Skip to content

Classic car insurance

Whether you drive your vintage vehicle every chance you get or only at the weekend, make sure it’s protected with the right classic car insurance. Read on to get the information you need to find cover for your pride and joy – and compare classic car insurance quotes with us.

Whether you drive your vintage vehicle every chance you get or only at the weekend, make sure it’s protected with the right classic car insurance. Read on to get the information you need to find cover for your pride and joy – and compare classic car insurance quotes with us.

Written by
Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
Last Updated
21 JUNE 2024
5 min read
Share article

What is classic car insurance?

Classic car insurance, also known as vintage car insurance or collector car insurance, is a specialist policy for older cars. The policy works similarly to ordinary vehicle insurance, but there are some key differences.

For one, classic cars are often used less frequently and typically only for leisure. Thanks to their passionate owners, they’re often very well-maintained. For that reason, insuring a classic car could be cheaper than insuring a similar-sized modern vehicle.

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

You might have a specific image in your head for what counts as a classic car, whether it’s a vintage old car or a modern classic. For insurance purposes, providers will have their own list of criteria.

When it comes to taxing a vehicle, HMRC has a very clear-cut definition of what counts as classic; a classic car is one that’s over 15 years old and has a market value of £15,000 or more. To qualify for tax exemption, it needs to be at least 40 years old – what HRMC defines as a 'historic’ vehicle.

However, insurance providers’ definitions might differ. Unless your vehicle clearly falls under the definition of historic, they may need to look at other factors to decide if it’s classic for insurance purposes. For example, they might take into account how your car is used and its typical mileage, as well as the make and model and its desirability.

Because there are no clear rules, it’s important to check your car will be covered before taking out a classic policy.

What does classic car insurance cover?

Classic car insurance covers many of the same things as a standard car insurance policy:

One of the main differences is that a classic car insurance policy can have limits or other restrictions. For example, you might have a mileage limit.

What optional extras are available with classic car insurance?

Like a standard car insurance policy, there are several optional extras you can add to insurance on classic cars. These include:

  • Breakdown cover – if you were ever unfortunate enough to break down while driving your classic car, the right breakdown cover can ensure you get roadside assistance and recovery, if needed.
  • Motor legal protection – if you’re involved in an accident, this added cover can allow you to claim for any legal costs associated with the incident.
  • European cover – if you enjoy taking your classic car abroad, whether that’s driving through the Alps or cruising down to the south of France, this add-on will ensure you’re covered to drive on the continent.
  • Laid up cover – if you only drive your classic car part of the year, for example, during the warmer summer months, this can cover you for theft, fire and damage while your car is declared as off-road with a SORN.
  • Agreed value cover – this means that the amount you’ll receive as a payout if your classic car is written off is agreed at the start of the policy, rather than based on the market value at the time of the claim.
  • Wedding car cover – if you plan to make a little money on the side by offering your vintage vehicle and your services as a chauffeur for couples tying the knot, you’ll need to add on specialist cover for hire and reward.
  • Cover for rallies, track days and exhibitions – although it’s specifically excluded by some classic car policies, others will let you add on extra cover if you plan to race your vintage car at a track day or show it off at an exhibition or rally.

How much is classic car insurance?

When you get a classic car insurance quote, the price you could get will depend on several factors, including:

  • The make, model and agreed value of your car
  • The level of cover you want for your classic car
  • If you want to add on any extra cover to your policy
  • How you use your classic car, and your estimated annual mileage
  • Your postcode
  • Where you store your classic when it’s not being driven
  • Your age
  • Your driving and clams history.

Can you get cheap classic car insurance?

It may come as  a bit of a surprise to hear that, yes, you could get classic car insurance cheaper than regular car insurance. That’s because they’re often driven less than regular cars and classic car owners tend to take better care of their pride and joy. Classic cars might also have lower speed limits, which could make them less likely to be involved in an accident.

However, to take advantage of the cheapest classic car insurance, you may have to accept certain rules, such as sticking to a limited mileage. You also need to be very careful not to go over that cap without telling your insurance provider, or you risk driving underinsured.

As the driver of a cherished vintage car, classic car insurance companies will also expect you to show the utmost care for your vehicle – like storing it in a secure place when it’s not being driven and keeping up with the maintenance.

As with any type of car insurance, it’s important to be honest with your provider about how you plan on using your classic car and to contact them if things change. Otherwise you risk invalidating your policy.

How can I reduce the cost of my classic car insurance?

Here are a few ways you can help cut the cost of your premium and get a cheaper quote for classic car insurance:

  • Limit your mileage  – if you agree to an annual limited mileage, you’ll probably get a decent discount. Just make sure the mileage limit you agree is generous enough because exceeding it will invalidate your cover.
  • Increase your security – your classic car might attract the attention of thieves and its age could mean it’s poorly protected. Fitting an alarm and a tracking device could cut the cost of your cover. And if you can, keep the car in a locked garage overnight.
  • Don’t modify the car  – classic car insurance companies are likely to charge more to cover modified cars. And a modification doesn’t just mean adding a flashy exhaust. You’ll need to disclose any additions or upgrades, no matter how simple or common. If you fail to do so, you might find your cover is invalidated.
  • Join a classic car club – while not a guaranteed way of getting the cheapest classic car insurance, classic car club members can sometimes be rewarded with exclusive discounts.
  • Shop around and compare classic car insurance quotes – one of the quickest and easiest ways to get a cheaper quote is by using a classic car insurance comparison service like ours.

At Compare the Market, we can generate classic car insurance quotes in around 6 minutes**. Just enter some details and we’ll show you quotes from a variety of insurance providers, helping you find a cheaper choice for a policy that suits you and your car.

