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Classic, Collectors & Vintage Car Insurance made simple

Premiums starting at under £70.00

Now that is a brave title because insurance never seems simple to the average person but then neither is the law or how a computer works. However, to an expert in the field these things are a little clearer.

Most people read their policy when they have a claim which can be too late! It's a bit like reading your workshop manual after the job has gone horribly wrong.  It's better to read it and then get an expert to explain!

The principle behind insurance is that many pay into the fund so that the unfortunate few are able to draw out. The underwriters working for the insurers look on it as their job to ensure that those who join the fund pay their fair share. Some underwriters have more flexibility than others but remember, an underwriter that produces a loss will soon lose his job!

Many years ago the point was made that certain vehicles did very little mileage and therefore the chance of being involved in a motoring accident were reduced. Thus there was a case for premium reductions on those vehicles. Together with this came the demand for more certainty in the amount that would be paid out for claims on vehicles where the normal rules of depreciation no longer seemed to apply. Clever underwriters and brokers combined these together and developed the specialist insurance policies that today help vehicle enthusiasts contain their insurance costs.

Competition between underwriters for this slice of the insurance market has produced many different policies with their own subtle differences as each underwriter struggles to produce a profitable account for his employer, be it a Lloyds Syndicate or an insurance company.

All true enthusiasts know what happened - people more interested in money than cars joined our hobby increasing the value of our cars. Then came the recession together with the increased crimes against cars producing more claims than predicted. So we now have the present confused state of the insurance market with underwriters being far more sensitive on values, on who drives the cars, where they are kept and which vehicles produce more claims. They try to identify who is the enthusiast as distinct from the person who just runs older cars but thinks he can get cheap insurance if he calls it a "Classic".

That is enough of the history so let's get into the hard information. Most Collectors policies are Comprehensive? What is Comprehensive? Well, which shade of green is British Racing Green? Insurance policies consist of written sections that add up to form your policy. To read your policy you need the policy document, the certificate and the schedule plus each document that your Insurer has issued since you started your contract with them. These documents might contain written policy endorsements which adjusts the basis of cover, such as an increase in policy excesses.

How to actually read a policy, which is a legal contact, could be the basis of a further article.  Here is some information, advice and thoughts:

This is the maximum the company have agreed to pay up to in respect of a loss or damage claim. In a simple case like theft of your vehicle which is not found, they buy your vehicle at the agreed value stated in your insurance policy documents. The value only becomes agreed when the insurers have accepted the value put forward by you. They can ask for further information or put forward a reduced value for you to consider.

Sometimes there can be a delay between the issue of a cover note and the provision of evidence needed to agree the value of your vehicle; this delays the value you put forward from being accepted.  Not many people present a proposal form, photographs and perhaps a valuation if required by Insurers, all at once. So if cover has been given before insurers can agree a value and a claim occurs before the value is accepted, the claim is usually dealt with on a market value basis as with normal insurance. This is subject to an upper limit of the value you stated. So do not expect to purchase your car for £15,000 and get insurance for £20,000 without a good explanation! After all, the insurers will not permit you to make a quick £5,000 profit if you crash it on the way home!  Also, make sure the correct purchase price is shown on your proposal form as Insurers often check with previous owners what the car was actually sold for.

For those of you who have restored or rebuilt their vehicles, keep a detailed log of bills, time spent and photographs of the work done. This will ensure you get the maximum agreed value possible as getting an agreed value over the perceived market price is extremely difficult.

Most agreed values depend on the quality of the photographs you can supply so make sure you do your best. Flash photographs at night, photos of vehicles with no registration numbers on and frontal with the rest of the vehicle in the garage are definitely a no! no!  Insurers usually ask for the following photos:-

1) front including registration number and driver's side view.
2) rear including registration number and passenger's side view.
3) open engine bay
4) speedometer
5) interior

If your car has a "History" that will enhance its value, please tell us.

It is very important to tell your Insurers where your vehicle is kept when it is not in use.  Some policies have restrictions/exclusions in cover if you leave your vehicle out of the garage in the vicinity of your home address so check carefully before you leave it on the driveway or street, particularly overnight.  Remember - locked garage means LOCKED garage.  From a thief's point of view, your car sitting on the drive or parked outside your house on a regular basis is there for the taking.

Every time a cheque for £6,000 for a stolen Sprite is issued, another 75 other Sprite owners' insurance premium will have been used to pay this out so underwriters will be far stricter on their requirements in the future. An unsupervised garage a few miles away from your home is not always accepted by the Insurers.

 Insurers' definitions of eligible vehicles have all been revised in recent years and the vehicle's age plays a more of an important role now. Another factor coming more into play is the fact that the vehicle does not necessarily have to be your main form of transport. 

All modifications must be declared to the Insurers as in the event of a claim, engineers will inspect and modifications will be recorded so if you have a Mk1 Sprite with a supercharged 1275 engine or a Sprite with a fibreglass bonnet, let your Insurers know.   Do not be tempted to ignore it and not tell the insurers because if the worst happens, it could affect (or even mean refusal of) your claim. 

Some underwriters are closer to the market than others and do not charge for modifications/upgrades. Some underwriters charge extra just as they may do for left had drive cars.  It is always best to discuss the position with someone with a more detailed knowledge.

Limited mileage is what it says it is! So choose your limit with care and keep records so you can prove you are within your limit in the event of a claim. Some Insurers will allow you to increase to a higher limit if you are getting close to the chosen limit. Remember, if you have chosen 1,500 miles ask at 1,400 before you go over - it is too late if you have had a claim. After all, which bookmaker allows you to back a winner when the race has been won?

Strangely, Insurers will not give you a refund should you choose a higher limit and find you have not reached the lower limit. Remember, each contract is an annual contract so do not expect to carry forward unused portions of mileage into your next year!  Make sure your speedometer is working and when the car has its MOT, that the garage put the correct mileage on the MOT certificate. If you have an annual declaration to make, put it in writing and keep a copy.

What do you use your vehicle for? Insurers have difference views on permitted use. The standard permitted use is SOCIAL, DOMESTIC AND PLEASURE. To some Insurers, this excludes any commuting to a permanent place of work. Others include this in their definition but if you use your car for business, then you may find that you have a problem. So on a nice day, the solicitor who goes to work in his Classic and then decides to visit a client could find he has problems.

Remember, what you asked for and, if you wish to change the use of your car, ask!

No-one expects to be covered in competitions but will your policy cover you in a club "TRUNDLE" or instructions day at the circuit?  Racing is a NO NO but a club day out? Different Insurers will give you different answers so always check. Most insurance policies now exclude use of the car on a race track for any reason.

Again different views are expressed depending on the type of event involved. If you do it - ask! You would not like to be the one to lose control and hit a bystander and then find yourself at the mercy of the lawyers without insurance support. Remember the ideal risk is the enthusiast who drives his car to the concourse, displays it and then drives home to his locked garage.

Most companies will extend their UK policy to full cover when abroad but expect to show that you will stay within your mileage limit. Always check before you take a policy out if you intend to travel abroad. 

A whole separate section could be written on this. The most common question asked on this type of policy is 'Will the Insurer allow me to keep the salvage in part settlement of my claim?'  Most Insurers will allow you to do this but not all, so check.

Can you take the vehicle to an expert 'in the know'? Not all companies will have the same detailed knowledge you have! Simple jobs like fitting a big Healey front wing can cause those brows to wrinkle at those garages that are used to repair modern cars! So Historic and Classic car policies usually allow for repairs by specialists.

To most of us, our Collectors' vehicles are the precious toys to replace our Dinky's and Meccano sets. We hope this information will enable you to look after yourself and your toys.