CHAMP NEWS
Austin Champ Insurance

0800 numbers are free
A-Plan Insurance 01635 874646 Adrian Flux 0800 081 8989 Carole Nash 0800 093 5500 Cherished Vehicle Insurance, 01277 206911
Classic Line Insurance 01455 639000 Footman James 0844 826 9008 Gott&Wynne 01492 870991 Heritage Insurance 0845 373 4777
Lancaster Insurance 01480 484848 Lynbrook Insurance 0845 130 4662 Performance Direct 0844 573 3562 Peter Best Insurance 01621 840400
Peter s. Taylor & Co. 01273 820303 Sureterm Direct 0800 1313 783

Please check any information on this page before relying on it.

Part 1, INSURANCE COVER
Notes: 'First Party' is the insured; Second Party is the insurer; Third Party, anyone making a claim against the First or Second Party.
Vehicle insurance can be at one of four levels: Fully Comprehensive, Third Party Fire and Theft, Third Party Only and Road Traffic Act Only.

Fully Comprehensive: this covers the insured's and any Third Party for their vehicles and injuries.
Third Party Fire and Theft: the insured can only claim for his\her vehicle if it is destroyed by fire or stolen (see note), not when involved in an accident and cannot claim for any personal losses or injury. The insured is indemnified against claims by Third Parties. Note: if a vehicle is damaged by vandals it is likely the vehicle is not covered.
Third Party Only: as above but the insured cannot claim for the loss for his\her vehicle by fire or theft.
Road Traffic Act Only (UK): this is a minimum cover to satisfy the Road Traffic Acts only and is not usually sold in the UK.

Part 2, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Terms and conditions (T&C) can be divided into two parts: when insurance is first taken out and at renewal time. This seems obvious when taking out new insurance but not so obvious at renewal time, it is critical in both cases that the T&C's are read - never assume at renewal time that nothing has changed.
There is currently, early 2012, controversy concerning a major UK insurance company changing its T&C's regarding alcohol.
Say a driver has one pint of beer, or, in fact, any alcohol at all - but is below the legal limit - could his\her insurance be reduced to Third Party Only or, in fact, repudiated altogether?, the answer is, 'Yes'. Human performance is degraded from the first mouthful of alcohol, pilots are not allowed to drink any alcohol 48 hours prior to flying.
Another factor with vehicle insurance and alcohol is that a driver is presumed guilty until proved innocent - the opposite way around to the criminal justice system.
Repudiation of insurance: in the worst case of all the driver does not get any compensation for his\her injuries or vehicle and is liable for compensation\damages of the other party in the accident, which could, with personal injury, run into millions of £'s.
BOOKLETS
I contacted my insurance broker to ask some specific questions and, eventually, they said, "Had I read the booklets, "Specialist Vehicle Insurance" (SVI) and "Motor Insurance Additional Cover."?, which they said had been sent to me a while ago. The answer was, 'No', because I don't remember receiving them but I may be wrong. If you don't have up-to-date copies get them from your broker and read them.
The first page of the SVI says, "This document is a legally binding contract of insurance between you (the insured) and us (the insurer)...", that's nice to know after 13 years.
Driving other vehicles. Unless positively mentioned in an insurance certificate classic owners with their own insurance are not insured to drive anyone else's vehicle. At classic car shows I have often seen someone I know driving someone else's vehicle. Firstly, a classic car show open to the public is considered legally to be a public highway, including the requirement of insurance. At shows I was often asked to drive someone else's vehicle to, perhaps, comment on it or to assist with diagnosing a problem, I couldn't because there would be no insurance. I queried driving other vehicles with my broker who confirmed that I was not covered to drive other vehicles and said that no classic car policies allowed driving other vehicles, anyone found a policy that does allow this?
Payments.Standard classic car policies do not cover the vehicle for, say, hiring to a film company. I was asked to use my Champ to take some friends of friends to their military-themed party and they offered to pay the cost of petrol, I said, 'Yes' to transporting them and, 'No' to taking any money. This is playing safe on my part but, better safe than very sorry.

