kman.
The second video, taken with Kman on his deck, runs longer and has a lot more information. He goes step by step through his Tesla’s VIN number, explaining what each letter or digit represents. A Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode costs $30,000 more than one without, which in Kman’s case means a $200 difference in his 6-month insurance premium — which he expects to be refunded by his insurance company.
It’s likely the issue will be further complicated by the recently introduced Model S 60 and Model X 60. In each case, the cars come standard with access to 60kWh of power, for a price savings of $9,000. Owners can unlock an additional 15kWh by paying for the upgrade at any time. The question raised by Electrek is, will the cars be rated for their current state or for their potential state if unlocked?
In any case, if you own a Tesla, the best course is to check with your insurance company to find out if your premium is accurately based on your car’s equipment.