When you own a vintage vehicle, whether you use it daily or just on weekends, it’s crucial to ensure it’s properly insured.
- What is Classic Car Insurance?
- How Old Does a Car Have to Be for Classic Insurance?
- What Does Classic Car Insurance Cover?
- Can You Get Cheap Classic Car Insurance?
- How Can I Reduce the Cost of My Classic Car Insurance?
- Classic Car Fines to Watch Out For
- Classic Car Exemptions
- Frequently asked questions
In this guide, we’ll provide all the essential details you need to insure a classic car and help you compare different insurance quotes effectively.
What is Classic Car Insurance?
Understanding Classic Car Insurance
Classic car insurance, often referred to as vintage car insurance, is a type of policy specifically designed for older, classic vehicles. This insurance is tailored to cater to the unique needs of these cars, which are usually more than just a mode of transport.
Key Differences from Standard Car Insurance
While this policy shares similarities with standard car insurance, there are notable differences. It’s generally assumed that a classic car is not used as a daily driver but rather for occasional use, particularly for leisure or display purposes at car shows and events. This limited use typically results in more favourable insurance terms.
Owners of classic cars should be aware that insurance providers might have specific criteria to classify a vehicle as ‘classic’. This can include the car’s age, model, and historical significance.
Additionally, insurers might stipulate conditions regarding the car’s storage and maintenance to ensure it’s kept in prime condition.
By understanding these aspects, classic car owners can choose the most suitable insurance plan that offers the best protection for their prized vehicle.
How Old Does a Car Have to Be for Classic Insurance?
General Criteria for Classic Car Insurance
When it comes to determining what qualifies as a classic car for insurance purposes, the criteria can be quite specific and less based on the nostalgic image of vintage vehicles.
Most insurance providers in the UK tend to align with the definition provided by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), which considers a car to be classic if it is over 15 years old and has a market value of at least £15,000.
Tax Exemption Criteria
In addition to insurance considerations, there’s also the aspect of tax exemption to consider. For a car to qualify for tax exemption in the UK, it needs to be at least 40 years old.
This age threshold highlights a more traditional view of what constitutes a classic car and recognises the historical significance of such vehicles.
Variations Among Insurers
It’s important to note that insurance companies might have their distinct definitions and criteria for classic car insurance. These can vary in terms of the vehicle’s age, value, and usage.
Therefore, owners must check with individual insurers to understand their specific requirements and ensure that their vehicle meets these criteria before taking out a policy.
Importance of Accurate Classification
Properly classifying your vehicle is essential, as it can significantly impact the insurance cover and premiums. Classic cars often require specialised care and maintenance, and their insurance cover is tailored to reflect these needs.
Misclassifying a car can lead to inadequate cover or higher costs, making it vital for owners to fully understand and meet their chosen insurer’s classic car criteria.
What Does Classic Car Insurance Cover?
Core Elements of Classic Car Insurance
Classic car insurance typically includes the fundamental protections found in a standard car insurance policy. These are:
- Third-party insurance: This is the basic level of cover, safeguarding against damage to other people and their vehicles.
- Third-party, fire, and theft insurance: This extends the third-party cover to include protection for your classic car against fire damage and theft.
- Comprehensive cover: This is the most inclusive option, covering damages to you, your car, and other people or vehicles in case of injury or damage.
Unique Aspects of Classic Car Insurance
A key distinction of classic car insurance is the potential presence of certain limits or restrictions. For instance, policies may include a mileage limit, reflecting the expected infrequent use of classic cars.
This is important as classic vehicles are often considered collectors’ items and not daily drivers, so their insurance reflects this less frequent usage.
Additional Insurance Add-ons for Classic Cars
Like standard car insurance, classic car insurance policies also offer various add-ons to enhance protection:
- Breakdown cover: Essential for safeguarding your classic car in case of a breakdown, this cover ensures prompt and appropriate handling, securing, and repair of your vehicle.
- Legal protection: In the event of an accident, this additional cover can provide financial support for any legal costs incurred.
- European cover: For classic car enthusiasts who love to take their vehicles on continental journeys, like driving through the Alps or heading to the South of France, this add-on provides the necessary insurance cover for driving in Europe.
Importance of Tailored Cover
Given the unique nature and value of classic cars, it’s essential to choose a policy that offers tailored cover, addressing the specific needs and risks associated with these vehicles.
This includes considering the age, value, and usage of the classic car to ensure adequate and appropriate insurance protection.
