- New movie Batman Vs Superman features the latest version of the Caped Crusader's Batmobile
- This fantasy car boasts many specifications and modifications that would make it problematic for insurers
- Collectors and fans have replicated or modified previous Batmobiles to make them street legal
At 20 feet long by 12 feet wide, the new Batmobile is probably not street legal, but as you'll find further on, a number of Batmobiles have been modified to let them prowl the streets legally. So let's say the Batmobile was allowed on the roads – what would be the considerations?
Does it need insurance? While Gotham City is a fictitious location, we're going to assume that if it were a real place in the US it would require its citizens to have a minimum level of insurance cover if they were driving its mean streets, even if just third party cover. Saying that, considering the amount of criminals on the street, we're going to guess that Jim Gordon and the Gotham police department are going to be more interested in capturing the Joker and his henchmen than roadside checks on insurance. BUT, let's assume that Batman wants to be a law-abiding citizen, so where does he go for his BatCover? After all, in 1967 Batman episode 'That Darn Catwoman' Chief O'Hara specifically asks Batman if he has insurance.
Assuming that the Justice League don't already have a special deal with a major insurer for its members, Batman would need to go to a specialist insurer who is prepared to take on the risk. So, what are the risks?
- Identifying the vehicle: For a company to insure a vehicle it typically needs to be classifiable so that associated risks with the make/model can be assessed. Different cars present different risks, but that makes it more difficult if you can't identify the vehicle. Is it a racing car, a tank, an armoured vehicle or a plane?
- Modifications: This is a tough one. Insurers have different views about non-factory modifications, so how would they assess the machine gun turret? Was it built at the same time as the rest of the vehicle – in fact, where was the whole car made? It's unlikely that Wayne Industries will want to share their blueprints.
- Occupation of driver and use: Again, factors used in assessing insurance include the occupation of the driver and the use to which the car is put. It would be a brave company that accepts 'vigilante crime fighter' as an acceptable occupation, and the business use of 'catching criminals by night' is again a far stretch from any reasonable form of business use. Batman is also unlikely to reveal his date of birth and address (questions asked on the application) as these details would help reveal his secret identity and the location of his secret lair.
- Third party liability – A minimum requirement for insurance cover is third party liability, to pick up the cost of damage to property and people by the driver. But would a company want to cover the cost of likely destruction? While we haven't seen how much chaos Batman causes in the new film, his prior record does reveal exploding streets, buildings, multiple injuries and more. Is Batman going to stop to exchange details following an incident, and will he stick to the speed limit? He doesn't feel like a good risk.
- Where is it kept? The Batcave would probably be accepted as a secure place for off-road parking. While not exactly a garage, Batman's secret hideaway should be a safe place to store the vehicle when not in use.
- Could Batman self-insure? Bruce Wayne is a playboy multi-millionaire. He could arguably afford to pay for any damage and compensation relating to his activity. One option might be to set up a regulated insurance company to cover the costs of potential liability, and that way his Batmobile could legitimately be on the roads of Gotham. If money is no object, the benefit of a no claim discount is probably irrelevant.
So, in conclusion, the real-life Batmobile feels uninsurable. Its build and the use to which it is put make it a high risk that no insurer would willingly want to take on. Car insurance is surely a legal requirement for drivers in Gotham City, so let's assume Batman has got this covered, and the fact that we don't know how and where… it's all part of the Dark Knight's mystery. Sadly, LV= doesn't insure any Batmobiles, but we do insure people in Gotham (Nottinghamshire), if that counts?
Batmobile street legal facts
Not all Batmobiles are unsuitable for the road, as our Batfacts reveal:
- In the original Batman film serials of the 1940s, Batman drove a regular black Cadillac, limousine and 1949 Mercury.
- The 1966 Batmobile from the Batman TV series was converted by George Barris from a non-functioning 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura concept car into a roadworthy Batmobile. The car was filmed in around Central Los Angeles and Barris was famously once ticketed for speeding in it. In January 2013, it sold at auction for $4.2 million plus fees.
- The Batmobile from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and Batman Returns was designed by Anton Furst and built on a Chevrolet Impala chassis.
- One of the Batmobiles used in the films was bought by comedian Jeff Dunham, who has a street legal version, including a license plate that drops down when the car starts.
- Race car driver Casey Putsch built a street legal version on the Tim Burton Batmobile using a turbine engine
- Batman fanatic Zac Mihajlovic, not only hand-built his very own street legal version of the car from the 1989 film, he is a real superhero by teaming up with the Make-A-Wish foundation to make terminally ill children's wishes come true.
- The Tumbler in the Dark Knight trilogy was created by production designer Nathan Crowley and director Christopher Nolan by mashing up model kits of a Lamborghini and a Humvee. A Street legal replica (complete with CD player!) was offered for sale at £1m in 2014.