TOWING, TRAILERS, CARAVANS AND BROKEN DOWN VEHICLES.

First, it is worth reading the following, which is page 8 of a Specialist Vehicle Insurance booklet.

Towing

First line on the right. Unless a trailer or caravan is specifically insured it is not covered if stolen or damaged - my trailer is specifically mentioned on the Certificate of Insurance so, in effect, this changes the insurance on the trailer from Third Party to Fully Comprehensive.
Fourth line on the right. In the army the Champ could tow two trailers - there is a towhook on the back of trailers for this purpose - this is not allowed now.
Under, 'We will only provide this cover if:', first and second line. "... and any other relevant law." This comes back to, what the army did in the 1950's/60's is not acceptable today*. The standard Austin Champ towing gear and the trailers do not meet modern laws. Yet, very few Champ owners seem concerned about this, but they might be if their trailer breaks away from the vehicle. This subject will be covered in-depth in a forthcoming page on towing but suffice it to say here: if a trailer breaks away from a vehicle the trailer brakes must legally be automatically applied and locked-on; the Austin Champ towhook went through many modifications because it failed in army service and I made the assumption that the towhook on its own is not safe - it is also over 50 years old - and fitted chains between strong points on the back of the Champ to the trailer chassis, if the towhook fails the trailer will still be attached.
*in 1974 I was in the back of a 3 Ton lorry towing a trailer full of amunition and it broke away and went through a brickwall, luckily, no one got hurt, what if this had happened on a motorway?
Passengers in a trailer. At an organised classic car show, about ten years ago, there was a classic vehicle with a 1\2 ton trailer - the trailer had sides - and the trailer was full of people and, in effect, the driver was doing tours around the show. Was the vehicle, the trailer, and more importantly, were the people covered by the vehicle's classic car insurance?, an absolute, 'No'. If there had been an accident the driver would have been financially and legally liable on the grounds that the trailer was not a proper passenger carrying vehicle.

Part 3. MOTOR INSURANCE DATABASE

Insurer's notify the Motor Insurance Database (MID) that an insurance policy is in force for a specific vehicle. A check on a vehicle's insurance can come about from Number Plate Recognition cameras or a police request on the road. What happens if your insurance company did not notify the MID that your car is insured?, you are in trouble through no fault of your own and it is for you to prove you are insured, this is why it is wise to always carry your Insurance Certificate. The correct thing to always do, shortly after taking out insurance, is to check the MID, go to AskMID, it's free.
If you cannot prove you are insured the police can arrest you and confiscate your vehicle.
Is it worth taking out any less than Fully Comprehensive insurance? Two factors: one, the level of cover; two, classic car insurance is exceeedingly good value for money. I asked a director of one of the major insurance brokers why?, he said, 'Because you people don't make claims.

