Do I need specialist kit car insurance?

You’ve done it. You’ve salvaged the parts from an old Mazda, spent hours breathing oil-soaked air under the chassis of your kit car, and now, finally, your Westfield (GBS, Dax 427 Cobra Replica or whichever …

You’ve done it. You’ve salvaged the parts from an old Mazda, spent hours breathing oil-soaked air under the chassis of your kit car, and now, finally, your Westfield (GBS, Dax 427 Cobra Replica or whichever kit car you’ve lovingly bolted together), purrs to life.

If you’ve spent hours shut in your garage, putting together a beautiful, one-of-a-kind kit car, you’ll want to know whether you need specialist kit car insurance. It’s definitely important to make sure your car is properly insured, so that nothing stops you from taking to the road.

Let’s face it, kit cars are pretty extraordinary. Whether you’re sticking strictly to a step-by-step manual, or going off-the-road on your design strategy (hello, custom grille for your nose cone), you’ll need insurance as individual as the car you’ve created, to make sure you’re properly covered.

In this article we’re going to cover whether it is worth getting kit car insurance before it’s ready for the road, what kit car insurance covers as well as the types of cover you can get depending on where you are in your journey and what you intend to use it for, and how you can reduce the costs of your kit car insurance.

Do I need specialist kit car insurance?

You always need insurance if you’re driving a kit car on the road, but you may want to consider getting specialist kit car insurance, which can cover your project before it’s fully assembled, and provide protection if it is locked up in your garage for the winter or taking pride of place at an exhibition.

Specialist kit car insurance can also cover you for the agreed value of your car, rather than just its current market value, and because kit cars often increase, rather than depreciate, in value, this can help you claim back a fair price for your car in the event of a write off.

Let’s dive in and look at specialist kit car insurance in further detail.

Why is specialist kit car insurance important?

Specialist kit car insurance is important because any car that you build yourself will have different requirements to a vehicle produced by a manufacturer.

Regular insurance is unlikely to cover your car, especially if you add modifications and deviate from the original kit specifications, use it for exhibitions, or use it on track.

If you want to drive a car you’ve assembled yourself, you’ll need to pass an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) test to apply for registration in the UK.

Any kit car that’s half-built in your garage is not going to be covered under your home contents insurance. As a result, you may wish to insure your kit before it’s fully assembled, and you’ll need specialist insurance to do this

Specialist insurance can also protect your pride and joy if you’re locking it away in the winter months (they are not exactly built for adverse weather conditions!).

While some drivers do run their kit all year round, many enthusiasts let their kit cars hibernate and SORN the vehicle. You don’t have to leave your vehicle uninsured during this time. Rather, you can leave your insurance running all year round, so you’ve got full cover if you want to jump in for a quick blat if the unpredictable British weather gives you a rare sunny day.

Specialist insurance is important if you have a kit car, because not only is it tailored to the specifications of your vehicle, it also ensures that you get back a realistic value of your car in the event of an insurance claim, especially as kit cars can sometimes increase, rather than depreciate, in value.

Kit cars are unique and that makes it a greater challenge to value them. It’s very rare you’ll find 2 kit cars exactly the same and you may deviate away from what’s considered the “norm”, for example you may choose to fit a full roll cage instead of a roll bar.

Specialist kit car insurance understands the true grit of spit and sawdust that goes into producing your masterpiece along with the numerous hours of hard work you’ve put into your car.

There’s no exact guide when it comes to kits, but specialist providers who understand the car and have the knowledge of the market can agree a value for your kit car in advance with you, rather than relying on just the market value for your car. This agreed value is provided by most specialist insurers, but not all of them so if it is something you are after then make sure you check if it’s possible with who you’re quoting with.

How does specialist insurance for kit cars work?

The first thing to know about insuring your kit car is that you need insurance as unique as the car you have created. No two kit cars are the same, so the only way to make sure you’re covered insurance-wise is to have an expert assess your specific kit car and tailor a policy for you.

Surprisingly, kit car insurance often costs less than expected, and may be cheaper to insure than your daily run-around car.

As kit cars are bespoke creations, they are usually treated as leisure vehicles, weekend cars and summer toys. Due to this, their risk is actually pretty low. Kit cars do very little mileage in comparison to your daily use vehicle, rarely see bad weather conditions and because most don’t have doors or a roof they’re kept locked away in a garage or under cover, safe from thieves and damage.

