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Guide to Classic, Prestige & High Performance Car Insurance

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Guide to Classic, Prestige & High Performance Car Insurance

Guide to Classic, Prestige & High Performance Car Insurance

Performance car insurance can be tricky, as Insurers like a known quantity – with the more examples the better, preferably of identical specification. In terms of motor insurance, therefore, the most favoured vehicle from an insurer’s point of view is likely to be any popular, mass produced model. The insurer’s favourite, in other words, is likely to be the antithesis of high performance, classic or prestige – the very qualities likely to make the car either one of a kind or at least in a category of its own.

Since insurance may prove a difficulty, with particular stumbling blocks for the unwary, this guide takes a close look at insuring:

  • high performance cars – how does performance set one car apart from another and why does this impact its insurance;
  • imports – if the car has been imported, there may be special considerations taken into account by any insurer;
    modifications – to what extent do modifications to the vehicle affect the insurance needed;
  • classic cars – many people are likely to agree on some of the qualities that go into the making of a classic car, but how do you define it exactly; and
  • prestige and high vale cars are also likely to come into a class of their own when it comes to insurance.

Whatever it is that marks your car out from the rest of the herd, there may be particular considerations and difficulties in arranging precisely the insurance cover you need.

To help you in that quest, a specialist motor insurance broker may have the necessary expertise and experience – the very expertise and experience we offer here at GSI Insurance.

High performance

Just like any other motor vehicle, you have a legal obligation to ensure that your high performance car has a minimum of third party insurance – whether you are driving it on the roads, any other public area or even keeping it on your driveway or in the road.

The requirement is there to protect the interests of other road users and those who might be affected by your driving if you cause injury to others or damage the property they own.

As the government’s website makes clear, the law is strict and the penalties for driving without insurance are severe – you may face stiff fines, lose your driving licence, or even have the vehicle in question towed away and destroyed.

In addition to the required protection for any third party, you are also likely to want protection against loss or damage to your car. At the very least, this might extend to third party, fire and theft cover, but in the case of a high performance vehicle is likely to be fully comprehensive cover.

In that case, any insurer needs to assess the risk of your:

  • causing injury to someone else or damaging their property; and
  • having your car stolen or damaged, whether in collision with another vehicle or otherwise.

On both scores, most insurers are likely to consider a high performance vehicle a higher risk to other road users and to the possibility of theft or accidental damage.

Interestingly, this does not necessarily equate to the value of the car itself. Reviews of cars that are considered to be high performance often suggest that they may also fall into a more or less reasonable price range. The well-known car prices guide, Parkers, for example, on the 22nd of January 2016 published its pick of the top ten high performance cars, which included one for less than £17,000.

The defining qualities of your high performance car – engine size, power, acceleration, top speed and the like – are all factors which are likely to make most insurers distinctly nervous. The greater the risk, the higher the insurance category into which your vehicle is likely to fall and the more expensive are the premiums you have to pay.

To ensure that you get the protection you need to meet your obligations to other road users, and the safeguards you want in the event of accidental loss or damage to the car itself, you might therefore look to a specialist motor insurance broker capable of delivering all this – at a competitive price.


In this essentially post-industrial age, where British motor manufacturing has long passed its heyday, you might be surprised by the reminder that there were once more than 500 separate car makers in the country – and that there are still 35 different British marques.

This abundance of manufacturers was important to motor insurers since it meant fairly simple and straight forward costing of loss or damage to the locally produced vehicle, the price of replacement parts and the availability of trained mechanics to carry out any necessary repairs.

Imported vehicles, on the other hand, represented a different kettle of fish. Fluctuations in the market and variable exchange rates meant that the cost of imported parts was not only subject to wide variation but likely to be more expensive than parts manufactured locally. The same uncertainty about changing prices may have even bigger repercussions in the event of a total write-off requiring replacement of the vehicle itself.

The training of mechanics in the repair of imported vehicles was also likely to take a greater investment by garages, which had the knock-on effect of making repairs more expensive too.

Steady globalisation of the world’s economy may have taken the edge off some of these implications, largely stabilising the cost of imported parts and vehicles, and increasing the number of mechanics trained in their repair and maintenance.

Nevertheless, insurers continue to consider imported vehicles to be in a different category to the home-made varieties. An imported vehicle, for instance, is likely to be placed in a higher insurance class than a locally manufactured car of similar specification and performance – and the higher the class, the more expensive the insurance premiums.

Different insurers may attach a different level of importance to whether or not a car is imported and some specialise in providing car for such vehicles.

Identifying those insurers, however, is often less than straight forward. Helping you to make sure that your specific needs and requirements for insurance of an imported car, is matched to the most competitively priced premiums, therefore, you might want to draw on the specialist knowledge of that insurance market by brokers such as ourselves at GSI Insurance.


It may be possible to make your car stand out from the crowd by modifying its engine or body from the way in which it left the factory.

At the very time you are helping to personalise your car by making it as distinctive as possible, however, you are also likely to be giving your motor insurer a headache.

In insurance terms, modifications are considered to be “material facts”. These are facts which are deemed likely to affect the way in which risks of loss or damage are assessed by the insurer. In accordance with the law on insurance contracts, you have a duty to disclose all such material facts. This is a product of the principle known as “utmost good faith” (or uberimae fideii, to give it its Latin legal term).

If you breach this principle of disclosing any material fact, the insurer is entitled to consider the insurance contract null and void – so that any claim you make is ultimately rejected.

