As those who have been involved with the NSRA for any length of time will probably know, Classicline Insurance has been operating as broker for the club now for over 10 years, and has many hundreds of satisfied policy holders on its books. The company started out in the 1980s, initially specialising in policies for classic Triumph cars. Spurred on by its success in this area, the firm soon broadened its horizons to encompass all classic vehicles. “Much of our business comes from recommendation,” explains Company Director, Darren Coote, “and this is how the company established its relationship with the NSRA.”
We asked NSRA Chairman, David Biggadyke, to tell us a little bit more about that organisation’s well-established links with ClassicLine. “We’ve worked with Classicline for many years now, and I feel they give the best cover available to hot rodders,” he says. “Equally importantly, they understand their subject and are very enthusiastic – so much so, you’ll often find them at our club events. Their agreed valuation scheme is a bonus and, as far as I am aware, is not generally offered by other companies.”
By way of demonstrating how Classicline can help smooth the way with claims, Darren told us the following story: “A rodder was on his way to an event when his car suddenly stopped. Unable to fix it, he called a recovery vehicle to get the car uploaded and off the highway. The operator arrived and loaded the car, but it promptly fell off his truck, causing significant damage. The operator was less than helpful in providing his insurance details until ClassicLine stepped in to help resolve the matter between the two insurance companies – much to the relief of the client.”
As the Agreed Valuation scheme is a unique Classicline feature, we thought it might be useful to get a more detailed explanation of what this entails and how it works.
“The main benefit of a classic car policy is the option of having an agreed value secured on the vehicle,” says Darren. “In simple terms, this means the pre-accident, or theft/fire value of the vehicle has been pre-agreed with the insurer, and that’s the amount, less the excess, that is paid out should a total loss occur. It can be arranged by submitting a selection of photographs, showing all angles of the vehicle, together with a valuation. Some clubs supply such a valuation as part of their membership fee – for example, the NSRA – and a valuation can also be accepted from a specialist dealer or engineer. The latter could cost extra, though, and clients need to check this out. Alternatively, Classicline can value certain vehicles 'in-house', for a fee of £15.00, subject to the completion of a valuation form. The information on the form is then discussed at the quotation stage.
“An agreed value is an essential requirement for drivers of classic, modified and specialist vehicles, and it still amazes me how many car enthusiasts do not have agreed-value policies. Clients invest many thousands of pounds in their vehicles, and for the sake of a few photographs and the completion of a form, can secure that investment. Without an agreed value, insurers only have to pay 'what they consider' is the market value of a vehicle. The difference between an insurer’s valuation of a vehicle and the client’s assessment can be enormous. It’s bad enough having your pride and joy stolen or written off, but it’s even worse to be offered a much smaller amount in compensation than expected and then have to go through the stress and anguish of having to prove its value after the event – a process that can take many weeks and often prove fruitless.
“All that said, clients need to be realistic with their valuations. An agreed value is designed to secure a vehicle’s market value. It is not the cost of replacement – often very difficult – or simply the total of the purchase price plus the cost of restoration. Some vehicles will never be worth on the open market more than a certain amount, regardless of how much has been spent on them! A car may be priceless as far as an individual client is concerned, but in reality, it will have a market value, and that figure may differ from the client’s view on the matter. Ultimately, a vehicle is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it.”
WHY CHOOSE A CLASSIC CAR POLICY?
“Classic car polices are just that – policies suitable for classic cars,” continues Darren. “They provide the obvious benefits of discounts for limited mileage, agreed values and club membership discounts, but on top of all that, allow a client more control, should he or she have a claim.
“A conventional insurance policy normally requires you to use one of a shortlist of approved repairers should a claim occur. This is all very well for your Ford Mondeo, but I don’t think many guys driving a 1960s Mustang will be best impressed being told to take their vehicle to a Ford main dealer for repairs. A classic policy will normally allow you to choose the garage at which the vehicle is repaired – usually a classic car specialist or even a garage known to the client that has worked on the car previously. Also proving increasingly popular is the option of allowing the client to repair the vehicle himself. In such cases, a cash-in-lieu figure is agreed and paid to the client, who then has total control over what happens to his valued classic. This is proving to be a particularly popular alternative with hot rodders.
“Classic car brokers offer an invaluable service to classic car clients. In our case, Classicline endeavours to offer an old-fashioned type of service, which is often refreshing to customers in an age of huge call centres and hard-sell techniques! We strive to offer the best advice, and have a range of insurance products available, from stock classics, modified classics and modern classics, all the way through to conventional car and household cover. We do not believe in a 'one-product-fits-all' philosophy, which seems to be the way of a lot of the telesales operations out there.
“We are also able to offer certain clients a 'fleet' policy. Many classic car owners have more than one vehicle, often possessing several between husband and wife, for example. Dealing with different policy renewal dates for these can be both tedious and frustrating, and we therefore currently have many clients with multi-vehicle policies, covering all their classics and everyday vehicles, with a single renewal date. Not only does this offer greater convenience – both for the client and for us, it must be said – but also works out, in many cases, considerably cheaper than insuring all the vehicles separately. Again, this highlights another of the benefits of using a specialist broker,” concludes Darren.
As owners of vehicles that sit proudly outside of the automotive mainstream, hot rodders probably need to consider their insurance requirements more carefully than most car drivers. After listening to Darren’s observations, the use of a specialist insurer, such as Classicline, would seem to be both a sensible and a cost-effective option. It also offers the added bonus of avoiding the need to deal with call-centre automatons who don’t know the difference between a Deuce coupe and an Audi TT coupe.
We certainly know who we’d prefer to have a conversation with about our car insurance requirements.