Your insurer also knows that if you’ve built your car from the ground up, you’re more likely to treat it well, and if you do catch your sump on a pesky speedbump, you’re probably going to repair it yourself, if there’s no substantial damage.

A big factor in kit car insurance is driving experience. The cars don’t weigh a lot and as a result they can be quite powerful when you hit the pedals. So, if it’s your first year of driving something like this, then you will probably face a slightly higher premium. However, get some experience under your belt and you’ll reap the benefits of having lower premiums.

With most cars, insurance companies can readily access all the information to value them and pull up a quote with the tap of a finger, but with kit cars, it’s not quite that simple.

Insurers have to look at a variety of things and will often use a specialist broker to help them cover you correctly; including detailing modifications and security measures you have in place (kit owners are partial to a removable steering wheel), how to insure your car while it’s still being built, and what you’ll use the car for.

However, the extra time spent speaking to an expert advisor is usually worth it if it means your kit car (which, for many, is their prized possession and the glowing result of weeks, months and maybe years of tinkering in a spider-filled garage) is completely covered, and you’ll get a fair payout should you lose it through theft or an accident.

When you get your kit car insured, be prepared to tell your insurer all your car’s specifications, including its make, model, registration (or chassis number if pre-IVA) and engine size and type (for example, you may have a Ferrari 250 GTO replica, but with an MX250 engine [CN3] or other donor parts).

While most kit car insurers will have special insurance schemes available if you’ve got your kit car from manufacturers like Great British Sportscars (GBS), MK Sportscars or AK Sports Cars, you’ll usually find that you can get insurance for your kit car, no matter how randomly sourced its parts are.

You’ll also need to tell your insurer exactly what you’re going to use your kit car for, as this will significantly change your insurance premiums.

For example, a kit car that you’re going to throw around a track circuit every weekend or use to guzzle up thousands of miles taking you here, there and everywhere is going to cost more in premiums (and will require different forms of specialist insurance) than one you’re planning to keep in a secure garage, just for show.

Depending on your situation, there’s a variety of things that your kit car insurance can cover, which you wouldn’t find with ordinary car insurance.

For example, you can insure your kit car while it’s being built, get salvage retention cover which means you can get the wreckage of your car back after its written off and use its parts to build another car, and get special insurance for track day use, or just using showing it off at an exhibition.

Also, specialist insurers give you the option of using your own chosen repairer if you do have a garage that you trust knows your car.

What does specialist kit car insurance cover?

Specialist kit car insurance covers you for standard risks such as third-party damage, fire and theft, depending on the level of insurance you choose. As well as this, kit car insurance can offer the following insurance measures:

Build up cover

Build up cover protects your kit car before it’s fully built. Because you’ll spend so much time building your kit car, and probably waiting for special parts to arrive, it will spend a lot of time in your garage or shed in an unfinished state. This leaves it open to theft or having its parts stripped, not to mention the general risk of accidental damage and fire. Therefore, as well as having a secure place to keep your car, build up cover also helps protect your car as soon as its parts arrive. If any parts are stolen, you’ll be able to claim back their cost though your policy. The right tools are the difference between a satisfying car building experience and hours of frustration, and if you’re using expensive tools for your kit car, you can insure them under your home contents insurance policy (just check it includes contents in your outbuildings) or you can purchase tools cover insurance on its own.

Agreed value cover

It’s worth considering agreed value cover for your kit car, although bear in mind that newer builds may not be eligible. Getting an agreed valuation on your insurance means that you and your insurer will agree how much your kit car is worth and this is the amount of money you’ll receive as a pay-out should your car be written off.

How long these agreed values last for will vary with each insurer, so be prepared to refresh your agreed value when your renewal approaches (although many agreements can last for 2-3 years).

The process of getting your value agreed for your kit car also varies according to the insurance company you choose. It could be as simple as submitting a criteria of photographs or some may require an independent valuation from a club or dealership.

