By on October 20, 2008

I’m willing to wager that a fair percentage of TTAC’s Best and Brightest take their cherished whip to the race track every now and then to drive the car as God and his engineers intended. If so, be warned: your car insurance may no be on the hook should something untoward– or straight toward– occurs.  The New York Times reports that insurers have closed the loophole that defined certain types of racing as a “timed event.” The fix is in; you’re liable. For some weekend warriors, it’s a bridge too far: “Chris Soignier of Austin, Tex., will not be taking his Porsche Cayman to the track, which he had done with his previous cars. When he read his renewal notice from Progressive Insurance last November, he found that the Cayman was not covered on the track. I don’t feel like I’m that much at risk, but the magnitude of the loss is too great for me to be comfortable,’ he said. For other motorized Walter Mittys, ignorance is a bliss balloon destined to pop. “Jerry Kunzman, executive director of the National Auto Sport Association, said: ‘Maybe 25 or 30 percent have done the research, the middle third just assumes they are covered, and the top third just don’t have a clue.'” Maybe the tracks should educate their customers on this issue. Just sayin’.

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25 Comments on “Insurance Companies Close Track Day and Training Loopholes...”


  • avatar
    vento97

    The Empire Strikes Back…:(

  • avatar
    Morea

    There are third party insurance companies that are willing to write specific, modestly-priced policies that cover you ONLY when you are on the track. Problem solved. Now off to the track where I can speed legally (he said oxymoronically.)

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    The headline could have read “Trial Lawyer costs force Insurance Companies to Close Track Day Loophole.”

    Of course, your source is The Times…

  • avatar
    jaje

    I’ve met Jerry and Ali the 2 main founders of NASA and they know what is needed to make sure their students are safe. On a side note – what is becoming much more prevalent is DE insurance which usually costs $70-$80 per event for up to $10k in damage with a $1k deductible. I was at HPT last weekend instructing and one student wound up hitting a wall requiring flatbed of his car and looks like several thousands in damage. He bought up to $18k in insurance before the event (actually the day before).

  • avatar

    And I have Progressive too. Oh well, they’re still the best price and they cover very well when shit happens so I won’t be leaving them any time if at all.

    I wonder if this includes SCCA training events also, since usually those are held in large parking lots or something other than an official track?

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    jaje:
    He bought up to $18k in insurance before the event (actually the day before).

    That’s actually a sound idea and a good compromise.
    I hope ‘track day’ events don’t go the way of the public swimming pool diving board.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    There’s a very obvious reason that insurance companies won’t cover track days-you are way more likely to wreck during one than on your morning commute. If they were forced to cover such, everybody’s rates on any car anybody would remotely considered trackable would probably double (insurance is based on chances of a payout plus overhead plus an amount set aside for profit-if payouts go up a lot, so do the rates). Since not everybody races their cars, it makes sense not to cover it to keep rates down. If you do race, buying extra insurance for such is always an option.

  • avatar
    Morea

    If you do race, buying extra insurance for such is always an option.

    But you miss the point completely! It is not a ‘race’ but high-performance driver’s education (where timing and contests of speed are strictly disallowed)that the insurers will not cover. Racing has never been covered. All of the people I know who attend these driver education events are excellent drivers on the street and are very safe indeed (they keep their need for speed on the track where it belongs). I bet, overall, those who regularly attend these events have LOWER claims than the average driver (including on-track mishaps). It is your soccer moms late-for-the-game calling-ahead-to-say-we’re-going-to-be-late, and your ‘tuners’ with their midnite racing that are the ones who drive up insurance rates.

    Not long someone will be willing to write a policy to cover street and drivers education, then many track junkies will switch to that company.

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    Im not worried about Autocross. there isnt anything to hit expect for parking cones.

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    Just a little insider tip: Liberty Mutual mutual auto policy holders will soon find their policy contract language changed to Safeco’s, which does have a coll exclusion for all forms of racing (including “driver’s education” classes). [Libery Mutual acquired Safeco and is dumping their auto & home to that side of the house; LM is to concentrate on commercial & worker’s comp lines.]

    So, if you have LM, make sure to read that next renewal…

  • avatar
    Samir

    Best reason to track/auto-x a low-cost beater such as an older Miata or a CRX.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “Of course, your source is The Times…”

    The idea that anything published in the NYT is ipso facto not credible is simple minded.

    I don’t think lawsuits are the issue here. Auto insurance is written based on the company’s best estimate of how risky the driver’s behavior and circumstances are. The more likely it is that a claim will be filed, the higher the rate. Hitting the track probably has a much higher damage rate per mile than does normal driving.

    But hey, if the NYT published the story it must just be a bunch of anti-market commie crap, right? Oh wait, let the markets decide. Let insurance companies do what they want. Ack, cognitive dissonance!

