Is your car a classic?

Is your prized possession a Triumph Stag or a MG Midget? Or maybe it’s an old Morris Minor that has been passed down the generations. If so, you should make sure you arrange appropriate insurance as a standard motor policy might not be good enough for your pride and joy.

What’s defines a ‘classic’?

There is no standard insurance definition of a classic car. Some insurers rate 10-year-old motors as classic while others insist that the car is at least 20 years old. So it’s worth checking the age definition before you request a quote. And if your car is 40 years old, it’s exempt from vehicle excise duty. Most firms also demand that the classic car is not your main vehicle, is only driven a limited mileage, and is kept in a garage when not in use.

Compare quotes

Many mainstream insurers will cover classic cars. A number of specialist firms also cater to the classic car market. But premiums vary from insurer to insurer, so it’s always worth comparing quotes on a comparison website.

Car club

The good news is that classic car insurance is often cheaper than cover for a modern car because a vintage vehicle is typically better maintained and driven less often, resulting in fewer claims.
Members of recognised classic car clubs should also be able to earn a discount on their premium of up to 15% - again on the basis that, if you’ve taken the trouble to join a club, you’re probably the sort of person who cherishes their car.

Comprehensive cover

Most companies offer only comprehensive cover for classic cars. A few will insure third party, or third party fire and theft, but you have to weigh up any cost savings against the potential pitfalls of limited cover. If your car is going to be laid up for any length of time, you might want to drop down to TPF&T. But whatever you do, make sure the car is insured at all times, regardless of whether you take it on the road or not. Under the Continuous Insurance Enforcement rules, all cars must be insured at all times unless you’ve got a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN) from the DVLA. If you don’t have insurance and haven’t got a SORN, you'll be sent a warning letter. The DVLA meshes its records with insurers so there’s a high probability you’ll get found out. Fail to get insurance or a SORN and you’ll have to pay a fixed penalty of £100, which could leap to £1,000 if the matter proceeds to court. You could also have you vehicle seized. Driving uninsured brings a fixed penalty of £300 and six penalty points on your licence – and possibly disqualification.

Laid-up policies

If you have a SORN, you might consider a ‘laid-up’ policy, which covers the vehicle against fire, theft or damage resulting from theft or attempted theft.
A laid up-policy does not include third party insurance, which is the minimum legal requirement unless you have a SORN.

Maximum mileage

A comprehensive policy for a classic car is broadly similar to comprehensive cover for a modern vehicle. But there are some important differences. Classic cars are not usually driven as frequently as modern vehicles so most insurers set a maximum mileage, often about 7,500 miles year. It’s therefore a good idea to find out what will happen if you breach the limit in any year. Is there any flexibility to change the agreed mileage, or will a breach automatically invalidate the policy? If you rarely drive you car and are likely to drive fewer miles than the maximum, you will probably be able to negotiate a lower mileage in return for a lower premium.

Market value

Classic car owners should pay particular attention to the amount the policy would pay out if the car was written off, because the car’s value can lead to disputes over claims. [embed width="560" height="315"][/embed] Some insurers pay out the ‘market value’ of the car in the event of a write off. But it’s not always easy to determine the true value of a classic car, so the market value might not reflect its actual worth. Experts therefore recommend that you agree the value with the insurer when you take out the cover. You might have to pay a higher premium, but the policy will then pay out the agreed value if the car is a write off.

Up-to-date valuation

The insurer might ask for evidence of the car’s agreed value, which could include an independent valuation by an expert, who will probably charge a fee. It’s also sensible to ensure that you can update the agreed value of the vehicle each year. Many vintage models - unlike modern cars - increase in value as they get older. If you don’t update the figure you could be left with an insurance shortfall.

Replacement parts

Cover for replacement parts is another potential flashpoint. If your car is particularly valuable, you might want any replacements to be authentic, so make sure the insurance is adequate.

No claims

The other big difference between standard and classic car insurance is that you do not normally build up a no-claims discount on classic car cover. The flat rates make it all the more important to shop around for quotes, particularly at renewal.

Rallies and shows

Classic car insurance usually covers events such as vintage rallies and shows, as long as there are no races. If the event is abroad, however, you will probably have to pay an additional premium. You should also contact your insurer if you hire out your classic car for weddings. Some will offer limited cover, but you might have to take out a more specialist policy.

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