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Classic car insurance guide 2024

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Many classic cars are expensive, highly desirable and might even be a cherished collectible, so if you own one, you’ll want to make sure it’s adequately protected. Classic car insurance, or heritage car insurance as it’s also known, is designed to do just that. It’s a specialist policy that protects vintage vehicles against theft and damage.

What is classic car insurance?

Classic car insurance is a type of car insurance policy designed to cover older cars that are typically driven less frequently and are usually used for leisure purposes, rather than commuting.

There’s no definitive age that makes a car ‘classic’, but as vehicles that were built or registered more than 40 years ago are exempt from vehicle tax, this is often used as a guide.

That said, according to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) a car is counted as classic if it’s:

  • at least 15 years old and;
  • has a market value of £15,000 or more.

On top of this, insurers will have their own definition of a classic car, which will depend on the vehicle’s age, make and model, so it’s important to check this when you’re comparing quotes. 

Classic car insurance works in a similar way to standard car insurance, but there are some key differences. Some classic car insurers will require drivers to be at least 25 to 30 years old, compared to the 17 or 18 years required for a standard policy. Many classic car insurance policies will also include certain restrictions or limits – for example, your insurer might impose an annual mileage limit, which means you shouldn’t exceed this cap without first informing your provider. Always check this limit when you compare policies to ensure you’re happy with it. 

In some cases, your insurer will ask you to commit to an agreed valuation before you take out a policy. This means the insurer will pay out a pre-agreed amount (minus the excess) if your car is written off or stolen, instead of the market value. This can be a good choice if your car is worth more than the average for a car of that age or model. However, you might have to pay more to add this option to your policy. 

Overall, classic car insurance is often cheaper than other car insurance policies because the provider will assume you drive fewer miles in that car compared to a regular car (as classic cars don’t tend to be used for daily commutes or driving to the shops). Classic car owners also tend to take better care of their vintage vehicles and often store them in a locked garage, making them more secure. This reduces the chance of you making a claim on your insurance, which means insurers usually charge lower premiums.

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What are the costs of classic car insurance?

The total cost of classic car insurance will depend on factors such as the make and model of your car, as well as its value. It will also depend on how often the car is driven on the road. 

Classic car insurers will usually require a lower annual mileage, say up to 3,000 to 5,000 miles, and might cap it at this level. It’s important not to exceed this limit, but if you think you will, let your insurer know as soon as possible to arrange an extension. This will likely increase your premium, but if you don’t inform your insurer, you risk invalidating your cover. 

To give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay for classic car insurance, the following table uses data from Uswitch to show the average classic car insurance costs for the 10 most popular classic car brands.

Car brand Median annual premium
Ferrari £829.19
Bentley £606.94
BMW £449.60
Aston Martin £372.49
Mercedes-Benz £343.68
Land Rover £334.75
Ford £321.75
Porsche £311.75
Jaguar £216.61
MG £91.46
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Type of car

The make and model of your car will affect how much you pay for your classic car insurance. All cars are placed into one of 50 insurance groups, with those in group one being the cheapest to insure and those in group 50 being the most expensive. Your classic car might be in a lower insurance group if it’s small and is cheap to repair. But it might be in a higher group if it’s a higher value car with more expensive repair parts that are harder to get hold of.

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Age of car

If your car is older, it might not have as many safety features as a younger model and could be at a higher risk of theft. If that’s the case, your classic car insurance premiums are likely to be higher.

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Where the car is stored/parked

You’ll pay less for your insurance if you park your car in a driveway or garage overnight, rather than on the road.

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Driving history

If you’ve never claimed on car insurance in the past and you don’t have any motoring convictions (such as for speeding or dangerous driving), you should be rewarded with lower premiums. Note that classic car insurance policies don’t usually offer a no claims bonus.

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Annual mileage

Many classic car insurance policies will impose an annual mileage limit, which is usually fairly low. It’s important not to exceed this limit to keep your premiums down.

Breakdown of what classic car insurance covers

Classic car insurance policies vary in terms of exactly what they cover as standard. But as with regular car insurance, you will be able to choose from the following three levels of cover:

  • Third party cover: This is the most basic level of cover and covers the cost of any damage you cause to other people or their property. It won’t cover damage to your own car or any injuries you sustain in an accident.
  • Third party, fire and theft cover: This includes third party cover, as well as cover for your own car if it’s damaged by fire or if it’s stolen. 
  • Fully comprehensive: This is the highest level of car insurance available and covers everything included in third party, fire and theft cover, as well as damage to your own car and any injuries to you or your passengers if you’re involved in an accident. 