Can You Get Cheap Classic Car Insurance?
Lower Costs of Classic Car Insurance
It’s pleasantly surprising to many that classic car insurance can indeed be cheaper than standard car insurance. This affordability stems from several factors:
- Less Frequent Use: Classic cars are generally driven less often than regular vehicles. This reduced usage lowers the risk of accidents and claims, making insurance cheaper.
- Careful Ownership: Owners of classic cars are known for meticulously maintaining their vehicles. The better care and condition of these cars often translate into lower insurance premiums, as insurers recognise the reduced risk of breakdowns and damages.
Mileage Limits and Policy Restrictions
However, it’s important to note that these cost benefits can come with certain stipulations:
- Mileage Caps: Many classic car insurance policies include a limited mileage cap. This is because the lower insurance cost is partly based on the expectation that the classic car will not be used as a daily driver.
- Adherence to Policy Terms: Exceeding the mileage limit without notifying your insurer can lead to complications with your policy. It’s crucial to stay within the agreed mileage to maintain the validity and benefits of your insurance.
For those seeking to insure their classic vehicle, it’s important to carefully compare policies and understand the terms and conditions. Being aware of any limitations, such as mileage restrictions, and ensuring that your usage aligns with these conditions, is key to securing effective and affordable insurance for your classic car.
Ensuring Adequate Cover
While cost is a significant factor, it’s also vital to ensure that the chosen insurance policy provides adequate cover for your classic car’s specific needs.
This includes considering factors such as the car’s age, value, and the likelihood of needing specific parts or specialist repairs. Balancing affordability with comprehensive cover is essential for protecting your classic vehicle effectively.
How Can I Reduce the Cost of My Classic Car Insurance?
Limiting Annual Mileage
One effective way to lower your classic car insurance premium is to agree to an annual limited mileage. Many insurers offer discounts for limited use, as it reduces the risk of accidents and wear. However, be cautious with the mileage cap you agree to; exceeding it can invalidate your insurance.
Enhancing Vehicle Security
Improving the security of your classic car can also lead to cost savings. Classic cars, due to their age and desirability, can be targets for theft.
By fitting additional security measures like an alarm or a tracking device, and ensuring the vehicle is stored in a secure location, preferably a locked garage overnight, you can significantly reduce the risk and, consequently, the insurance cost.
Insurance costs can rise with modifications to your classic car. Many insurers are wary of covering modified cars as they can change the vehicle’s performance and value.
It’s crucial to disclose any modifications to your insurer, no matter how minor they may seem. Failure to do so can lead to your cover being invalidated.
Joining a Classic Car Club
Membership in a classic car club can sometimes lead to exclusive discounts on insurance. While not a guaranteed way to reduce costs, these clubs often have partnerships with insurance providers, offering members special rates.
Shopping Around for Quotes
Lastly, one of the most straightforward methods to find a cheaper policy is to compare classic car insurance quotes from various providers.
This can be done easily through platforms like Comparoo, where you enter your details and receive a range of quotes. Comparing these offers allows you to choose a policy that best fits your needs and budget.
Tailoring Insurance to Your Needs
It’s important to balance cost-saving measures with ensuring adequate cover for your classic car. Tailoring your policy to your vehicle’s specific use, value, and risk factors is key to getting effective, yet affordable, classic car insurance.
Classic Car Fines to Watch Out For
Owning a classic car involves unique legal considerations compared to modern vehicles. Being aware of these can help avoid fines or penalty points. Here are some key rules and potential offences for classic car owners:
1. Using Original Tyres
Offence: Driving your vehicle in a dangerous condition
Penalty: Up to £2,500 fine + 3 penalty points
Classic cars often come with their original tyres, which might not meet modern safety standards. Current regulations require tyres to have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters and around the entire circumference.
They must also be free from defects like cuts. Non-compliance can result in significant fines and penalty points.
2. Car Not in Proper Working Order
Highway Code Rule: 89 (Vehicle condition)
Offence: Driving your vehicle in a dangerous condition
Penalty: Up to £2,500 fine + 3 penalty points
The risk of wear and tear increases with the age of the car. Driving a classic car that has any part not functioning correctly – such as engine problems or faulty brakes – breaches the Highway Code, attracting fines and penalty points.
3. Idling Your Engine at a Car Show
Highway Code Rule: 123 (Driver and the environment)
Offence: Leaving the engine running while stationary
Penalty: £20 to £80 fine
At car shows, which are popular among classic car enthusiasts, it’s important to turn off the engine when the car is stationary. Violating this rule can result in fines, which may increase if a Traffic Management Order is in place.
