What are the classic car insurance rules or criteria?

This is an age old question that has been debated by insurers, brokers and owners since the ink dried on the first classic car policy and there is still no definitive answer.

Most classic car insurers will require the policyholder to own a daily drive (we require a car, not bike or van) before providing a classic car insurance policy. This automatically throws a spanner in the works. Here are some scenarios to help explore this.

  • Example 1 - A 1972 car is parked on the drive with 6,000 miles a year and used daily for commuting. We would consider this a daily drive that just so happens to be of a certain age.
  • Example 2 - A 1996 car is garaged with 2,000 miles a year and used on the weekends (weather permitting) plus car shows and events. We would consider this a classic car.

Just because a car is over a certain age doesn’t mean it automatically qualifies for classic car insurance.

We look at three key factors when issuing quotes for classic car insurance:

  1. The year of manufacture
  2. The value
  3. The mileage

We also look at how the car is being used:

  • Social, domestic and pleasure
  • Shows and events
  • Commuting
  • Where the car is stored (would you leave a cherished car on the road?)
  • Is the car registered to a car or enthusiasts club?

This is why it’s difficult to create universal criteria that can be used to define what is a classic car.

How old does a car have to be to qualify for classic car insurance?

According to the government, if your vehicle was built before 1st January 1983, you can apply to stop paying vehicle tax. The vehicle becomes part of the Historic (classic) MOT and vehicle tax category. Please note there are exceptions such as your vehicle being used for commercial purposes.

HMRC consider a car to be classic when it is over 15 years old with a market value greater than the list price and a minimum of £15,000.

Here lies the problem. We have conflicting definitions from the government and there is no set law that concretely details the criteria to officially designate a vehicle as a classic car.

There is a common myth that a car must be at least 25 years before it can become a classic, however, this is not the case. There are many models that are considered modern classics and aren’t even 10 years old.

What is the criteria for a classic car?

It really is down to a matter of opinion which is typically influenced by three factors:

  1. Nostalgia - Many classic car owners have fond memories of family and friends and the vehicles they used to drive in times gone by. This naturally influences their purchasing decisions when it comes to buying an older vehicle. What’s interesting to note is the desirability of a Ford Escort Mark I. It was an everyday car at the time, but the generations that may remember the car from their youth are now wealthier and would like to revisit their youth via ownership.
  2. Desirability - A car appears in a popular television series or film. Over time, that car will become more desirable and considered a classic car. Rarity also influencers desirability as does prestige. For example, a modern Porsche 911 GT3 will eventually be a classic car. The limited manufacture and price triggers more demand. These factors also qualify the car for modern classic car insurance.
  3. Obsolescence - The car is no longer manufactured and parts have started to become rarer.

What’s the difference between veteran, vintage, post vintage and classic cars?

Just like with classic cars, there is also no universally recognised agreement on what to call cars that are much older. Definitions are typically created and led by influential car and enthusiasts clubs. In some instances, the Oxford Dictionary plays a part. Here is a breakdown of the categories which are currently disputed by owners and historians alike.

Are you unsure about the status of your vehicle?

As you can see, it’s not easy to come to a consensus on what is a classic car. If you have a vehicle and are unsure about its status, talk to us. We are a specialist vehicle insurance broker with a panel of insurers who all have different acceptance criteria, so whether your vehicle is 20, 30 or 50 years old we have a policy that suits.

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