Salvage retention

It’s a good idea to get salvage retention cover for your kit car in the event of a write off, if you think you’ll use the parts to build another car, or repair the car to an entirely roadworthy condition (this could save you some money, rather than having to buy new parts for a new kit car). Whether you can keep the salvage (whatever is left after an accident) of your vehicle depends on what category of write off it is. You can usually keep the salvage of your vehicle if it is a Category S or N write-off, as these categories mean that the car can eventually be repaired to a roadworthy condition (the only time you will not be able to retrieve the salvage of your kit car is if it is classified as a Category A or B write-off). If you get salvage retention cover for your kit car, it means that you’ll get the money for the value of your kit car, minus the overall value of the salvage: what the insurer would have got for it by selling it to a scrap yard.

Parts only

If you’ve built an entire kit car from scratch, you likely have the skills to do any repairs yourself. So, you could consider getting parts only insurance as a way of keeping insurance costs down. Parts-only insurance covers the only the cost of the parts of your car that are damaged, and not the cost of labour, seeing as you’ll be doing the work yourself. You can usually save around 30% on your overall insurance premium by just paying to replace key parts, and not for labour.

Laid Up

People don’t always build kit cars for driving. As mentioned previously, a lot of owners SORN their vehicles in the winter when weather is less favourable, so actually they only see the road for 6 months of the year.

Often, kit cars take pride of place in the garage as a restoration project (which quite often has gone on far longer than anticipated) or win prizes at exhibitions, shows or competitions. In this case, it’s worth considering laid up insurance that just covers your vehicle if it’s off the road.

Track days

If you and your kit car regularly tear up the tarmac at track days, it’s definitely worth considering track day insurance, which most kit car insurers will offer.

Track day insurance isn’t a requirement to go on the circuits, but it does give you peace of mind. Let’s face it, if you’ve got thousands of pounds worth of kit on a track with drivers that you don’t know the experience or capabilities of. It’s always a good idea to protect your pride and joy

Track day cover can be purchased for individual track days with certain providers and brokers. However, if you’re doing 2 or more track days in the year then some insurers and specialist brokers have options for track day cover, which you can purchase as a bundle and bolt a specialist kit car insurance policy.

This usually works out much more cost effective and can save you quite a few pennies which we all know are better spent on parts, and perhaps a stock of those forever vanishing 10mm sockets.

Exhibitions and rallies

If you’ve spent hours creating a stunning replica kit car, it makes sense to show it off at car shows, exhibitions and rallies.

However, this often means transporting it to and from the venue. Many specialist insurance policies include cover for shows, rallies and events so having cover in place for your kit car means you’re safe if anything happens to, from and during the event.

Again, if this is something you plan to do then make sure you check that the cover you’re getting includes it.

How do I find the best insurance for my kit car?

You’ll definitely need a specialist insurance broker to find the best insurance for your kit car, simply because of how varied and unusual these vehicles are.

As your car will be highly individual and personalised, you’ll need specialist insurance which covers all the things your car needs (for example, build up cover or exhibition cover).

Insurance brokers can offer these in much more range and detail than insurance comparison websites, and you’ll probably find that a comparison website can’t even find your vehicle.

Insurance brokers often have special relationships with a wide range of insurance companies, particularly specialist insurers and broker only insurers whom you can’t contact directly for a quotation.

As a result of these relationship you can usually get better deals out of insurance companies because they have specially designed policies and broker agreements.

Look out for brokers who have access to a wide range of specialist kit car insurance schemes, covering key kit car companies such as GBS, Robin Hood, Caterham and Lotus Seven Replicas, Lomax and Quantum models, but can also tailor a policy as unique as the car you have created, whether or not it’s a kit car from a recognisable manufacturer.

How Much Does a Kit Car Insurance Cost?

How much your kit car insurance costs depends on a wide variety of factors, including:

