Insuring Your Classic Car

A classic, collectible or antique car is no ordinary car—and regular auto insurance is not sufficient to protect such a vehicle against damage or loss. Unlike everyday vehicles, which depreciate over time as you add miles to them, classic cars may, in fact, gain value over the years. Your insurance needs to match your special vehicle’s value—and you’ll need to adjust your coverage if its value appreciates.

What is a Classic/Collector Vehicle?

A classic/collector car is defined as a private passenger motor vehicle that’s at least 20 years old, is scrupulously maintained, is in excellent physical condition, is used primarily for exhibitions and club activities, and is driven no more than 2,500 miles each year.

What is an Antique Vehicle?

An antique vehicle is a private passenger motor vehicle manufactured before 1950, scrupulously maintained and in excellent physical condition, whose antiquity and unique physical condition contribute greatly to its value, is used primarily for exhibitions and club activities, and is driven no more than 1,000 miles each year.

What Types of Vehicles Need Special Insurance?

In addition to the classic/collector and antique vehicles mentioned above, other vehicles that warrant classic car auto insurance include:

  • Hotrods and modified vehicles.
  • Exotic and luxury autos—think James Bond.
  • Muscle cars.
  • Classic trucks.

You might also seek specialized insurance for vintage military vehicles, classic motorcycles and antique tractors.

Qualifying for Classic Car Coverage

Simply owning an old car is not enough to qualify for specialized classic car insurance. While requirements differ from company to company, most cars would need to meet the following criteria in order to qualify for specialized coverage:

  • Limited Use—Your classic car cannot be used for everyday commuting or errands, and the conditions of your policy may include mileage limitations and proof the car is being properly garaged if you do travel with it. In some cases, insurers may require that you also own a primary car for everyday use.
  • Car Shows and Meetings—The ‘limited use’ provision of a classic car policy allows for travel to car shows and auto club meet-ups; however this coverage may be restricted by some insurers. If this is the case, there are insurers that can provide specialized coverage for car shows and meetings. Before choosing a classic car insurer, it’s worth checking whether they have travel restrictions if you plan to take your car on regular, multi-day, high mileage drives.
  • Secure Storage—When not in use, your special vehicle must be stored in a locked, enclosed, private structure, such as a residential garage or storage unit.
  • A Clean Driving Record—You may be disqualified from classic auto insurance if you have serious offenses on your driving record, such as reckless driving, repeat speeding violations or driving while intoxicated.

Note too that not every vehicle, however special, will meet the qualifications of every insurer. For instance, some insurers may not cover vintage off-road vehicles. Insurers may also decline to insure vehicles that are in poor condition or have been previously damaged.

How Do You Determine the Value?

The best way to determine your car’s value is to have it appraised by a professional accredited appraiser of classic/antique vehicles. Using their knowledge and resources, a professional appraiser will provide a detailed description of the vehicle and its condition at the time of the appraisal, typically for a fee.

How Should I Insure It?

Once you’ve determined the value, it’s time to look for an insurance carrier to keep it protected. Not all insurance companies insure classic or antique vehicles, so it makes sense to find a company that provides the right coverage. The value will be specified in your policy and your car will be covered up to that value without depreciation.

Most classic car policies will take into account the importance of using a specialized repair or restoration shop. Make sure your policy gives you the flexibility to bring your vintage Mercedes, Ferrari or Corvette to a specialist—even if the rates may be twice, or three times, what a traditional auto body repair shop would charge.

Moreover, classic car policies generally offer coverage for towing and spare parts coverage to replace valuable vehicle components, such as wheels, transmissions, and engine parts.

In addition, your classic car policy will include provisions found in standard auto insurance policies, notably property damage and bodily injury liability coverage.

Three Reasons to Insure It Year Round

Some of our clients only want to insure their collector vehicle during the summer, yet most insurance companies require full coverage year round. Here are three advantages to insuring it for the entire year:

  • The premium for a classic/antique vehicle is already reduced because it’s driven 2,500 miles or less a year.
  • Keeping year-round coverage eliminates the need to add and remove coverage while the vehicle is in storage.
  • You can drive your vehicle anytime throughout the year without worrying about having coverage.

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