If you own a classic car, it’s most likely a prized possession. Whether you have a 1969 Boss Mustang, a 1963 Corvette Stingray, or even a 1970 Chevy Nova, you probably dote on it. Why else would you bother owning a classic car unless it was one of your passions?
If you’ve spent a lot of time fixing up a classic car, or spent a bundle on a ride in mint condition, you want to make sure it’s properly insured. Can you get regular old auto insurance or is there a special kind of insurance designed for your special car? Let’s find out.
What makes a car “classic?”
A classic car is an automobile that is at least 10 years old and has special historical interest because of fine workmanship or a limited production. If your car is 25 years or older, it’s considered an antique.
To qualify for classic car insurance, you must use your antique or classic car on a very limited basis, such as exhibitions, club activities, and parades. Also, you must have restored, maintained, or preserved your car.
Larry Edsall, the ClassicCars.com editor, says that the age and use of classic or collector cars can vary by insurance company. “If you want special collector insurance, you will have to show that the car being insured is not your daily driver, and how much or how far you drive it in a year will likely be restricted.”
Do you need special insurance?
Edsall says that many auto insurance companies will sell you insurance on your classic or collector car. “However, it’s very much a case of buyer beware. Some companies specialize in collector car insurance and, thus, are used to dealing with the unusual cases and circumstances that come along with a collector or classic car.”
He explains that some of those companies even offer special roadside assistance — for example, automatic flatbed towing — if your car breaks down. “And that same help can be used for other cars you own, even if they’re not classics. But you need to be sure of all the details with your agent,” Edsall advises.
Agree upon the car’s value
Edsall says a big issue when purchasing regular car insurance for a classic car is the agreed-upon value. “You may think your car is priceless, but, if it is destroyed or stolen, you need to set a value ahead of time with your insurance company.
There have been too many cases in which a classic car that is covered only by typical car insurance is stolen and the car owner gets a check for the value of a typical used car, which can be much, much less than the car’s true value.”
Michael Dinich, a retirement and tax advisor at Your Money Matters and a self-professed “huge car nut,” owns a 1954 international pickup. He was considering classic car coverage from an insurer, then called the company that insures his newer vehicles and was surprised to find the company would also cover his truck.
“We discussed the replacement value, customizations, etc., and they included the car for slightly less than the specialty insurer. A significant difference was that there were no restrictions on the policy; some of the specialty insurers limit your use of the vehicle.”
Questions to ask
Dinich didn’t like the idea of his insurance prohibiting the use of his car. “Here in the Northeast, we can have winter days that are sunny and 60 plus degrees. When we have a beautiful day, it helps to be able to take the truck out for a drive. I didn’t like the idea that I could only drive my truck during summer months with the specialty coverage.”
He recommends asking these five questions if you’re shopping for coverage:
Can I use the vehicle year round?
Are there any mileage limits?
Will you cover the full value of my modifications and customizations?
How do you determine the value of my vehicle?
What are the exclusions of the policy?
If you decide that you only want to drive your classic car on a limited basis, you may be able to get a lower insurance premium.
Factors to consider before seeking insurance
Decide how the car will be used
Maybe you’re going to keep it in the garage under a tarp and parade it once a year. Or maybe you want to drive it year round. Decide how and when you want to use the car before talking to an insurance provider.
Research the car’s value
To get a basic idea of the car’s worth, you can search the average retail cost. Because classic cars are unique, however, you’ll want to do a bit more research to settle on a price. Check auto auctions and price guides, and ask experts. You need to have a solid number when you talk to your insurer about the car’s agreed upon value.
Be aware of the mileage
As with any used car, the more miles, the less the car is worth. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy a classic car with a lot of miles; just understand that it affects the car’s worth. Factor this into the value.
If you haven’t bought your classic car yet, do your research on how to finance the car of your dreams.
Then, check out Supermoney’s auto insurance comparison page to read reviews and compare rates for a variety of companies. Many of these companies also offer specialty insurance for classic cars, including State Farm, Geico, Allstate and more.