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Classic car insurance

Whether you drive your vintage vehicle everyday or only on the weekend, make sure it’s protected with the right classic car insurance. Read on to get all the information you need to insure a classic car and compare quotes.

Whether you drive your vintage vehicle everyday or only on the weekend, make sure it’s protected with the right classic car insurance. Read on to get all the information you need to insure a classic car and compare quotes.

Written by
Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
Last Updated
15 MARCH 2023
5 min read
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What is classic car insurance?

Classic car insurance, also known as vintage car insurance, is a specialist policy for older cars. The policy works similarly to ordinary vehicle insurance, but it’s expected that your classic car will only be used occasionally for leisure.

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 be vintage old cars or modern classics. For insurance purposes, it’s much less exciting. Insurance providers tend to follow the example of the HMRC, which defines a classic car as one 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.

However, insurance providers’ definitions may differ, so it’s important to check before taking out a policy.

What does classic car insurance cover?

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

  • Third-party insurance – covers you against damage to other people and their vehicles.
  • Third-party, fire and theft insurance – the same as above, but it also protects your car against fire damage and theft.
  • Comprehensive cover – covers you, your car, as well as other people/vehicles against injury and damage.

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.

Also like a standard car insurance policy, you can get a number of classic vehicle insurance add-ons. These include:

  • Breakdown cover – if you were ever unfortunate enough to break down while driving your classic car, the right breakdown cover will ensure it’s secure, well looked after and repaired as soon as possible.
  • 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.

Can you get cheap classic car insurance?

It’s 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. You won’t find them being driven off-road or taken out for a track day.

However, some classic car insurance policies include a cap for limited mileage - and you need to be very careful not to go over that cap without telling your insurance provider.

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 to get the cheapest classic car insurance premium you can:

  • 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  – some insurance companies refuse to cover modified cars, and those that will insure you are probably going to charge more. 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 cheap classic car insurance policy is to compare quotes from multiple providers. At Comparethemarket, we can help you do exactly that. Just enter some details and we’ll show you quotes from a variety of insurance providers, allowing you to pick the one that best suits you and your car.

Classic car fines to watch out for

Classic cars come with certain legal challenges which 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, which demand that all car tyres 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, resulting in a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points.

3. Idling your engine at a car show

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 one, make sure you’re aware of the rules – which include shutting 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, and failure to comply with this rule could earn you a fine of £20 to £40. However, if the council creates a Traffic Management Order, you could receive an £80 Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

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 over 40 years ago, and no substantial changes have been made to the vehicle over the last 30 years (e.g. replacing the chassis, body, axles or engine). So 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 we said above, if they are under three, they cannot ride in the vehicle, and all other children must sit in the backseat.

3. Paying road tax

All vehicles built before 1 January 1982 are exempt from paying vehicle tax, as of April 2022, 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?

Possibly, but classic car insurance policies can come with annual mileage restrictions, which may 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?

The world of classic cars seems like an expensive one for those on the outside looking in. But there are a few cost-saving perks.

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 1982, 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.

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