When is a classic car a classic car?

As I’m sure all London motorists are now aware, the ULEZ zone will expand to cover all London boroughs by August 29, 2023, leaving many people having to scrap perfectly good vehicles and get even more in debt by buying a much newer car or motorcycle.

The savvy motorist could save themselves a pretty penny by considering switching to a classic vehicle.

For example, a classic Mercedes W123 can still be picked up for sensible money and are known for solid build quality with bombproof engines that can go on for hundreds of thousands of miles, are easy to work on and will get you cool, retro style points and early ones are tax and MoT exempt.

As a lot of people tend to use their cars less these days, it may be worth getting a classic insurance policy at the same time and potentially save yourself a few more quid.

Car insurance expert at Confused.com, Louise Thomas, comments:

“As the cost of driving continues to be at all-time highs, many are looking for ways to reduce their motoring costs. And for those living in or near a ULEZ zone, congestion charges are an extra expense.

“With the expansion of the London ULEZ coming into place this August, many motorists might be considering switching to a vehicle that is exempt from the charges. That’s because driving in ULEZ zones can be expensive, with charges reaching £12.50 per day.

“Whilst many know that electric vehicles are exempt from congestion charges, some drivers might be unaware of the rules when it comes to classic cars. A classic car has a historic vehicle tax class and are currently exempt from ULEZ charges.

“The upfront costs of EVs can be expensive, and not everyone can afford to make the switch. And although classic cars are historically expensive too, research shows that some can cost less than £3,000.

Classic cars could also see long-term benefits, as they generally can increase in value.”

How does classic car insurance differ from standard car insurance?
Before buying a classic car insurance policy, check you can insure your classic car for an agreed valuation rather than its market value.

An agreed valuation is the amount your insurer agrees to pay if your car is written off after an accident.

There may be an annual mileage cap associated with your policy, where you’d only be able to drive a set number of miles in a year.

Many insurance companies limit owners to driving their car to around 2,500 miles per year. You might even have to send them annual mileage readings.

You might sometimes find it cheaper to insure a classic car compared to a more modern car.

This is because classic cars are usually well looked after and their owners tend to cover fewer miles at lower speeds.

While most cars are used for commuting or shopping, classic cars are usually reserved for recreational driving.

Specialist car insurance policies usually have stricter terms and conditions to lower the chances of your car being damaged in an accident.

When does a car become a classic?
Generally, a car becomes a classic when it’s no longer in production and is considered a collectable.

However, definitions of what a classic car is varies between different providers. HMRC says that a car becomes a classic:

  • When it’s 15 years old
  • If it’s worth over £15,000

From a tax perspective, a car becomes a ‘historic vehicle’ once it’s over 40 years old and is exempt from paying car tax.

And for insurance companies, the definition is less clear cut. Depending on its style, rarity and desirability, a ‘classic’ car might actually only be five years old!

How old is a vintage car?
There’s a little more consensus as to what counts as a vintage car. Generally, vintage cars are those made before 1931. These include Rolls Royce Phantoms and old-school Cadillacs.

You might find that vintage cars are rarely driven due to their age and value. And any damage might be expensive to repair because it requires specialist parts and technique

How do I get cheaper classic car insurance?
There are many ways you can get cheaper classic car insurance:

  • Avoid modifications on your classic car. Anything you do to alter its risk of theft or its power could increase your costs.
  • Join a classic car club. You could benefit from insurance discounts by joining one, since members of owners’ clubs tend to look after their car more.
  • Increase security for your classic car. Keep it in a locked garage overnight rather than your driveway.
  • Limit your mileage. Chances are you aren’t doing many miles on it anyway, but driving fewer miles could help save you some money.
  • Shop around to make sure you get the best deal.

For more information, visit https://www.confused.com/car-insurance/classic


Picture: Maciej Lewandowski

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