If you own a classic car, it’s probably a prized possession. Whether you have a 1969 Boss Mustang, a 1963 Corvette Stingray, or a 1970 Chevy Nova, your classic car is your pride and joy. If anything happened to it, your heart would break. But there’s good news. When disaster strikes, you can be ready: you can secure your car’s safety with classic car insurance.
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 limited basis, rather than as your primary form of transport. You can take your classic car to exhibitions, club activities, and parades — but you should pass on any cross-country road trips. Also, you must have restored, maintained, or preserved your car.
Larry Edsall, editor of ClassicCars.com, 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,” says Edsall. The insurance company will also restrict how many miles you can drive your classic car over the course of a year.
Benefits of classic car insurance
Many auto insurance companies will sell you standard auto insurance on your classic or collector car. But these insurance policies are often not equipped to handle the special circumstances that come with classic car ownership. Classic cars face different hurdles than standard vehicles. Their parts are more costly to replace, and they cover fewer miles than the average commuter car.
Companies that offer specialized collector car insurance better understand the unique challenges of collector car ownership. Some even offer special roadside assistance, like automatic flatbed towing, if your car breaks down.
Better appraisal of your car’s value
The first hurdle you’ll face when purchasing standard auto insurance for a classic car is logistical: you and your insurer must determine its agreed-upon value.
This is more complicated than it sounds. Usually, insurers determine a car’s value using its original cost, age, and mileage. But many classic cars appreciate in value over time, rather than losing value like a standard vehicle.
In many cases, when a classic car covered by standard insurance is stolen, the owner is reimbursed for the value of a typical used car. In other words, the insurer pays much, much less than the car’s true value.
For this reason, it is to your benefit to seek out insurance companies with policies specifically tailored for classic cars. These companies will have the expertise and experience required to appraise your vehicle accurately, and can get you the coverage you deserve.
Benefits of standard car insurance
If you don’t want to seek out a specialized policy, you’ll need to confirm that the insurer understands the value of your classic car. But if they do, you may find non-specialized insurance to be the better deal.
Michael Dinich, a retirement and tax advisor at Your Money Matters and a self-professed “car nut,” owns a 1954 international pickup. 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,” Dinich says. “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.”
After appraising specialized insurance options, Dinich reached out to the company that insures his newer vehicles. He 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.”
Before you commit to an insurance policy, you should consider the following.
How will you use your car?
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.
How much is your car worth?
To get a sense of your car’s worth, you can search the average retail cost. But because classic cars are unique, you’ll want to do more research to settle on a price. Check auto auctions and price guides, and ask experts. You need to have a number ready when you talk to your insurer about the car’s agreed upon value. And it’s smart to keep some of that data on-hand in case your insurer pushes back on your estimate.
What is your car’s mileage?
As with any used car, the more miles it’s driven, 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, and factor this into its value.
Questions to ask
When shopping around for classic car insurance, you should ask these questions to ensure that your policy gives you the coverage and the flexibility you desire:
- 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.
If you haven’t bought your classic car yet, do your research on how to finance the car of your dreams.
Need more help? You can check out SuperMoney’s auto insurance comparison page to get a broader look at rates and reviews for the top auto insurance companies on the market.