Classic cars are often cheaper to insure than modern-day cars, but buying insurance for a classic car is a bit different than you might be used to. Here we'll explain some of the nuances of classic car insurance so you can be sure to get the coverage you need—at the right price.
Important Features and Terms
From agreed values to modifications, it's important to understand what classic car insurance terms mean. Not doing so could mean your car is severely under insured or that your insurance could be invalidated, should you ever need to claim.
This means the insurer assesses your car so you can agree on its true value. Agreed values are beneficial for classic cars in better-than-average condition, cars with low yearly mileage, or cars that have been modified. This is particularly important for classic cars where market values can fluctuate and depend heavily on the condition of a car.
Having an agreed value can ensure you're financially protected—for example, in case of a claim for theft or destruction you'll get the full agreed value (less the excess, of course). If you don't have an agreed value you might find that at the time of a claim, the insurer values the car at a much lower value than you would.
For example, if you think your car is worth £45,000 because of its low mileage and pristine condition but the insurer says the make and model of your car equates to a market value of £35,000, you could be out by £10,000 if the car is stolen or written off.
To arrive at an agreed value you might be required to submit photos of the car; this may not be required for cars with a lower value (e.g. less than £20,000).
It's critical to declare any modifications or you could invalidate your insurance. Modifications can include using non-standard parts or making changes that alter the car, such as adding uprated brakes or power-assisted steering kits.
Most classic car policies will limit the number of miles you drive, such as 5,000 miles per year. The car also can't be your primary car in most cases. You may be required to provide a mileage reading for each insured vehicle every year, confirmed with a signed declaration.
Extra Coverages for Classic Cars
Many classic car owners enjoy participating in club car events or even hire out their vehicle for weddings. These types of use will require extra insurance.
Be sure to ask your classic car insurance provider if they'll cover rallies, track days, wedding hire use, or any other way you use your car. You may need extra liability insurance, cover for other drivers (in the case of wedding hire), etc.
- Wedding car hire
- Track Day
- Rally cover
- Cover during restoration
- Cover while being displayed
- Breakdown cover
Breakdown cover is pretty important for classic cars, as they may be more prone to breaking down than modern cars! You can buy this as a standalone policy or ask your insurer about including coverage into your classic car insurance. Sometimes it's cheaper to buy a policy separately so be sure to compare prices before signing up.
Is Classic Car Insurance Cheaper?
Yes, classic car insurance is usually cheaper than regular car insurance for a modern car. This is primarily because classic cars tend to be driven infrequently, so the odds are lower that they'll be involved in an accident.
That said, a classic car that is very valuable will cost more to insure. The insurer would need to pay a large sum if the car were to be stolen or wrecked in an accident, so the premium would need to reflect the value of the car.
Classic car insurance discounts
Classic car insurance is often cheaper because classic cars are typically driven very few miles each year. In fact, policies start from under £100 for some vehicles.
That said, there are ways to reduce your premium even further. For example, when applying for insurance be sure to take a good look at your annual mileage so you don't pay for more miles than you need. Here are some ways to save money when buying classic car insurance:
- Accurately estimate the number of miles you drive your car each year
- Store your car in a secure location (e.g. a locked garage)
- Compare quotes from multiple providers before buying
- Enquire about 'laid up' insurance if you store your car in winter months or it's off the road for repairs
- Join a car club to save up to 15% with some providers
When does a car become a classic?
It depends who you ask. HMRC considers cars over 15 years old to be classics. But the road tax authorities consider cars to be 'historic' once they're 40 years old. And insurers often use 25 years as a cut-off point for classic cars. Let's dig into the different treatments.
Road Tax Purposes
According to gov.uk, a 'historic' car is one that is at least 40 years old. Historic cars are exempt from paying road tax. So if your vehicle was built before 1 January 1981, for example, you can apply to stop paying for vehicle tax from 1 April 2021. However you still need to tax your vehicle even if you don't have to pay.
However, the HMRC defines a classic car differently. For the purposes of calculating car benefits, the HMRC considers a classic car to be:
- Over 15 years old
- With a market value greater than the list price and at least £15,000
When does a car become a classic for insurance?
Insurers will have a different notion of 'what age car qualifies for classic insurance'. While the cut off can vary from one insurer to the next, it's common for insurers to consider a vehicle that is at least 25 years old as a 'classic'. However this does vary. For example, LV counts cars as classic once they're 35 years old. Whether or not an insurer considers your car to be a classic will also depend upon how often it's driven and its condition.
According to the Irish Veteran and Vintage Car Club (IVVCC), a 'classic' car is one that was registered between 1946 and 30 years ago (so 1991 in the year 2021). Before this, they categorise cars as post vintage, vintage, veteran and antique:
|When is a car a classic?|
|Veteran||1905 - 1918|
|Vintage||1919 - 1930|
|Post Vintage||1931 - 1945|
|Classic||1946 - 1991|
Note: According to the IVVCC, the range for 'classic' cars changes each year—it starts in 1946 and ends 30 years ago. So in 2022 the range would be 1946 - 1992, for example.
Who Insures Classic Cars?
Here is a list of some of the many providers (insurers and brokers) of classic car insurance in the UK, listed in alphabetical order:
- Adrian Flux
- Carole Nash
- Direct Line
- Footman James
- it's Classic Car Insurance
- Lancaster Insurance Services
- RH Specialist Insurance
Number of Classic Cars UK
How many classic cars are there in the UK? There are 385,019 classic cars in the UK if we consider cars older than 25 years (which is frequently the insurance definition of 'classic car').
But if you use a different cut-off point to define what is and isn't a classic car, the figure changes. There are 309,089 cars that are at least 30 years old in the UK. Using the HMRC's metric of 15 years of age for a classic car, there are a whopping 4,000,340 classic cars in the UK.
|Year of first registration||Total number of cars|
|1979 - 1984||33,847|
|1985 - 1989||43,132|
|1990 - 1994||75,930|
|1995 - 1999||301,806|
|2000 - 2005||3,313,515|
|Total pre-1990 (30+ years old)||309,089|
|Total pre-1995 (25+ years old)||385,019|
|Total pre-2000 (20+ years old)||686,825|
|Total pre-2005 (15+ years old)||4,000,340|