How to find the right insurance for your classic car

Finding quality car insurance is crucial if you’re passionate about your classic car. Here’s what’s covered, what to consider, and how to pick the right policy to protect your pride and joy.

What is classic car insurance?

It’s a type of car insurance that’s designed to protect high-value older cars that are only driven occasionally.

Depending on your cover level, you could get financial protection against accidental damage, third-party, and fire and theft claims.

You can also benefit from features tailored to your car’s age, make and model and what you use it for.

Classic cars that are in pristine condition will gain in value the older they get rather than depreciate like regular cars.

What makes a car classic?

It depends on who you ask. Some enthusiasts may deem a car classic if it simply holds nostalgic value and timeless design. For motor tax purposes, any car that’s aged 30 years or older is a classic car in Ireland.

However, ask a selection of insurance providers in Ireland, and they’ll probably all have a different definition. Generally, for insurance purposes, it depends on these factors:

  • The age of the car: Some insurers class cars over 15 years old as classic, while others need them to be at least 25 years old.
  • The condition of the car: This should be very good for its age. Modifications are acceptable to maintain the integrity of the vehicle.
  • How often it’s used: The vehicle needs to be your second car that’s used occasionally rather than the main car that you drive day to day.
  • The mileage you do: Your annual mileage must be low, generally less than 5,000 miles.

What are vintage cars?

Cars that were made between 1919 and 1930 are referred to as vintage. Prior to this, they are known as veteran or antique. Some insurers may offer a separate policy for vintage cars.

Vintage cars can be extremely valuable, so you’ll need to invest time and money in finding and buying the right vintage car insurance for your prized possession.

Having the right insurance in place is vital to ensure you don’t lose out financially if your car is involved in an accident or is stolen.

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What vehicles are covered?

There is a huge range of car makes and models that count as classics. So, whether you own a classic Mini, Jaguar, Aston Martin or Triumph, there’s a policy available for your special pride and joy.

Some policies cover vehicles other than cars too e.g. vintage tractors and classic vans.

If your car isn’t old enough to be classed as a classic car, or is used as your main vehicle, you can get regular car insurance.

Why do you need classic car insurance?

It’s a legal requirement to insure any car you drive but there are also other reasons why a classic car needs a specialist insurance policy.

  • Classic car insurance is geared towards you doing fewer miles and driving with extra care, making your policy cheaper.
  • Classic cars are usually of much higher value than regular cars, and with classic car insurance, you can agree a set value for your vehicle in the event of a claim.
  • It’s more likely that your classic car will have been modified due to its age but unlike with regular car insurance, this shouldn’t count against you.

In addition, it’s rare that you can use a no claims bonus on a classic car, so having a policy that’s tailored to the car and its use will work out cheaper overall.

What type of classic car cover can you get?

Just like with regular car insurance, you must choose from these three levels of cover:

  1. Third party
  2. Third party, fire and theft
  3. Comprehensive

Some insurers only offer classic car cover to drivers who are at least 25 years old.

What else are you covered for?

It’s important to think about how you intend to use the car so that you know which features to check are included.

Here are some of the main things usually covered as standard on a comprehensive policy:

  • Windscreen and windows cover: If your glass gets damaged, it covers the cost to repair or replace it.
  • European cover: This allows you to drive your classic car in Europe for a set number of days a year.
  • Fire brigade charges: Covers the cost of calling out the fire brigade to extinguish a fire or safely remove anyone trapped in the vehicle.
  • Breakdown assistance: This is usually restricted to within Ireland and the UK, and vehicle weight restrictions may also apply.
  • Classic car shows and display use: This can cover accidents and public liability while your vehicle is at an event or on display.

Some policies also include third-party trailer cover, but restrictions on things like weight will apply.

Tips to get the best value insurance for your classic car

Although classic car insurance is usually cheaper than regular car insurance for older cars, there are still things you can do to keep the cost down.

  • Multi-car discount: If you need to insure more than one classic car, you’ll qualify for a discount with some insurers.
  • Classic car club member’s discount: Joining an Irish classic or vintage car club for around €50 a year could get you a discount on your insurance.
  • Check the value of your car: Use a professional to value your car and see if your insurer will agree to this amount for claims. The market value may be considerably lower.
  • Use a specialist broker: Find a broker specialising in classic car insurance so they can search out the right policies for you. Check for any hidden fees they may charge.
  • Pay in one go: You may pay extra to pay in monthly instalments so if you can afford to pay for the policy upfront, you’ll probably save on interest.
  • Compare features: Only pay for the features you need. For example, if you already have breakdown cover, you don’t want to pay twice.
  • Set the right excess: If you can afford to increase the excess (the amount you’ll pay in a claim) this could bring the initial policy cost down.

Other things to consider when you buy classic car insurance

Some classic car insurance terms differ from regular car insurance, and some features are more significant to classic car owners. Here are some things to take into account:

No claims bonus

Most insurers don’t allow a no claims bonus to be used on their classic car insurance policies.

This is because, for most people, it’s their second car and is just covered for occasional use. You can benefit from a no claims discount on your main car.

Salvage retention rights

If the vehicle is in an accident and written off, some insurers will keep the salvage while others will allow you to keep it and just deduct its value from the claim.

The salvage can be valuable for spare parts so if you want to retain it in this circumstance, you should ensure your policy allows this.


Although modifications are more common with classic cars, you must inform the insurer if the car has been modified e.g. adding power steering or air conditioning etc.

You should declare any modifications when you apply for a quote and when any future modifications are made after you take out the policy, or it could invalidate a claim.

Classic car insurance FAQs

Can I get classic car insurance for my old car that I use every day?

No. Classic car insurance is intended for second cars that do very few miles and are usually in mint condition.

Unfortunately, insurance for cars that are simply older can be very expensive as there is an increased risk of a costly claim.

You could use a broker to compare quotes or consider upgrading your car to a newer one, to avoid paying a high premium on your car insurance.

Can I use a no claims bonus on a classic car?

Not usually no, due to only doing very low mileage and using the car occasionally.

However, some insurers may allow a no claims discount subject to certain terms and conditions so it’s worth shopping around.

Can I insure my commercial classic car?

Yes. If you have a vehicle you use for commercial purposes e.g. a classic wedding car, you can get specialist insurance for this.

It depends on the insurer as to whether you just need an add-on or extension to your policy, or a separate business insurance policy.

It’s essential to have the right cover e.g. public liability so that you’re protected against costly claims that may arise.

Do I have to pay tax on my classic car?

Yes, but depending on its age, the rate is much less.

For example, veteran and vintage vehicles that are 30 years old or more have an annual motor tax rate of €56.

Why is classic car insurance cheaper?

Classic car insurance is usually cheaper than regular car insurance for an older car, for a number of reasons, including:

  • Classic cars tend to be driven very carefully and in good road conditions, to keep them in mint condition
  • Vehicles are usually kept in a secure garage or lock up when not in use
  • Mileage is very low so there’s less chance of an accident

These factors lower the risk of an insurer having to pay out so you get reward with a lower premium.

Regular older cars that are used as a main car are expensive to insure because:

  • They have fewer safety features e.g. airbags, resulting in more severe and costly injuries in an accident
  • They can be difficult and expensive to repair due to sourcing old parts and finding the expertise to do the work
  • They can be an easy target for theft

You must get the right type of insurance for your car, even if it means paying more. Speak to a broker or insurer if you’re unsure what kind you need.