How to insure and store your car collection

Every car you own needs to be insured, but not necessarily under the same policy.

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Having a roster of cars has plenty of perks but it also comes with added levels of responsibility. You have several cars to protect so getting the right insurance deal is incredibly important. Meanwhile you’re going to have to think more carefully about maintenance and storage, particularly if any of your cars are prestige or classic.

How do I insure my car collection?

Think about the number of cars in your collection and how much they’re worth. Then think about the following:

How much coverage do I need?

As someone with several cars you probably know the drill when it comes to insurance. However, you might not have gone through all the different options, so it’s worth going over the three basic policy types you can get.

Third party insurance is the minimum level of coverage you need to take to the streets in Britain. Should you injure another driver or damage their car, it will pay for any medical or repair costs. However, you won’t receive a penny.

Third party, fire and theft is essentially the same level of coverage as above, but it will give you financial help if your car is stolen or damaged due to a fire.

Or you can get a comprehensive policy. If you have a car or a collection of cars that are incredibly valuable, then this might be the way to go. Not only does it offer all the same levels of protection as third party, fire and theft. With a comprehensive deal the insurer will pay out for any damage to your vehicle, even if the accident was your fault.

What’s the best type of policy?

Beyond comprehensive and collision coverage, you can choose between these insurance policies:

  • Collector car insurance. You can get a policy specifically designed for car collectors, which offers fully comprehensive coverage and then extras like European touring, event and rally protection; and will let you choose your own repairer.
  • Multicar policy. You can put up to five cars on one policy with a multicar deal. It can work out being cheaper and you will most likely get a discount for having multiple cars too. Plus having several cars on one policy can be more convenient as you only have to pay one premium each month or year.
  • Telematics insurance. Getting a black box fitted in your car that monitors how many miles you travel or how responsibly you drive can slash costs on your premium. You might only use a car occasionally, maybe as a weekend sports car? Well getting a pay-per-mile deal might be ideal.
  • Classic car insurance. Your vintage or collector car probably has a special place in your heart, so it’s crucial you get the right level of protection. A classic car insurance deal will typically come with a lower premium too as the insurance company will assume you’ll treat the car with utmost care and you won’t be doing too many miles in it.
  • Prestige car insurance. With a top-of-the-range car you will want more than just basic third party insurance, as repairing or replacing a top-quality motor will cost a fair amount.
  • Laid up car insurance. If you’re not using your car for most of the year or you want to do major repairs on it, you might well register it as not in use and off the road (SORN.) Yet you’ll want to get coverage for theft or for accidental damage. In which case a laid up car insurance policy would be what you’re after. A specialist car collector policy could well offer this.

Ways to get a cheaper premium as a car collector

Ask your insurer about these discounts:

  • Multicar deal. As already mentioned, insuring more than one car on the same deal is a great way to earn a discount as a car collector.
  • Heightened security. Keep your vehicles in a garage or another secure place, rather than on the street, as it might help lower your premium. Using security features like a steering wheel lock could help too.
  • Telematics. As discussed above, getting a black box fitted that measures when you drive and how responsibly can slash insurance costs over time.

How to get an agreed value policy

If you have an expensive classic or modified car you’ll probably want to ask your insurer for an agreed value deal. Should you have to go through the ordeal of having your car declared a total loss, it will ensure you’re compensated for a higher amount – whatever you agree with the insurer.

If you don’t get an agreed value policy then the insurer will only pay you market value in the event your car is written off.

Why could this be disastrous? Well, given your classic car may be several decades old, the insurer might offer far less than what you think it’s worth. Reasoning that old cars depreciate in value, the insurance company might ignore the fact it’s been well preserved and looked after over the years.

What’s the best way to store my car collection?

The right storage will keep your car collection secure and help lower your premiums. Key factors to consider when working out how you’ll store your vehicles include, what time of year it is, the age and value of your cars and how long they’ll be in storage.

