An Owner’s Guide to Insuring Your Classic Car

Mature man polishing a blue classic car
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From what you need to consider to what constitutes a classic car, here’s everything you need to know about insuring classic cars.


By Ian Lawrence, Insurance Adviser, Partners&

For many the desire to own a classic car, a piece of motoring history, starts at a young age; a child’s heart and imagination captured by seeing their first Ferrari or E-Type Jaguar, they become lifelong devotees and save hard until they can own their very own piece of history. For others it is something they come to later in life when time and finances allow. Either way, the hobby can be all-consuming both from a time and a financial perspective, so it makes sense to insure your car properly from the start.

What you need to consider when insuring a classic car?

When insuring a classic car, there are a few things you need to consider first and some details that will impact the approach to classic car insurance.

What constitutes a ‘classic car’?

There’s some debate as to what classifies a car as classic. Is it simply it’s age? No, and for the purposes of insurance, two identical cars, owned by two different owners, won’t necessarily both be eligible for classic car insurance cover either. Let me explain.

Traditionally, for insurance purposes, a classic car is at least 26 years old, however there are also ‘modern classics’ which don’t meet the age criteria but do for rarity value, so age is not the sole defining factor. It is also as much about the way you care for and drive your car as its actual age.

For instance, if you have a 26-year-old car that you drive daily to and from work then no, you will not be able to insure it on a classic car policy.

If, however, your neighbour owns that identical 26-year-old car but it is kept in a garage 24/7, driven for no more than 500 to 3,000 miles a year, and your neighbour is a member of the owner’s club, then yes, a classic car insurer would be happy to cover them.

Do I have to use a classic car insurance policy?

No not at all, the choice is yours, however, the main attraction of a classic car insurance policy is the price. Because insurers know that most classic cars are only used on high days and holidays, the risk is so much lower, therefore so is the premium price.

There are a few benefits on a classic car policy that are not available on a regular policy, one of which is ‘Wedding Cover’. Should your friend or neighbour ask if you’d mind driving their daughter to her wedding in your beautiful car, you are automatically covered. You will also be covered for ‘Show Cover’ in case you want to display your car at a classic car show. You wouldn’t be covered for either of these in a ‘regular’ car insurance policy.

Are there different levels of cover in a classic car insurance policy?

There are two main levels of cover:

  • Standard Cover: This is a fully comprehensive cover for you to drive your classic car whenever you like.
  • Laid Up Cover: This is for the car that pretty much stays in the garage the entire time. It is insured for damage, fire, theft etc but not for being on the road. If at some point you decide you need to move the car you simply inform your insurer. This policy particularly suits cars in large collections.

Will my classic car insurance policy allow me to take my vehicle abroad?

Absolutely, yes. You may even like to have it transported down to your summer house in Europe, all of which will be covered, just let your insurer or adviser know.

Does my classic car insurance policy come with breakdown cover?

Not as standard, no. A regular breakdown cover will suffice and should be arranged separately.

Historically, what are the main types of claims made against classic car insurance policies?

I bet you’re thinking a crash whilst driving or theft, but you’d be wrong. The truth is accidental or malicious damage is the main reason for people making a claim. A can of paint that has fallen off the shelf in the garage, damaging the car. Someone has broken off your Flying Lady or prized off your Ferrari badges. One case I heard of was desperately sad. A widow, keen to keep her late husband’s classic car in good order, hooked up the trickle charge to the battery, which subsequently exploded, causing the garages to catch fire and burn to the ground, including the classic car.

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I’ve had an accident; how do I claim and find parts for my classic car?

If you have used an adviser to buy your policy, simply give them a call and they’ll help you through the entire process (one of the times that using an adviser truly comes into its own).

What about parts for my classic car?

Obviously, sourcing parts for a classic car, both internal working parts and bodywork panels can be extremely difficult and the route to having your car returned in full working order could be long and complicated. Patience will be your friend at this time.

If you had a high-performance car I’d recommend your policy said that your vehicle could only be repaired with brand new, manufacturer supplied parts but, if production of your car stopped over 100 years ago, that’s highly unlikely to happen - although occasionally a ripple runs through the motoring world when a box of ‘new old parts’ is found sitting on a shelf covered in dust and a hundred hungry owners dive in to find the lug nut they’ve been unable to source for years.

In lieu of finding these original parts, there are companies who specialise in the manufacture of replica parts for classic cars and even better, there are repairers who are recommended and approved by the original manufacturer (like Ferrari) so you know the repair will be done to the most exacting of standards.

Be aware that, although as the owner of the vehicle you can help source parts, have discussions with the insurer and, if you are so inclined, spend hours picking over car parts at a breaker’s yard, the final responsibility for getting your car fixed lies with the insurance company and the repairer of their choice.

Who should I buy my classic car insurance policy from?

Although classic car insurance policies are available on the internet, we’d highly recommend you close your laptop, pick up the phone and ring an experienced insurance adviser such as my team and I at Partners&.

Internet policies – Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware)

Sadly, some of the cheaper policies currently available on the internet are arranged through insurers based abroad, who are not subject to the same strict FCA scrutiny that our UK based insurers are. UK insurers must demonstrate ‘solvency’ and ‘cash in bank’ to prove that they will be able to pay out any future claims. Unfortunately, history has shown us that many overseas insurers are here today and gone tomorrow, leaving clients high and dry when they need to make a claim.

Personal service from Partners&

If you are at the beginning of your classic car buying journey I will talk you through every aspect of insuring your cherished vehicle and recommend the most appropriate insurer for you, taking into consideration things like what you’ll be using it for, where the car will be kept, other cars in your house (insurers will want to make sure you aren’t trying to pull the wool over their eyes about mileage and usage) and I may even suggest you join the car’s owners club to further reduce your premium.

My many years of knowledge will be entirely at your disposal and, should the worst happen, and you need to make a claim I’ll handle the entire thing for you too, allowing you to get on with life and the things that are important to you. When it is time for renewal, I will also ensure your car is adequately insured to take into account the rapidly rising price of classic cars.

Partners& challenge the status quo by delivering insurance advice that makes a difference. Combining technical knowledge with service and intelligent use of technology, they offer clients the confidence and peace of mind that you are protected so with tailored recommendations that are right for you.