Canada News: Taking Advantage of Collector Plates

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