Part 4. AGREED VALUES AUSTIN CHAMP INSURANCE

Many of the principles here will apply to other ex-military vehicles and classic cars. There are many insurance brokers who specialise in ex-military vehicles and classic cars and links are shown at the top of this webpage.
Classic cars can be insured with, or without, an Agreed Value (AV) but it is wise, and hardly any more expensive, to insure with an AV. With an AV, and the vehicle is a total loss (written-off), the insurance company should pay out that AV - without an AV the market value only is paid, which can lead to much discussion - for further notes on this see, A True Story at the end of this section.
Who decides the AV? This can be done in one of two ways: one, the owner sets the AV and most owners know what their Champ is worth, this is called, 'self-certification'; two, an independent written valuation is done by someone who is regarded as somewhat of an expert on that marque, this is often a designated member of a club.
Could an owner (accidentally) overstate a vehicle's value? In the event of a total loss a vehicle examiner could inspect the vehicle on behalf of the insurance company, research values and, perhaps, disagree with the owner's self-certified value.
How to work out a self-determined value? Research previous sales, say over the last year and eBay is a good place to do this - classified adverts on the web are usually removed when a vehicle is sold - in eBay go to the Search Bar, click on Advanced tab to the right of the search window and put in 'Austin Champ', go down and click on, 'Completed listings', 'Auction' and 'Buy it now'. Another current source is Milweb and look under, Classified and Light Vehicles.
Is the AV the same as market value (the price an owner would advertise the vehicle for)? I would say, 'not quite'. Bear in mind that if the vehicle is stolen or written-off, could the owner relatively easily replace the vehicle lost with another of very similar condition? Here, the smaller number of vehicles ever made - Jeep production numbers are at least 40 times the number of Champs made - make it much harder - 13 years ago I did a total of 3,000 miles looking for a rust free and never-welded Champ. So keep in mind this difference, say, your body is very, very good but the mechanics need some work, compared with a Champ with excellent mechanics but with a body just about to break in two.
Quite a few years ago I had the first of these situations when I inspected a Champ to give an AV, although at first glance the Champ didn't seem anything special the body was original and rust free. I put the market value at £3,250 and the AV at £4,500 and I believe this value could be supported. With Champs, 'buy a rusty Champ in haste' and 'repent for ever'. So, err on the safe side with AV's and it's always important at renewal time to consider whether the AV is sufficient.
With Austin Champs there seems to be a maximum self-determination figure of £15,000, but this may vary with insurance companies, and above that figure an independent valuation will be required.
Premiums? My Champ has an AV of £15,000 and the premium is just over £200.00 for fully comprehensive, 2 drivers and unlimited mileage.
A true story
In the late 1970's I had a five year old Lancia Beta - a superb driver's car - and it was rust-free, yes, really!, it must nearly have been the only one and mechanically was in first class condition. It was under normal insurance, not AV. I lent the car to a 'friend' who drove it hard into the back of a stationary Ford Escort, both were write-offs.
The insurance company made an offer of payment for the car, let's say in today's money, £5,000. Having done some homework with adverts etc. I did not believe I could replace the Lancia for that figure and put it to the insurance company that if they believed the car could be replaced, then to supply me with that car. I met the insurance assessor, we went over the car, and the company increased their payment by 20%. So if your day-to-day car or classic without AV is written-off, do your homework and then discuss matters with your insurance company.
MOT's
Having no MOT (Ministry of Transport) test certificate will not usually affect the fact that the vehicle has insurance - excluding, of course, any mechanical defects which could - but a term in one policy states, "Please note that the absence of a current MOT Certificate for a vehicle used on the road may lead to any claim being settled on a 'Market Value basis." This condition is obvious in its own right but also that an AV is not quite the same as Market Value as discussed above in this section.

For more details on issuring a trailer for an Agreed value, Trailer Insurance

Part 5. SIGNING OFF A CLAIM

An insurance claim can be said to be in two parts: part 1 is physical damage to vehicles and, perhaps, to road surfaces, signs, etc.; Part 2 is personal injury.

A true story. A driver was stationary at traffic lights and his vehicle was hit from behind. The driver thought he had not been injured. The amount for the vehicle was agreed and driver signed away any further claims regarding the accident.
A few months later the driver started having problems with his eyesight. The Consultant examined his eyes and asked, "Have you been in a car accident?, you have detached retinas." The driver could no longer make a claim on insurance because he had signed-off the whole claim as complete. It is not unusual to take the payment for physical damage fairly quickly but be careful about signing-off for personal injury, either for, say, six months or when you are sure there is no personal injury to yourself.

Part 6. LEGAL PROTECTION

Many insurance policies have, Legal Protection (LP), which means the insurance covers legal expenses if the policy holder is injured and for uninsured losses, etc. For detailed information given by one company Direct Line, Legal Protection
Advice; think carefully before using the Legal Protection (LP). A decision needs to be made: if you cannot afford the legal expenses and medical costs of making a claim then use LP; if you can afford it then consult your own solicitor first for advice and probable costs, and decide which method to use to make a claim.
Some true figures. A classic car owner was in an accident where a vehicle veered from the third lane of a motorway and collided with a classic vehicle that was in the inside lane causing considerable damage and the driver suffered a badly strained wrist.
A claim was made using LP, the driver got £5,000 and the solicitors got £20,000. These figures make me think that some of the latter figure could have gone to the injured, not the solicitors.