4. Modifying Your Exhaust
Offence: Exceeding the maximum noise level for vehicle type
Penalty: £50 fixed penalty notice
Modifying a classic car’s exhaust to enhance the engine sound can lead to legal issues. It’s illegal to modify the exhaust system to make it noisier than the original model, leading to fines.
5. Driving with Children without Seatbelts
Offence: Violating seat belt laws
Penalty: £500 fine
Many classic cars were built before seat belts became standard. Driving with children under three years old in a car without seat belts is prohibited. Children over three must sit in the back seats. Non-compliance with seat belt laws can result in hefty fines.
For classic car owners, it’s crucial to be aware of these specific rules and ensure compliance to avoid legal issues. Keeping the car in good condition, adhering to safety standards, and understanding the legal requirements for driving with passengers are key aspects of responsible classic car ownership.
Regular maintenance checks and staying updated with the latest road safety regulations can help in avoiding these common pitfalls.
Classic Car Exemptions
Owning a classic car comes with certain legal exemptions that differentiate it from modern vehicles. Being aware of these can help classic car owners in managing their vehicles lawfully and efficiently.
1. Exemption from Yearly MOT
Criteria: Vehicle built or first registered over 40 years ago
Condition: No substantial changes in the last 30 years (e.g., chassis, body, axles, engine)
Classic cars that meet these criteria are exempt from the need for an annual MOT test. However, if your classic car is younger than 40 years or has undergone significant changes in the past 30 years, it will still require regular MOT testing to ensure it meets road safety and environmental standards.
2. Seat Belt Installation and Usage
Condition: Original design without seat belts
If your classic car was originally manufactured without seat belts, you are not legally required to retrofit them. Consequently, you won’t be penalised for not wearing a seat belt in such a vehicle.
However, there are strict rules regarding children: those under three years old cannot be carried in a car without seat belts, and children over three must sit in the back seats.
3. Vehicle Tax Exemption
Criteria: Vehicles built before 1 January 1982
Requirement: Vehicle still needs to be taxed, even if no payment is required
As of April 2022, classic cars built before 1 January 1982 are exempt from paying vehicle tax. Despite this exemption, it is mandatory to still go through the process of taxing your vehicle, even if no payment is due. This ensures that your vehicle is legally recognised as tax-exempt and is compliant with the law.
Ensuring Compliance and Safety
While these exemptions can offer benefits to classic car owners, it’s crucial to ensure that your vehicle is still safe and roadworthy. Regular maintenance checks and adherence to safety best practices are essential, even in the absence of legal requirements like the MOT.
Additionally, staying informed about the latest legal requirements and changes in classic car legislation is key to enjoying the privileges of classic car ownership responsibly.
Frequently asked questions
You might be able to use your classic car as a daily driver, but there are important considerations regarding insurance. Classic car insurance policies often come with annual mileage restrictions, which could make daily use impractical.
The reason classic car insurance is typically less expensive than standard car insurance is the assumption that the classic car will see less frequent use. If you intend to drive your classic car daily, it’s crucial to communicate this when arranging your insurance.
Being upfront about your intended usage will influence the terms and specifics of your policy, potentially including the cost.
It’s essential to find a balance between enjoying your classic car and adhering to the limitations and requirements set by your insurance policy.
Investing in a classic car can seem like a costly venture, especially for those not already involved in the classic car scene. However, owning a classic car comes with certain financial advantages.
If your classic car is over 40 years old, it is exempt from the legal requirement to undergo an MOT test annually. This exemption can lead to savings in maintenance and testing costs.
Furthermore, if your classic car was manufactured before 1 January 1982, you are exempt from paying vehicle tax. Though you won’t have to pay the tax, it’s still necessary to apply for a vehicle tax exemption to legally acknowledge your car’s tax-exempt status.
If your car is over 40 years old, it’s not required to undergo an MOT test. However, you’re free to get it tested voluntarily if you choose.
It’s important to note that if your car has undergone major modifications, like fitting a new engine or significant bodywork, in the last 30 years, it might not be exempt from needing a valid MOT anymore.
If you have any doubts, you can find government advice here.
Agreed Value refers to a pre-determined value of your car that you and your insurance provider agree upon, instead of basing it on the current market value.
In case of an accident where your car is written off, you’ll receive compensation based on this agreed valuation, ensuring you’re reimbursed for the value you and your insurer have established.