The problem with collector car insurance is that traditional car insurance policies not only typically cost more, but won't value your cherished, infrequently driven older car the way you do. It's a predicament every collector of classic cars faces.
You have several choices to insure a classic car:
- The state-mandated required liability coverage. This is likely not a good choice. If you have the money to shelter a classic car, chances are you're probably risking not only your car but your financial assets if you choose a bare-bones policy. And your car, if you wreck it, will be your own problem.
- A regular-use policy, the same as your other cars. The problem with this option is that any collision and comprehensive claims will value the car according to its depreciated, actual cash value. Your car, if you wreck it, is covered at its value the day before the accident. If the market for 1990 Alfa Romeos shows that they're worth $500, your insurer won't want to pay $3,000 to repair it.
- A stated-value policy. The owner decides the value of the car. Usually these policies include a provision that allows an insurer to pay out actual cash value instead, if that amount is less. With stated value, you're buying only as much coverage as you can afford, rather than covering the true worth of the car. That's useful if you own, say, a Ferrari 250 GTO worth $2 million but can only afford to insure it for $1 million.
- An agreed-value policy. Your insurer and you agree on the car's value ahead of time, and that's what you're paid if it's totaled. An agreed-value policy should allow you to put a price on restoration, major modifications or sentimental value that allows the possibility of repair.
There are many variations on the above, of course, and the good news is that specialized policies are typically cheap. Collector cars don't rack up a lot of miles. Because coverage is relatively inexpensive -- often only a couple of hundred dollars a year -- your decision should be based on how your claim will be handled if your car is totaled.
You'll usually need photographs of all sides of your car and its interior, and perhaps of where it's garaged. Some insurers may require an appraisal beforehand. The biggest players in the specialty market -- Hagerty, Leland West and Grundy -- don't. (All three offer online auto insurance quotes, as well.)
Qualifying for classic car coverage
Your favorite ride doesn't necessarily have to be vintage or valuable to be covered by classic car insurance. Some brand new vehicles -- and even older ones with values as low as $5,000 -- may qualify for classic car coverage under expanded criteria just issued by Progressive Advantage Classic Car Insurance, which operates in partnership with Hagerty.
"We suspect that as many as half of all casual classic car owners are using standard auto policies when they could get better coverage for less money if they bought classic car coverage for their secondary-use vehicles," Jay VanAntwerp, product manager for the Progressive Advantage program, said in a written statement.
If a car is primarily used for pleasure driving, locked in a garage when parked and kept in good working condition it may qualify for classic car coverage under the new Progressive Advantage terms. Insuring your car with an Advantage policy instead of a standard car insurance policy can save you up to 43 percent on your coverage, according to Hagerty's research.
5 tips for buying collector car insurance
- Get a quote from a specialty insurer as well as from a traditional full-line insurer. The premiums can be much lower, but typically you will need to maintain full coverage on your daily driver elsewhere.
- Look for a policy with agreed-value coverage. If you've put a ton of money into making a car like new again, agreed value is the only way you'll get your money back.
- Beware of conditions. Some policies might come with very low mileage limits, such as 2,000 miles a year. If you travel to car shows or away for long weekends, that might not be enough. And check to see if there are any limits on who can drive the car.
- Research how claims will be handled.Will you be able to use the body shop you want for repairs? Are your spare parts and custom paint job covered? Can your insurer offer stock original replacement parts when available, or have a specialist that can hunt down those that are rare and hard-to-find?
- Consider temporary insurance. Many carriers allow you to insure rarely driven cars on an as-needed basis. Alert them beforehand when you'll be driving it, and you'll pay only for those days.