The problem

There is a major problem with the interpretation of this principle when applied to vehicle modifications, however. What, exactly, is meant by the term “modification”?

Confusion in the minds of vehicle owners and insurers alike is illustrated by guidance published for its members by the Association of British Insurers (ABI):

  • many consumers simply do not understand what is meant by the term;
  • In the absence of such understanding, it may be easy for the insured to simply not realise that they had failed to disclose something the insurer considers to be an important modification;
  • if the insurer’s proposal form asks the question “has the vehicle been modified”, the consumer remains in the dark as to what modifications need to be disclosed;
  • the ABI, therefore, recommends its members to give specific examples of some of the most typical modifications in order to guide consumers;
  • examples of modifications to the vehicle since it left the factory are given by the ABI as alterations to the bodywork, such as body kits or spoilers, cosmetic modifications such as paintwork or wheel rims, changes to the brakes or suspension, changes that alter the engine performance, and even changes to the in-car entertainment system.
    For final clarification, the ABI’s guidance insists that any alteration or modification of the car manufacturer’s standard specification must be disclosed by the consumer.

The solution

As may be clear, therefore, the onus is on the vehicle owner to disclose any number of even apparently very minor modifications to the insurer.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the subject of modifications remains confusing – if not downright murky – to many vehicle owners.

In order to help you stay the right side of your insurer when it comes to vehicle modifications, and to avoid your being taken by a nasty surprise if a claim is rejected following an accident, you might first want to discuss with us here at GSI Insurance exactly how your car has been modified.

Classic cars

Any consideration of classic car insurance begs the question what is a classic car?

Such a simple question has no such simple answer.

In common usage, most people are likely to recognise many of the attributes of a classic car – such cars tend to attract particular interest and admiration, they may be valuable or rare (or both), and they might be defined as being over a certain age.

Pinning down a precise definition, however, might prove more problematic and even avowed classic car enthusiasts might disagree on just what makes a classic vehicle – as a debate on the website Piston Heads illustrates.

Classic car insurance

When it comes to insurers, there may be even wider variations and disagreements about the classification of a classic vehicle.

Common, popular, widely bought and generally mass-produced cars may be one thing, but the notion of a classic car may throw many standard motor insurers into a spin. Their response when faced by any such situation is either to decline your application for cover altogether or to hike up the cost of premiums in such an exaggerated manner as to discourage your further interest.

GSI Insurance

At GSI Insurance, we recognise the appeal of a classic car – in any way you may care to define it. If you regard it as a classic and it is more than, say, 15 years old, we are likely to regard it as a classic car too.

What that means is that we are able to bring to bear our knowledge and experience in understanding the needs and requirements of classic car owners. As specialists in this niche of the motor insurance market, we are then able to identify the policies most likely to meet your needs and requirements – and to offer you quotations based on some of the most competitively priced premiums in the market.

Special features of our classic car policies, for example, include agreement on the valuation of your vehicle, cover for events and rallies (including up to 90 days each year driving in Europe), cover for spare parts, legal expenses cover and discounts of up to 10% for members of recognised classic car clubs.

Prestige and high value cars

Insurers are in the business of assessing risks – if a proposal is accepted, the higher the perceived risks, the more you are going to be charged in premiums. So the insurer’s assessment of risk is critical.

With respect to prestige and high value cars, the risk is by definition greater than for a car lacking that prestige or value. The risk of a significantly higher claim is naturally greater if the vehicle in question has particular prestige or is of a higher than standard value.

The assessed risk of having to pay out a substantial claim, of course, is the single most important determining factor in any insurer’s calculation of the price of premiums that are necessary to cover that risk.

Prestige and value may be the determining factors, but additional considerations are likely to be:

  • the overall – generally high – performance of the vehicle;
  • the standard and build of the car and its top end engineering features; and
  • the possibility of it being an imported model – with potentially higher costs of repairs and replacement parts.
  • these might all be some of the features that make a prestige or high value model your dream car – and the very reasons why it might be a standard insurer’s nightmare.

We recognise that you have every right in making your dreams come true – and if those are realised in owning a distinctively desirable motor car, then insurance becomes a necessity too.

We aim to build a clear picture of your needs and requirements, based on just what makes your car special, and match those same needs and requirements to the products available in this niche of the motor insurance market. This calls for a degree of specialist expertise and experience, coupled with an ability to tailor the insurance to suit your individual case – an expertise and experience the like of which here at GSI Insurance we take great pride.

Our aim is to match your insurance needs – whatever the make, model, value or age of the car – with the appropriate product at a competitive rate.


There may be any number of reasons why your car stands out from the crowd. It might be a high performance vehicle, an import, modified in some way from the manufacturer’s standard specification, a classic car or a prestige or high value car.

It is precisely those features which are likely to have attracted you to that particular vehicle in the first place. Many insurers might take a quite contrary view and regard those very exceptions as contributing to the risks of an expensive claim on your part.

When faced with such risks, the standard response by many insurers may be to decline cover altogether or to increase premiums to a painfully high level. It may leave you with the impossible quandary of having to forego the car of your choice, or struggling with the difficulty in finding an insurer, even if that means paying a particularly high price for the cover you need.

Here at GSI Insurance we aim to break that deadlock by identifying those insurers with a specialist interest in extending cover to exceptional cars – without inflating the cost of premiums beyond the pale of affordability.
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