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Classic car insurance

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How old does a car have to be to be a classic?

A car has to be over 15 years old and worth £15,000 or more to be considered a classic car, according to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

However, definitions of what a classic car is varies between different providers.

For example, classic car insurance provider Adrian Flux offers a broader definition of what a classic car is and can categorise cars which are only five years old as classic.

Examples of classic cars include: the Hillman Imp, Morris Marina, MGB and MX5, and historic marques such as Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Triumph and Opel.

How does classic car insurance differ from standard car insurance?

  • It’s often cheaper to insure a classic car versus a more modern car. This is because classic cars are usually well looked after and their owners tend to cover fewer miles at lower speeds. While most cars are used for everyday purposes, such as commuting or daily-shopping, classic cars are usually reserved for recreational driving.
  • Stricter terms and conditions are often included in classic car insurance policies to lower the chances of your car being damaged or being involved in an accident. Even though classic car insurance might be cheaper than standard car insurance, be sure to check all the terms and conditions of the policy thoroughly.

Remember, the cheapest policy isn’t necessarily the best and may come with hidden restrictions.

For example, there may be an annual mileage cap associated with your policy – so you’ll only be able to clock up a set number of miles in a year. Many insurance companies will limit owners to driving their car to 2,500 miles per year. Many even require annual odometer readings.

Finally, before taking out a policy, check you can insure your classic car for an agreed valuation rather than its market value. An agreed valuation is the amount your insurer will agree to pay if your car is written off after a crash.

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How do I get cheaper classic car insurance?

There are many ways you can get cheaper insurance:

  • Avoid modifications on your car.
  • Join a classic car club. You can benefit from insurance discounts by joining one.
  • Increase security for your classic car. Keep it in a locked garage overnight rather than your driveway.
  • Limit your mileage.
  • Shop around to make sure you get the best insurance deal.

Do I need to pay vehicle tax on my classic car?

No. If your vehicle was built before 1 January 1981, you can apply to stop paying for vehicle tax from 1 April 2021. You'll still need to go through the process to tax your vehicle, but will not need to pay.

If you don’t know when your vehicle was built, but it was first registered before 8 January 1981, you can still apply to stop paying vehicle tax.

Does my classic car need an MOT?

No. Another benefit of owning a classic car is that you don’t need to get an MOT for the vehicle.

As of May 2018, the Department for Transport (DfT) says if the vehicle was built or first registered more than 40 years ago and no ‘substantial changes’ have been made to it in the last 30 years.

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Can you get classic car breakdown cover?

Yes, you can get breakdown cover for your classic car, but make sure you check the policy before taking it out.

There are different levels of breakdown cover available. You can get additional features as add-ons or buy a more rigorous policy:

  • Home assistance provides additional cover if your car won’t start, and you are near home.
  • National recovery covers your car if it breaks down away from home. If your car can’t be fixed locally, a recovery vehicle and team will be sent out to help you.
  • European cover provides protection when driving in Europe, with cover generally available for up to 31 days a trip, and 90 days a year in total. Before you take your classic car on a European break, make sure you ring your insurer to let them know just in case anything happens. The insurer can then trigger your cover.

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Can I get classic car insurance if my car has modifications?

Yes, you can get classic car insurance if your car has modifications. However, the price of your insurance might be higher, as your insurer could view your modification as an additional risk.

Your insurance company might see modifications, such as a high-quality re-spray or a flashier upholstery, as an attraction for thieves.

If you’re going to make modifications to your car, always tell your insurer what modifications you have made. Not doing so means you’ll be in danger of invalidating any future claims.

Can you get classic car insurance for young drivers?

Yes, you can get classic car insurance if you’re under 25. However, there may be restrictions related to:

  • The car your drive
  • How and where you drive it

Most classic car insurers will only agree to insure you if you have had a driving license for at least a year. There are many things you can do to help you get classic car insurance like:

  • Complete a pass plus driving course
  • Buy a used or older classic car
  • Avoid buying a car with modifications

Will my classic car insurance cover me for commuting?

Classic cars are usually viewed by insurance companies as for recreational use and not for commuting. Some policies also have cap on annual mileage, for example, 2,500 miles per year.

There are policies that will allow you to use your classic car for commuting but the price of your insurance is likely to go up.

What is an agreed valuation?

An agreed valuation is the amount your insurer will agree to pay if your car is written off after a crash.

To get an agreed value, you must let your insurer know how much your car is worth. Hopefully, your classic car insurer will then agree to this amount or negotiate an alternative amount. This will then be the sum you get if your car is seriously damaged in an accident.

Getting an ‘agreed valuation’ for your classic car will give you peace of mind if your car is written off.

If you don’t have agreed value, any claim would be settled at the market value of your car the at time of the claim. This means you could lose money against its value when you took out the policy.

What does a substantial change mean?

A substantial change refers to any vehicle alterations that have changed the technical characteristics of the main features of the car. This only includes vehicle alterations from within the last 30 years.

For example, replacing the chassis, body, axles or engine to change the way the vehicle works.

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What our car insurance expert says

Standard policies will estimate the market value of your car, but they might not reflect the actual value of your classic. If you want an agreed valuation for your classic, speak with the insurer before you buy. An agreed valuation on your policy can help ensure you’re not left out of pocket if your car is damaged or stolen.
Alex Kindred signature

Alex Kindred

Car insurance expert