Part 7. CHANGED VEHICLE SPECIFICATION

If any material\major changes are made to the manufacturer's specification the insurance company must be informed before the vehicle goes out on the road.
What is, 'material\major'? Let's look at what would certainly be considered material: the Champ has a speed-limiter (governor) on the rotor arm - every rotor arm is marked with an rpm (revolutions per minute) number, there can be one of two known numbers, 1875 rpm or 2000 rpm. These speeds are half engine rpm, so 1875 gives an engine speed of 3,750, which equates to a road speed of 62\64 miles per hour, 4,000 rpm is 66\68 mph.
Correct rotor arm?, The 1962 Illustrated Spare Parts List shows the 1875 rpm rotor and does not mention the 2000 rpm rotor. I would suggest the insurance company is informed if a 2000 rpm rotor is used. One Champ owner just ordered a 'rotor arm' and didn't know about the two rpm ratings, he was sent a 2000 rpm one.
A worse case than this, I was at a Champ Camp and an owner came to me and said that a so-called expert (the expert's name does not appear in this website) had said to disable the rotor arm speed limiter, which can be done. Does anyone want to do over 62\64 mph in a Champ? If an accident occurred at high speed and the limiter was found disabled the insurance company could reduce the insurance cover to Third Party Only and, in that case, the owner would receive nothing for their Champ. Don't do it!
Carrying Petrol on a Champ. The 5 gallon Jerry can on the back of the Champ is for water (with antifreeze), not petrol, yet some Champ owners are carrying petrol in the Jerry can. Imagine what would happen if a vehicle hit the Champ in the back, the chances are the can would burst and the petrol could catch fire. Would any passengers in the back be able to get out before being burnt?, I doubt it. Also, although your feelings about the driver who ran into you may not be charitable, his vehicle could also be set on fire.
The picture below shows a Champ that has 4 Jerry cans in the back.

4 Jerry cans in an Austin Champ


I doubt the owner would carry 20 gallons of petrol, if he did the Champ is not a Champ but a time bomb for anyone around an accident, including, police, ambulance people and fire fighters.
Every accident is unique but if, in an accident, a Jerry can with petrol in it exploded and claims for vehicles and injuries were made the insurance might downgrade the insurance to Third Party Only.
Can petrol be carried on a Champ?, why and where? Why?, drivers do run out of petrol and I came across an ex-military vehicle that had run out of petrol and so I was able to help them. Where?, there are two possibilities: one, in a strong storage box behind the rear seats so the spare wheel, Jerry can, rear body and the box would provide some protection to the petrol can; in a Cargo (pre FFW) Champ there is a storage compartment under the driver's seat and if a 2 gallon can (maximum) is to be carried I would think this is the safest place - the petrol container itself must be in a purpose-made approved container and, preferably, in a strong lockable box.

Tyres: the Champ originally had 6.50 x 16 crossply tyres and later in production had 7.50 x 16 crossply tyres - there would be no concern over changing the smaller size wheels and tyres to the later larger wheels and tyres.

Many Champs today are run on radial tyres, which have very different handling characteristics to crossply tyres. Is this a material change to the vehicle's specification? My broker says that notification to them is not required but you may wish to check with your broker.
There could be a technical discussion on the different handling characteristics of crossplies and radial tyres. My Champ is on crossplies and I will keep it that way, if I had radials I would be much more careful about accidently entering a corner too fast because radials have more grip than crossplies and it might be argued that a Champ on crossplies would go into a tail-slide whereas on radials the Champ is more likely to tip-over. Having said that, I have never heard of a problem, or an accident, because a Champ was on radials.

In general each accident is different. If the police have reason to believe that the failure of a mechanical part, or a material alteration to the vehicle, may have been a factor in the accident the police have the right to have the vehicle stripped and examined. Back to the rotor arm, if a Champ was in a high speed accident, and the rotor arm was found to have been disabled, I would not like to be that owner - if you have ever been questioned by a barrister in court you will know why, barristers twist everything to the maximum to create doubt in a Jury's mind.