Compare quotes

**Correct as of March 2024.

Classic car fines to watch out for

Classic cars come with certain legal challenges that are different to those associated with a modern car. These offences could leave classic car owners at risk of fines or penalty points, so to ensure you’re not at risk, we’ve outlined some rules to be aware of below:

1. Using original tyres

Offence: Driving your vehicle in a dangerous condition
Penalty: up to £2,500 fine + 3 penalty points

The original tyres on a classic car may not comply with modern safety standards. By law, all car tyres must have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tread and around the entire circumference. Tyres should also be free from any defects like cuts, which could be more likely in older tyres.

If your tyres don’t comply with these standards, you could face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points on your licence for driving your vehicle in a dangerous condition.

2. Your car not being in proper working order

Highway Code Rule 89 (Vehicle condition)
Offence: Driving your vehicle in a dangerous condition
Penalty: up to £2,500 fine + 3 penalty points

The older your car, the more likely it is to suffer from wear and tear. Driving your vehicle while any part of it is broken or not working properly – whether it be engine issues or faulty brakes – could put you in breach of the Highway Code.

Driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition could result in a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points.

3. Idling your engine

Highway Code Rule 123 (Driver and the environment)
Offence: Leaving the engine running while stationary
Penalty: £20 to £80 fine

Vintage car shows are a staple for classic car owners and enthusiasts. If you plan to take your car along to a show, make sure you shut down the engine whenever your car is stationary.

Highway Code Rule 123 stipulates that drivers must never leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running. Failure to comply with this rule could earn you a fine of up to £80.

4. Modifying your exhaust to have a loud, rumbling engine

Offence: Exceeding the maximum noise level for vehicle type
Penalty: £50 fixed penalty notice

A deep, rumbling engine is a point of pride for many classic car owners. Some even make changes to their car exhaust to make it sound even louder.

Unfortunately, chasing that classic engine roar may land you in legal trouble for exceeding maximum noise levels. It’s illegal to modify your car’s exhaust system to make it noisier than the original model, and you could be issued a £50 fixed penalty notice if you do.

5. Driving with children if your car isn't equipped with seatbelts

Offence: Violating seat belt laws
Penalty: £500 fine

Many classic car models don’t have seat belts installed. If you own a vehicle without seat belts, you must never drive with children under three years old. Additionally, any children over the age of three must sit in the back seats.

If you’re caught breaking these rules, you may be fined up to £500.

Classic car exemptions

1. Needing a yearly MOT

Classic car owners don’t need to get an MOT if their vehicle was built or first registered more than 40 years ago. That is as long as no substantial changes have been made to the vehicle over the past 30 years (for example, replacing the chassis, body, axles or engine).

If your classic car is younger than 40 years old, an MOT is still required.

2. Installing a seat belt (if your car doesn’t already have one)

If your car doesn’t already have a seat belt installed, you aren’t legally required to get one fitted. This also means you won’t be fined for not wearing one.

However, this doesn’t apply to children. As mentioned above, if they are under three, they cannot ride in the vehicle, and all other children must sit in the back seat.

3. Paying road tax

All vehicles built or registered before 1 January 1984 are exempt from paying vehicle tax from 1 April 2024. However, you still must tax your vehicle, even if you don’t have to pay.

Frequently asked questions

Can I drive my classic car every day?

It’s possible to find an insurance policy that covers you to drive your classic car every day – and even use it for your commute – however, that’s not really what it’s designed for. Classic car insurance policies typically come with annual mileage restrictions, which might make driving it every day unrealistic.

A classic car policy is often cheaper than standard car insurance, because there’s an assumption that you won’t be driving the car as often. If you’re planning on driving your classic car every day, you should make that clear when taking out insurance. This will affect your policy.

Is a classic car a good investment?

A classic car could be a good investment, in certain cases. Unlike brand-new cars, that lose a lot of value in their first few years on the road, vintage cars could hold or even go up in value over time. But as with any investment, there’s risk involved and no guarantee that your classic will retain its value.

Most classic car enthusiasts are in it for the joy of driving and caring for their vintage vehicle – and any potential gain in value is considered a bonus. But there are a few cost-saving perks to owning a classic too.

If your car’s more than 40 years old, you don’t need to have it MOT tested. And if it was manufactured before 1 January 1984, you don’t need to pay vehicle tax. You’ll need to apply for a vehicle tax exemption though.

Does my classic car need an MOT?

If your car was built more than 40 years ago, it doesn’t need an MOT – although you can still have it tested voluntarily. But if your car has had substantial work performed on it, whether that’s a new engine or significant bodywork carried out in the past 30 years, you may find that you’re no longer exempt from having a valid MOT.

If you have any doubts, you can find government advice here.

What is agreed value?

This means you agree upfront with your insurance provider how much your car is worth, rather than relying on market value. So if you have an accident and your car is written off, you’ll be reimbursed the agreed valuation.

Does ULEZ have a classic car exemption?

If your car is over 40 years old and exempt from paying road tax as a historic vehicle, then it might also be exempt from Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charges. You’ll need to check on a city-by-city basis for anywhere you want to drive into for rules and exemptions.

However, if your car is used commercially, it will only be exempt from paying to enter London’s ULEZ if it was built before 1 January 1973.

If your car meets the age requirements but is registered outside the UK, it will still be exempt, but you’ll need to register your vehicle with the Mayor of London before travelling into the ULEZ in central London. Check the rules for other cities you might wish to drive into.

Looking for a car insurance quote?

Compare car insurance quotes with us today and see if you could start saving.

Get a quote
Compare car insurance Get a quote