• October 21 2015 is the date on which Back to the Future II was set
  • The movie features an iconic DeLorean DMC-12 as a time machine
  • The car boasts many modifications that would make it difficult to insure

In the movie Back to the Future Part II Biff Tannen steals the DeLorean time machine on October 21 2015 and heads back to 1955. As we've now reached that year and getting ever closer to that day, all eyes are on how prophetic Back to the Future II was in its depiction of the future.

Where are our hover boards and self-tying sneaker laces? And are we really still using faxes? However, as a car insurer, LV= has a particular interest in Doc Brown's DeLorean DMC-12 and wonders whether any insurer could or would possibly cover it.

There are many specialist companies that offer cover for classic cars, and on the face of it, Doc Brown's gull-winged DMC-12 DeLorean meets the first criteria of being over 30 years old. Most classic car policies also agree the value of the car up front in case of a total loss, with a limit of say £40,000. The current market value of a good condition DeLorean can vary anything from £25k upwards, but the time warping facilities would arguably make it even more valuable.

The original models were scheduled to sell for $12,000, hence the model name DMC-12 but ultimately went on sale for $25,000. And how do you put a value on a time machine? There's no real precedent. Incidentally, around 9,000 original DMC-12s were manufactured before production stopped in 1983.

DeLorean Facts

  • Approx 9,000 DeLorean DMC-12s were manufactured in 1981-1983
  • In 2007 it was estimated that there were still 6,500 working DMCs in existence – no census has been carried out since
  • 'DMC' stands for 'DeLorean Motor Company' and '12' for the original estimated retail price of $12,000 – though they actually went on sale for $25k
  • The car has a stainless steel body, meaning that it doesn't rust in the same way as regular car bodies, and hence one of the reasons why it's one of the few classic cars that currently holds its value (its rarity and 'cool' factor being other reasons)
  • Cost will vary dependent on condition but a quick look on a popular online auction site reveals that you're looking at £25,000 to £30,000 to pick one up.

Many insurers have a problem with non-factory modifications. The original factory options included a no-cost manual transmission or automatic transmission and the choice of a grey or black interior. The addition of a time travelling device would certainly be considered a non-factory modification, as would the booster rocket wheels giving the ability to fly.

We've all seen the DeLorean flying at the end of the first film, so does that make it an aircraft, and does it need to be insured as one? This brings in a whole load of potential problems around liability cover. Would Marty and the Doc expect to be covered if say they crashed their vehicle into a building or other aircraft? Would they expect Comprehensive cover to include mid-air collisions once the car hits 88mph and the flux capacitor cuts in? And in any event, 88mph far exceeds the legal speed limit in the UK.

Many classic policies exclude drivers under the age of 30. So, while Doc would be OK, Marty couldn't  drive the car. That is of course if the Doc had a good driving record. There's also another concern around a time-travelling car. It's understandably illegal to backdate insurance cover, so what would happen if Doc Brown took out the policy today and then travelled to last week? He wouldn't be covered by this new policy.

There's also the matter of annual mileage. Many classic policies limit this to a figure of say 5,000 miles per year. Fine if you're just driving around Hill Valley, but do you notch up miles if you travel through time? And would the Mr Fusion system under the bonnet mean that the DeLorean is classed as a dual fuel vehicle or a hybrid?

So, in summary, LV=, like most insurers would probably not be able to cover Doc Brown's DeLorean. The time travelling and the liability risks are just too great. It's difficult to classify and hence risk rate a unique vehicle without a proven insurance history. In any event, if Doc Brown had a 'fender bender' couldn't he just take the car back again to before the accident happened and move the car to safety?    

Read about our customer who bought a DeLorean as a potential investment opportunity.