FBHVC warns that historic vehicle clubs need to make sure that they’re fully covered from legal challenges…
Clubs giving advice to owners of MoT-exempt classics are having to take extra legal precautions against giving out the wrong advice – because the rules covering the cars arc so loose.
Insurers arc now working with clubs to offer greater liability cover to protect classic experts advising owners on the changes to roadworthiness checks, which were brought in on 20 May and now exempt virtually all historic vehicles from annual testing.
The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC), said that it was aware of the issue and the risk that clubs and individuals faced if insurers, the police or authorities disagreed with club-led advice.
Communications director, Geoff Lancaster, said; ‘Underwriters took a while to recognise the implications of MoT exemption, and brokers had to scramble to provide cover? we’re seeing the first products coming on to the market now.
‘When the Department tor Transport and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency were drawing up the rules for MoT exemptions and Vehicles of Historic Interest (VHI), the FBHVC was invited to create a list of marque experts to advise the public on whether or not their cars were eligible for MoT exemption, because of the loose definitions and loopholes surrounding what is and isn’t a VHI, especially when the ‘‘substantially altered” system is taken into account.
“Many clubs are staffed by volunteers and they would need protecting from the legal action that might ensue if an authority or insurer disagreed on whether or not a car should have been declared as a VHI.’
Specialist Peter Janies was the first company to offer extra insurance cover in case clubs were sued for giving ‘bad’ advice; unfortunately, the implications for dispute are far ranging.
Many of the larger clubs that CCW spoke to – including the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club and the Triumph Sports Six Club – told us that they already had extra liability cover in place to prevent legal challenges over insurance valuation disputes.
Graham Searle, General Manager of the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club, said: ‘The values of many of our vehicles would make insurers nervous if we got it wrong, especially if a given car turned out to be something other than it seemed; one decent claim could Otherwise wipe us out, f We regularly update our liability cover and J would urge all clubs – particularly the smaller ones – to make sure they do the same. It’s a sad sign of the times but there are just too many people willing to fake or clone cars then sell them on to u n suspect in g buyers.’
Bernard Robinson, editor of the Triumph Sport Six Club’s magazine, The Courier, felt that extra liability cover against legal challenges was essential to protect a club’s status as an impartial valuation source.
He said: The service that we offer to members is recognised by four insurers; self-condition forms (where owners submit their own valuations to insurers when taking out or renewing cover) just muddy the waters in our experience and can complicate legal challenges as owners tend to wildly under-or over-value their vehicles.
It’s a double-edged sword; extra liability cover protects the insurers as much as it protects clubs.
THE RULES SHOULD CLEARER
’One of the consistent themes throughout the introduction of MoT exemption has been a lack of clear, concise guidance on the subject from the Department for Transport. Britain’s classic clubs have done an invaluable job of guiding owners of historic vehicles through the changes and giving advice as to whether owners’ modifications mean their cars can be exempted from annual testing. It’s a sad reflection of today’s litigious climate, however, that they feel they have to protect themselves from the ramifications of advice they give out to owners on the subject, whether it be right or wrong. The rules should have been made much clearer from the start – and not left to small, often volunteer-run classic car clubs to interpret.