  • Your age. As with any car insurance policy, if you’re an older, more experience driver with a record of careful driving, you’ll find it easier to get cheaper car insurance. If you’re under 21, you’ll will struggle to get cover, as very few providers and brokers will insure under 21s on a kit car.
  • Car modifications. If you’re adding additional parts and components that increase the power and performance of your kit car, then this is likely to have an impact on your insurance premium. Simply changing from a roll-bar to a full roll cage or having custom seats installed isn’t going to effect your power output so this is less likely to impact your premiums.
  • Parts only. As we described in our “What will kit car insurance cover?” section, if you have the ability to fix any damages that your kit car undergoes, you can just get insurance cover for broken car parts in the event of an accident. Your insurance will cover the cost of the replacement parts rather than also factoring in the cost of labour, meaning that your car insurance will be cheaper, as you won’t be paying for labour (which you’ll do yourself).
  • What you use your kit car for. Obviously, if you are ripping up a race circuit regularly in your kit car, your insurance will be more expensive with additional track cover and annual mileage than if you keep your kit car in your garage just to admire it, or use it to cruise leisurely around the neighbourhood.
  • Optional extras. You’ll need to consider what brokers have available to you and what your needs are. If you do have an accident in this type of vehicle, you are likely to hurt yourself, as you’re exposed a lot more than in a “standard” car. For this reason, you may wish to consider adding legal expenses to your policy, as you can usually get these at quite a low cost. You may also wish to consider breakdown cover. While many people get cover with their banks, now, it’s worth reading the terms, as a lot don’t cover vehicles over 16 years old. Also, if you have a donor engine from an older car, this could cause difficulty if you end up stranded somewhere, so it’s best to have protection in place before you take to the road.

There are no standard prices for kit car insurance, given that each kit car and situation is overwhelmingly unique. However, the cost is generally lower than that of a daily use vehicle that racks up the annual miles.

You will need a specialist insurer, usually through a specialist broker, to ensure that you are getting the right cover for your pride and joy, and this may mean having to speak to an advisor over the phone. With everything being automated these days, we often shy away from speaking to an actual human, but it’s not as daunting as it seems and the price and cover you get in return will be worth it.

How can I reduce the costs of my kit car insurance?

There are a number of ways you can reduce the overall cost of your kit car insurance, and keep the price of your premiums down. These include:

  • Joining a kit car club. Many insurers offer discounts if you’re a member of a kit car club, which can sometimes save you as much as 15% on insurance. The UK has kit car enthusiast clubs for almost every type of kit car and area of the country, so you’ll be in good company if you join one. Often, these aren’t just clubs, but true communities, filled with a wealth of knowledge to share if you do run into bumps along the way of your build, or break down whilst enjoying a blat.
  • Security modifications. Make sure you ramp up the security on your car, as this can have a significant effect on your insurance costs. The more risk your car has of being broken in to, for example, the higher your premiums will be. If you’re installing security modifications like immobilisers or car alarms separately, make sure these are Thatcham approved devices. Common security measures for kits is a removable steering wheel or a cut off switch as well. While this won’t necessarily impact insurance, it will give you that extra peace of mind.
  • Limited mileage discounts. If you’re not planning on driving your kit car much, make sure you let your insurer know. The fewer miles you drive the cheaper your insurance premiums, as you’re not on the road risking accidents. Make sure you’re being honest about the amount of miles you drive, as your policy may be invalid if you breach the limit. Some insurers will reduce the cover once mileage is exceeded and others offer an increased excess as a penalty for going over the miles you are insured for.
  • Multi-car policy. If you own and insure another car, you can put your kit car down as a second car on a multi car policy, which can decrease the price of your kit car insurance significantly. It’s worth noting though that if you insure with a specialist insurer for your kit car, then those specialist insurers will likely look at your standard cars as additional vehicles, whereas they wouldn’t quote the standard vehicle on its own. So putting the kit car with them first opens up the opportunity for further discounts.

Is it legal to drive my kit car on the road?

In order to drive your kit car legally on the road, it has to pass certain safety tests. You won’t be able to get your kit car registered unless it meets road vehicle regulations and passes something called an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) test. The IVA inspection will examine every detail of your kit car, from your seat belt anchorages to your rear fog lamps, to make sure your vehicle is safe for the road.

You’ll also need to make an application to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to register your kit car. To register a new vehicle (including a newly-built kit car, where all parts are supplied new by the manufacturer), you need to fill in form V55/4, and to register a used vehicle (including a rebuilt vehicle), you need to fill in form V55/5.

We’ve now covered exactly how kit car insurance works, the different things that kit car insurance can cover: from build up cover to track day insurance, and whether it is worth getting kit car insurance pre-IVA. Kit cars are often a labour of love and sacrifice, so it’s vital that you get the right insurance so that you can enjoy in the way you deserve, whether you’re showing it off at a car show or taking it out on the road.