If you own a ‘classic’ car, it may well be your pride and joy. It might hold sentimental value, it’s probably oozing automotive style, and it could well be a rarity on the roads. Chances are, it will certainly turn more than a few heads.
It is also likely to be worth a few quid, and it probably receives an awful lot of care and attention to keep it looking and performing at its best.
All this makes getting specialist insurance protection something of a no-brainer to protect your vehicle against damage and theft. So what should you look out for when buying or renewing classic car insurance?
What counts as a ‘classic’ car?
The word ‘classic’ tends to get thrown around a lot in today’s world, but as far as automobiles are concerned, it has quite a precise, official definition
According to the government (HM Revenue & Customs, to be precise), a car is considered ‘classic’ if it is:
- at least 15 years old and
- has a market value of £15,000 or more.
- But car insurance companies have their own set of criteria for determining whether a car is classic, depending on age, make and model (so you could even find you’ve been driving a classic car without realising it).
This matters because the cover provided by a classic car insurance policy will differ from a standard policy – more cover in some areas, potentially less in others, and with conditions attached relating to mileage and usage. And, in some case, the conditions imposed mean the premium for specialist cover might be less.
Is classic car insurance cheaper than standard car insurance?
Yes, it can be, because insurers tend to view classic cars as lower risk. They are not usually driven every day, they’re not typically used for school runs or driving to the shops, and they often have lower speed limits.
Owners of classic cars also tend to keep their vehicles in pristine condition and in a safe place such as a locked garage.
As a result, classic cars are less likely to be involved in an accident or stolen, and their owners are less likely to make a claim. Insurers reward this lower risk with cheaper premiums.
What does classic car insurance cover?
Classic car insurance provides the same cover as standard car insurance – you’ll be covered for the cost of repairs if your car is damaged in an accident, and you’ll be covered if your car is stolen.
Your third party liabilities in the event of your being deemed responsible for an accident that damages another person’s property or injures or kills them will also be covered, as will any of your medical costs.
But on top of this, you can also arrange extra cover for the following:
It can take months or years to restore a classic car. If yours is being restored by a professional, they might already have cover in place to protect your car while they work on it. But if they don’t, or you’re restoring your classic car yourself, you can buy insurance to make sure it’s covered during this time.
As the vehicle is not on the road during this time, restoration cover will usually cost less than full insurance protection. But remember, even if your car is safely tucked up in the garage, it still needs to be insured.
Here’s what the government says on the matter:
You must have motor insurance for your vehicle if you use it on roads and in public places.
You do not need to insure your vehicle if it is kept off the road and declared as off the road (SORN). This rule is called ‘continuous insurance enforcement’.
If not, you could:
- get a fixed penalty of £100
- have your vehicle wheel-clamped, impounded or destroyed
- face a court prosecution, with a possible maximum fine of £1,000.
Track day racing
If you’re planning to drive your car around racetracks – even if only at a leisurely pace – you’ll need the appropriate cover against damage and accidents. Your premium is likely to be higher depending on how often you race or how many events you take part in each year.
Vintage car shows
Make sure you’re covered for dents and scrapes if you’re planning to display your classic car at fairs and shows. Third-party liability cover will also be included in case you damage someone else’s property or injure someone.
Car insurance policies usually provide third-party cover to drive in the EU. But if you’re involved in an accident and you are at fault, you’ll have to pay for any repairs to your own car out of your own pocket. Asking your insurer to increase the level of cover to fully comprehensive could be well worth it.
Classic car insurance won’t always include breakdown cover as standard. If you don’t have cover, compare how much it would cost to include breakdown cover as part of your existing policy against the cost of buying a standalone policy.
Note that some providers won’t offer breakdown cover for classic cars due to their increased risk of breaking down.
Is there a mileage limit with classic car insurance?
Because classic cars are not usually driven every day, many classic car insurance policies will include a cap on the number of miles you can drive each year – staying within the cap can help keep the premium down. Always check this limit when comparing policies to ensure you’re happy it is high enough.
If, once you’ve bought your policy, you believe you will exceed your annual limit, contact your insurer as soon as possible to arrange an extension.
What does an ‘agreed valuation’ mean?
With an agreed valuation, your insurance provider pays out a pre-agreed sum if your classic car is written-off or stolen, rather than the market value. This can be a good option if your car is worth more than the average for a vehicle of a similar model and age.
You must agree this amount with your insurer before you buy your policy, and taking this option might mean you’ll pay more for your policy.
How can I lower the cost of classic car insurance?
As with standard car insurance, there are a number of steps you can take to cut the cost of classic car insurance:
Limit your mileage
Agreeing to an annual mileage limit on your policy will often result in a discount. Just make sure it’s high enough for your needs.
Improve your car’s security
Your car’s age may mean it doesn’t have adequate security features. Simple measures such as fitting an alarm and a tracking device and keeping your car in a locked garage can help deter thieves and keep a lid on premiums.
Cars with modifications can be harder to insure, and providers that do offer cover are likely to charge considerably more. Modifications are therefore best avoided. But if you do make any changes, be sure to inform your insurer at the time you do them (don’t wait until your policy is up for renewal) so that your cover remains valid.
Join a car club
Some insurers will offer a discount of up to 25% if you join a classic car club as they see this as proof you’re committed to driving safely and looking after your vehicle.
An annual membership fee will usually apply, but in return you could take advantage of specialist rates from spare parts suppliers, as well as invitations to various events and track days.
Does my classic car need an MOT?
Classic cars that are more than 40 years old do not require an MOT, providing you have not made any ‘substantial changes’ to the vehicle over the past 20 years. This includes replacing the chassis, body, axles or engine.
It is still wise to get your car checked by a mechanic on a regular basis, however, as it’s your responsibility to keep your car in a roadworthy condition. If you don’t, you could be fined up to £2,500, banned from driving, and receive three penalty points on your licence.
Browse our website to discover what Classic Car Insurance we can offer you.