A Saskatoon man is rallying support to reverse a change to the definition of what makes a car "antique" in Saskatchewan.

On Jan. 1, Saskatchewan Government Insurance introduced a new rule that states a car is not an antique unless it was made in 1987 or earlier.

Previously, SGI recognized any vehicle that was 30 years old or older as an antique.

Antiques have lower premiums

Vehicles made after 1987 will not be eligible for cheaper insurance premiums, which cost a standard $85 plus PST annually, under the Antique Use category. Physical damage coverage is limited to $800 but full liability and injury benefits are provided. 

Saskatoon resident Steve Bondy has started an online petition to reverse the 1987 cut-off.

"Vehicles are only getting older, and there is going to be more of them throughout the years," he said. "And so what may not be what people consider vintage right now — an '87 — 20 years from now it's going to be like we're talking about a '57."

Vernon's Toy Box

SGI says it is not making enough money from lower-cost Antique Use registrations to cover the cost of claims.

Program being exploited

SGI said the change is to address an imbalance after a 55 per cent increase in the number of vehicles registered as being antiques in Saskatchewan in the past five years.

The number of antique-registered vehicles involved in claims has grown by 31 per cent since 2011.

"The intent of the Antique Use class, when originally created, was to accommodate vintage vehicles that were used infrequently — for parades, special occasions or Sunday drives," said SGI Auto Fund executive vice-president Penny McCune in a news release.

"But we're seeing more and more antique-registered vehicles driven as regular-use vehicles; daily in many cases. Because they're insured at such a low cost, this does not adequately provide for the injury and liability claim payouts in the event of a collision."

SGI said it decided the change was the fairest way to address the problem after consulting with car clubs and antique vehicle enthusiasts.

It said there are other registration options for people with true vintage vehicles that are only used on special occasions, such as short-term registrations, 24-hour or eight-day permits.  

"We acknowledge that not everybody's going to be happy with it but we also didn't want to be faced with the reality that we had to raise rates for 17,000 plus people," said Tyler McMurchy, manager of media relations at SGI. "I think you'd have quite a few signatures on a petition protesting that move as well."

There is a better way: Bondy 

Bondy agreed the program needs to be changed to stop it from being exploited, but he believes there is a better way.

He thinks SGI should reverse the 1987 cut-off but restrict Antique Use licence plates to six months of the year during the driving season.

"That would deter a lot of people who want to use these vehicles for all-year use for cheap plates," said Bondy.

His petition had about 830 signatures by Monday evening.

With files from CBC Radio's Afternoon Edition