  • Home garage. There are a few factors to consider: Is the garage big enough? Is it safe and secure? Is the environment conducive to car storage? To keep your car in prime condition, your storage space should have an average temperature of 20°C and humidity around 45%. A lower humidity can crack the upholstery in your car over time and mould and mildew can develop in very humid conditions. You can adjust your garage’s climate conditions by adding air conditioning and a humidifier (for dry, hot climates) or dehumidifier (for damp climates).
  • Storage unit. If your garage won’t do the job then you can rent out space in a specialist car storage unit. It can provide the appropriate environment to keep your vehicle in good shape, while also offering high levels of security.
  • On-street or outdoor storage. If your area has low crime rates then you might consider leaving it outside. However, it will be at the mercy of the British weather, so even getting an all-purpose cover for it might not be enough.
  • Garage share app. With an app like JustPark, someone who doesn’t need their garage or parking space can rent out their spot. This is probably more of a temporary option though.

Are storage facilities safe for my car collection?

Yes, as long as they’re secure and insured.

If possible, take a trip to the storage facility so you can answer these questions for yourself:

  • Does the facility employ security? Is its surveillance 24/7? To ensure your car isn’t stolen or vandalised, look for a facility with high levels of security and limited staff access to the garages.
  • Is it well-lit and maintained?
  • Is the garage locked and will it protect the car from the elements?
  • Is it climate-controlled? Make sure it will give your car the right temperature and humidity levels.
  • Does it insure your vehicle from theft, vandalism or fire? If your homeowners insurance won’t extend your cover to protect belongings you put in a storage unit, see if you can get an insurance deal through the storage company.

What should I do to prep my car for storage?

Once you’ve found a climate-controlled, secure storage space, prep your car with some basic maintenance.

  1. Fill the tank up with petrol. An empty tank can collect moisture and cause condensation to build up in your car.
  2. Add a fuel stabiliser. If you’re storing the car for up to 12 months, this step will make the fuel last longer.
  3. Invest in a smart charger. This device will keep your battery topped up during periods of inaction. Although you’re advised to turn on the engine for a bit every few weeks too.
  4. Change the oil, brake fluid and antifreeze. Fresh oil and fluids will keep your car in working condition.
  5. Inflate tyres. Pumping them up before you put your car into storage is a good idea. So too is raising the car off the ground while it’s stored away, this will prevent “flat spots”.
  6. Cover and clean your car. Don’t put a dirty car into storage. Protect the paint job washing and waxing the car, vacuuming and dusting the interior and applying a conditioner to any vinyl surfaces. When you reach the storage space, wipe down the car to remove dust and debris, then cover it with a specialised cover.

What should I do after taking my car out of storage?

Make sure your car is ready for the road by following these tips:

  1. Insurance. Make sure your car is insured before it hits the road. If it has been stored away under a SORN then it would be illegal to drive off without updating its status to road ready and getting an insurance policy.
  2. Air out the car. Lower the car off any blocks and wind down the windows to get rid of any musty smells.
  3. Check the battery. Your car may well struggle to get going after months out of action, so charge the battery up and check the cables for signs of rust.
  4. Inspect the engine. Confirm there’s no damage to the belts and hoses, then change any dirty filters.
  5. Adjust the tyres. Check the tyre pressure and make sure the tyres don’t have any cracks or bulges in the rubber.
  6. Assess the fluid levels. Inspect the oil, water, brake fluid, windscreen washer fluid and coolant, then change or add as needed. If you’re running really low on any fluids, look under the car for leaks.
  7. Wash the car. The chances are the car will have collected some dust and debris, even if you have kept it securely covered and locked away. To make sure it’s looking its immaculate best you might want to give it a good clean.
  8. Start the engine. Turn the engine on and let it warm up for 20 minutes. While doing this, press the brake pedal and watch for warning lights on the dashboard. Once it has had some time to heat up take it out for a slow drive and listen out for any unusual sounds.

Bottom line

It takes a lot to keep a collection of cars pristine and in good working condition. It’s clear that maintenance and storage are crucial in protecting your roster of vehicles.

Each and every car needs to be insured too, and you might well find a mutlicar policy or even a specialist car collector’s insurance deal is what you need for all your various vehicles.

As always though, work out what level of coverage you want for your motors then shop around and compare all the different options out there.

Frequently asked questions about car collections

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