Canada News: Taking Advantage of Collector Plates

November 17, 2011

In British Columbia getting a “Collector Plate” for your vehicle means cheaper insurance.  But many are taking advantage of the law and the Specialty Vehicle Association of BC believes this puts the entire program in jeopardy.  SVABC President and the Historic Vehicle Association’s Canada correspondent, Nigel Matthews, explains.

British Columbia has always been Canada’s leader when it comes to vintage and collector motor vehicles.  The climate has always been forgiving and generally “collector friendly.”  Take, for example, the move by the Provincial Government Motor Vehicle Branch that introduced a special vintage license plate over 50 years ago to cater to these special vehicles.  At the time, the so-called “vintage plate” catered to vehicles that were 30 years old or older—Model T and A Fords, for example.

But this “vintage plate” came with very restrictive usage laws that only allowed car owners to drive to car shows, in parades, or to and from the mechanic.  Such limited use restrictions were seen by many as potentially harmful to the future of historic vehicles in BC.  After all, how many would want to own such a vehicle if most of the time it just took up space in their garage?  

So a dedicated group of vehicle collectors led by the Specialty Vehicle Association of BC and members of the Vintage Car Club of Canada stepped in and convinced the government to also introduce a new, special “collector plate” that was slightly more liberal when it came to driving historic vehicles for pleasure.  Keeping historic vehicles on the road meant keeping them out of scrapyards so, naturally, this was seen as a positive step.    

The age criterion for a vehicle allowed to obtain this collector plate was set at a minimum 25 years of age.  The vehicle had to be in exceedingly good original condition and be considered of collectible value.  Another benefit of obtaining the plate was decreased insurance premiums.

Collector Plate, Insurance Break

British Columbia has a mandatory minimum $200,000 third-party liability insurance coverage obligation for every licensed driver and vehicle in the province; the average cost of such coverage is approximately $750 per year.

But if you have a collector vehicle and the coveted special collector license plates, the third-party coverage premium is drastically reduced to approximately $100 per year.  Here lies the new problem:

Over the years the collector plate program has grown so much that the stakeholders throughout the province are very concerned that the large number of modern mass-produced vehicles, and import motorcycles that have survived the past 25 years are getting the special plate—and the special insurance rate—purely by the age criteria.

New Classic Owners Taking Advantage?

The Specialty Vehicle Association of BC held an executive meeting on October 30th to discuss this alarming issue. The outcome was a unanimous vote for the President of the SVABC to arrange a meeting with the senior vice-president of ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) as soon as possible to voice concern as to where this is likely headed and to offer input on how to keep one of the best collector vehicle programs in North America alive and well.

The SVABC believes that these “newer classics” are eroding the current collector plate program.  The group believes that a large number of 80s era vehicle and motorcycle owners are simply applying for the special plate for nothing more than obtaining cheap liability insurance on cars they are using as daily drivers.         

The SVABC believes that this will ultimately lead to an increased number of insurance claims filed by drivers who are clearly abusing the original intent and spirit of the law.  The SVABC believes this could result in the provincial government abolishing the program entirely, which is why the association is pushing for an overhaul of the application process—one that includes a physical inspection that the SVABC contends should now be required for all applicant vehicles. The SVABC has a plan to show how the ICBC can accomplish these inspections with minimal cost to agency or the government.

To find out how you can help, check out the Specialty Vehicle Association of BC website at      




    Make it available for cars 40 years old or older. Anything newer is just a old used car. Problem solved!


    Make it available for cars 40 years old or older. Anything newer ia just a old used car. Problem solved!

  3. david waters coquitlam

    you asked whats wrong with this picture? its living proof that foreign cars break down. that snow is a wonderful insulator that it takes more than 6 months to get parts after they are ordered that this fellows garage is cheaper to heat than mine

  4. Geoff McGuire Canada

    Agree with forty years or older. Besides, there's nothing "classic/collectable" after the early 70's anyway.

  5. Roger Gillen Canada

    Why not have ICBC do a cost benefit analysis on payouts to classic/collectable cars and motorcycles. Hell, why don't they open the books and let us all see the demographics and set the rates accordingly? Lets face it, ICBC is a cash cow for the gov't and they love it when we are in-fighting over what a 'collectable' really is.

  6. Jordan Vancouver, B.C.

    It's hard to get upset after reading this article. I have some choice words to say that would get me banned from this forum, but to say it politely, where do you get your balls to decide which vehicle is vintage and which one isn't? Why not put a price tag on it too. Anything that is no longer in production should be considered collector status. It's doesn't matter if it was mass produced. The model T was mass produced. That's like saying that the modern art of Warhol or Kandinsky is of lesser importance that a a Rembrandt. Neither is less important, they're just from different periods. Your posturing is of no consequence to anyone at ICBC. So stop your crying, and spend more time enjoying your ride, and don't be dopey elitist.

  7. Omar Richmond BC

    Jordan, I also feel the same way as you.I have a 1999 old car and it's almost in pristine condition, if it continue like that I would love to keep it for as long as I can and if that applies to get a collector plate and a cheaper insurance, so be it! For those idiots that don't like it, cry me a river.If you think that a collector car has to be 40 years older or more, you are just an uneducated moron!!

  8. Dennis Victoria BC

    There were some real pieces of crap 40 years ago or more too. And there were cars made in the last 25 that are very collectable. I have collectors plates on my bike, for the cheap insurance, it's an 83, And was a limited production that only 815 were made but If I had a 25 year old XS400 I'd try and get collector plates for that too. Who gets to decide what's collectable and what isn't? I collect vintage guitars and one thing I do know is for something to be collectable someone else has to want it. And any car made , ever, kept in pristine condition should be as collectable as anything else. I think Hyundai Ponies should be the most collectable car in history because if you find one still running anywhere it's probably the only one. Getting back to the 40 year thing, I am 66 have been a licensed employed mechanic for 44 of those years, most of those nostalgic 50's and 60's cars were garbage after about 80,000 miles, People were so stupid they'd pay extra for a big family sedan with a hemi in it because it was tagged a "roadrunner" It was a freakin Belvedere with a performance engine! I've worked on too many of those old cars to remember and can't even remember all of the ones I owned. They should be no more collectable than the newer stuff.