    Special insurance purchase for when you are at the track makes plenty of sense. The question of non-track events like autocross is a good one. Don’t assume you are covered for anything outside normal driving unless you have a letter from your insurance company saying so. Another consideration is business use of your car. Many policies exclude business use from the coverage. Being paid to deliver pizzas using your own car? Might not be covered. Driving to a meeting and being reimbursed by your employer for the miles? Might not be covered. Best to check.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    Insurance is a pool, and less payouts mean lower rates for all of a company’s customers. I’m sure any company is just looking at track racing as a liability and as said, what the lawyers will say about it. After once working with corporate lawyers, what makes them nervous makes the entire company nervous. It’s in all of our interest to do so. It is good of course to see a companies stepping in to offer that additional insurance for where a standard policy will not go. I’m sure the risk isn’t that high, however it is additional risk to some degree.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    John Horner:
    The idea that anything published in the NYT is ipso facto not credible is simple minded.

    My (subtle and missed) point (by suggesting another headline) was NOT that the NYT isn’t credible. My point was how the story was spun – blaming insurance companies instead of a major underlying cost (that happens to be a major Democratic interest group).

    I enjoy the NYT, even the Sunday Style section. And I’m a gun owning, GOP leaning NYer. However, their bias is clear, both in the stories they cover and ignore.

    Special insurance purchase for when you are at the track makes plenty of sense.

    I agree. However, I’d be wary of kill-joy types who’d mandate so much safety and liablity coverage as to make all track days uneconomical.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    I saw this one coming a few years ago. Have any of you track day guys noticed a recent escalation in the horsepower at these events? Five years ago, the majority of folks were running tuned Hondas, let’s say in the 120-220hp range. At my last Grattan event, there were very few cars running less than 300hp.

    Some had experience. Most did not. One particularly memorable driver was running a new C6 very badly. Imagine someone with lack of driving technique that wants to run his car hard like he would in Gran Turismo. This can’t be good, I thought to myself.

    Sure enough, the insurance companies are catching on. Someone mentioned the obvious solution a few posts earlier – buy a beater Miata or CRX and don’t worry about dinging it on a track day. You can gut it and put a roll cage in also if you want extra safety.

  • avatar

    most events at my local track can no longer get liability insurance (I think?) that covers people in convertibles. so there go all those miata track days. someone please go back in time to 1990 and convince mazda to make a low-volume coupe version.

  • avatar

    Here’s what we do

    when a car craps out during an event (something blows up), we get it towed to the road, then we tell the insurer or warranty people that the vehicle crapped out on the road.

    NOBODY assumes they’re covered with regards to flipping/wrecking – you’d be an idiot to think otherwise. That’s what track insurance is for.

  • avatar
    cnenf

    Aren’t they implying that they will insure you if you participate in illegal street racing (how would they know you were racing vs drivnig like an idiot?) but not if you racing in the relative safety of a sanctioned event.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “My point was how the story was spun – blaming insurance companies instead of a major underlying cost ”

    Hmmm, I just reread the NYT piece and I don’t see how they were blaming insurance companies at all, and your original point about trial lawyers doesn’t seem to enter into it at all.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    Sammy Hagar :
    October 20th, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Just a little insider tip: Liberty Mutual mutual auto policy holders will soon find their policy contract language changed to Safeco’s, which does have a coll exclusion for all forms of racing (including “driver’s education” classes). [Libery Mutual acquired Safeco and is dumping their auto & home to that side of the house; LM is to concentrate on commercial & worker’s comp lines.]

    So, if you have LM, make sure to read that next renewal…

    I’m an LM policy holder. Thanks for the heads up!

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    As a driver of a street/track car, I do not see an issue with this. It seems fair that other drivers not have to pay for the extra risk I am incurring. Of course I don’t feel that others should ever incur extra expenses due to my actions nor should I for theirs.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    This is nothing new, and in my opinion, much more preferable to what GEICO used to do, which was summarily cancel a driver’s policy on the suspicion of using their car at the track—whether they file a claim for any crash or not.

  • avatar
    Morea

    that others should ever incur extra expenses due to my actions nor should I for theirs

    The problem is that auto insurance as practiced is a mutual system. If your neighbors have lots o’ wrecks YOUR rates go up. That is why driver’s education at all levels (from teens to seniors) is critical. However, this concept is under funded because no one wants to step up and take responsibility (insurance companies, schools, state and local governments, non profits) in turn because no one wants to foot the bill. Why don’t insurance companies offer advanced driver’s ed classes? “Pass our class and truly demonstrate you are a competent driver and we’ll lower your rates.”

    I’d still like to see the claims numbers for those who track their sports car vs. those who do not. Who has the higher claims rate?

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    You missed the picture info from
    http://www.wreckedexotics.com/355/355_20060530_001.shtml

    “Crashed into a crowd of people during a race in San Carlos, Venezuela. Sadly, 3 people were killed. The driver received some broken bones but made a full recovery.”


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