On top of this, you can pay extra to arrange additional cover for the following:

Cover Description
Roadside assistance This form of breakdown cover provides assistance at the side of the road if your car breaks down. If your car can’t be repaired at the scene, it will be towed to a nearby garage (this will be chosen by your provider). The cost of any replacement parts won’t usually be covered.
At home breakdown cover With this type of breakdown cover, your car will be repaired at your home or within a specified distance of your home if it won’t start or if it breaks down.
Vehicle recovery or national recovery This is another form of breakdown cover and ensures an engineer will come out to repair your car if it breaks down on the road. If your car can’t be fixed, your car will be towed to a garage of your choosing, anywhere in the UK.
Courtesy car cover for onward travel If your car breaks down, leaving you stranded, this form of cover helps you to continue to your destination. It might provide a courtesy car or cover the cost of public transport. It might also include overnight accommodation costs.
Legal protection If you’re involved in an accident, this will cover any legal costs associated with the accident.
European cover This covers your car if you want to drive it in countries outside the UK. Your classic car insurance might already include third party cover to drive in the EU, but it can be worth paying more to increase your cover to fully comprehensive to ensure your own car is covered.
Laid up cover If your classic car is not being driven on the road, laid up cover protects it against damage, fire and theft. It will also cover your car if it’s currently being restored.
Track day racing This protects your car against damage and accidents if you plan to drive it around racetracks.
Vintage car shows If you want to display your car at fairs and shows, you’ll need to have this cover in place to protect it against damage. It will often include third party liability cover that will protect you in the event you damage someone else’s property or injure someone.

How to save money on classic car insurance

There are a number of steps you can take to help reduce costs and find the cheapest classic car insurance quote. For example:

  • Keep your mileage low: The fewer miles you drive in your classic car, the less chance there is of you being involved in an accident. This means your car insurance premiums are likely to be cheaper. If your classic car insurance policy comes with an annual mileage limit (typically around 3,000 to 5,000 miles), you could get a decent discount on your insurance. However, it’s important to let your insurer know if you think you might exceed this limit. 
  • Avoid any alterations or modifications to the car: If you’ve made any alterations to your car, it’s likely you’ll pay more for your cover. Some insurers might refuse to cover your car at all. Car modifications are classed as any change made to a vehicle that enhances it in some way and wasn’t part of the original manufacturer’s specification – no matter how small. That said, if the modification was carried out to help preserve the vehicle’s condition, this might be taken into account by your insurer. If you do make any modifications to your car, it’s crucial to inform your insurer as soon as possible – don’t wait until your policy renews or you could invalidate your cover. 
  • Improve security and storage of your car: If your car is old, it might not have adequate security features, in which case it’s worth adding some. Fitting an industry-approved alarm and tracking device can help to lower your classic car insurance quote, as it reduces the risk of your car being stolen. Similarly, you should keep your car locked in a garage when you’re not using it, if possible. 
  • Increase the excess: The excess is the amount you are required to pay when you make a car insurance claim. There are two types of excess: compulsory, which is set by your insurer, and voluntary, which you can select yourself. Choosing to pay a higher voluntary excess will reduce your car insurance premiums, but make sure you could afford this amount if you had to submit a claim. 
  • Become a member of a classic car club: If you join a classic car owners’ club, you might benefit from a discount of around 15 to 25 per cent on your insurance costs. That’s because insurers see joining a club as evidence that you’re committed to driving safely and looking after your car. You’ll usually have to pay an annual membership fee of around £25 to £60, but you can also benefit from perks such as discounted rates on spare parts or invitations to special events. 
  • Consider multi-vehicle cover: If you’re lucky enough to have more than one classic car in your household, you might save money with a multi-car insurance policy. Insurers usually offer a discount for each car added to the policy. 
  • Shop around at renewal: When your classic car insurance policy is up for renewal, don’t simply accept your existing insurer’s quote. Shop around online to see whether you can find a cheaper classic car insurance quote elsewhere, making sure you check exactly what’s included in each policy and what the annual mileage limit will be. That way you can be sure you’re getting the best deal.
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Frequently asked questions about classic car insurance

This will depend on your insurance provider. Cars older than 40 years are exempt from vehicle tax, and this is often used as a guide. However, each insurer will have its own set of criteria to determine whether a car is classic, and HMRC defines a car as classic if it is at least 15 years old and has a market value of £15,000 or more. This makes it important to compare policies carefully.

You won’t need to get an MOT if your classic car was first registered more than 40 years ago and no ‘substantial changes’ have been made to the vehicle in the last 30 years. These changes include replacing the chassis, body, axles, or engine. However, it’s still sensible to get your car regularly serviced, as it’s your responsibility to ensure your car is roadworthy and safe to drive. If you drive a vehicle in a dangerous condition, you could get a fine of up to £2,500, be banned from driving and receive three penalty points on your licence. 

If your car is younger than 40 years old, you will still need to get an MOT.

You won’t have to pay vehicle excise duty (VED), or road tax, on your classic car if it’s more than 40 years old. However, this won’t be the case the minute your car turns 40. Instead, you’ll need to wait until the start of the following April. So if your vehicle was built before 1 January 1984, you can stop paying vehicle tax as of 1 April 2024. Your car’s tax-free status won’t be automatic, as you will need to apply for a vehicle tax exemption. You can do this at the Post Office and will need to take:

  • The log book (V5C) in your name
  • Your vehicle tax reminder letter, if you have one
  • A valid MOT certificate or evidence if your vehicle is exempt from an MOT
  • An insurance certificate

The DVLA will then send you an updated log book to show your vehicle is tax exempt.

Yes, if you want to drive your classic car every day, you’re likely to pay a higher insurance premium, as you’ll be driving more miles. However, keep in mind that classic car insurance policies usually impose an annual mileage limit, which is why they’re typically cheaper than standard car insurance policies. If you want to drive your classic car every day, you could exceed this limit and it might not be possible to take out a classic insurance policy. Instead, you might have to apply for standard car insurance, which will be more expensive.

Molly Dyson

Editor

After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.