Why Insurers Didn’t Write Off Rowan Atkinson’s McLaren F1 after a £910k Repair Bill

Rowan Atkinson famously sold his rare McLaren F1 supercar in June this year for a reported £8 million, despite it having been in two major crashes, the second of which, in 2011, cost his insurers £910,000 to repair. The bill made history as the highest repair bill ever recorded in Britain.

As the car only cost the Mr. Bean star £640,000 when he bought it in 1997, why was his insurer prepared to spend far in excess of its purchase value to repair it? In ordinary circumstances most insurance companies would write the car off.

The answer lies in the fact that this was no ordinary car. McLaren produced just 64 F1 models for road use between 1992 and 1998, with just eight authorised service centres in the world. It was the fastest production car of its time and claimed by many to be the greatest supercar ever built.

Most cars depreciate in value from the moment they leave the showroom – the McLaren F1 is one of a handful of remarkable cars which are an exception to the rule. Its rarity, combined with its unique status as one of the world’s top supercars, means that its value has continued to soar.

So in spite of Atkinson’s unfortunate scrapes, 41,000 miles on the clock and the fact that the car is now 18 years old, his insurance company took a slightly different view when presented with a record-breaking claim.

They took eight months to consider the claim but eventually agreed that the car was valuable enough to justify the repairs, which took a year to complete at McLaren’s base in Woking, Surrey.

Given Atkinson’s enjoyment of driving the car regularly rather than locking it away in a garage, experts suggested that his insurance premium may have risen to around £60,000 per year following the accident. It’s also possible that his insurance excess may have risen to around half the car’s value and that his insurers may have added a restricted mileage clause to his policy. If true, might these factors have influenced the star’s reluctant decision to finally sell the iconic sports car?

“It was never bought as an investment,” he told a journalist before the sale. “I bought it for the quality of the thinking that went into its design, and now it has become a thing of value, it is time for it to be enjoyed by someone else.”

Despite interest from around the world, the car was reportedly sold to a British buyer, who plans to drive the car just like Rowan did – hopefully, for his insurer’s sake, with fewer accidents.

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