By on May 14, 2014

James writes:

Are there any good insurance options for old, low-value non-collector cars? I’m going to have a pretty good handful of antique-plated vehicles in the next few years, and it seems silly to have regular insurance for stuff that might get driven once or twice a month, but “collector” car insurance is geared towards show-winner ’65 Mustangs and such.

Sajeev answers:

As much as I hate that picture and the publicity stunt behind it, the point is proven:  nobody treats an antique like a late-model machine. Long story short, not all insurance plans are only for guys with ’69 Camaros, ’65 Mustangs or even more valuable antique machinery. But you gotta do your homework.

I’ve discussed this before, and in the interest of not being a complete shill (again), I will just say that I left the big insurance company for that other group mentioned in the hyperlink.

The big insurance company did cover my under-appreciated 1988 Mercury Cougar XR-7, but I had to fight for it.  Somehow the conversation went to a 1988 Mustang GT, which did apply.  And that offended me more than I’d like to admit. It is truly amazing how wrapped up us classic car guys get in our stupid machines, but I digress…

My non Fox Mustang was deemed worthy after multiple head-butts with their underwriting department: pulling production numbers (far rarer than a ‘stang, especially the XR-7), photos, receipts (showing resto-modification) to show how they can indeed prove this is a bona-fide classic car. And they capitulated.

When it was time to insure TTAC’s Ford Sierra, I called the same big company and they were miffed.  Supposedly the Sierra couldn’t even be imported to America, much less insured!  After I told them how to do their job (i.e. Google), I found a specialty shop.

So I got an estimate from that classic car specific company (first hyperlink) on the Cougar and the Sierra. I found the process easier and a bit cheaper.  All they wanted were photos, explanation of the car’s modifications/value/usage and never mentioned how it isn’t a Fox Body Mustang. The lady on the phone also complimented me on both cars, especially the brown Sierra she’d never seen before. Which was the complete opposite of the “If This Was a Mustang, Sir!” insult I felt from the other place.

The only problem: I have yet to need the insurance policy. That’s when you actually know when you got good insurance.

So for you, dear reader, I suggest you look at all classic car insurers around, ask your friends in this hobby, and get a quote from ‘em all. Maybe one price is right, maybe one agent hits all the right buttons, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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36 Comments on “Piston Slap: A Tale of Collector Car Insurance...”


  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Not to shill for them, but I like Condon and Skelly for registered classic cars. You tell them the insured value (keep it real though), make, model, number of miles you drive per year, and what coverage you want. Send in photos and they give you a quote in a few days.
    I insure my 74 450SL for $10K with full liability, comphrehensive and collision for $95/yr restricted to 2K miles per year.
    They do require that the car be garaged.

  • avatar
    BigOlds

    I have no affiliation other than as a customer.

    Hagerty has been a joy to deal with, and they happily write agreed value policies. The nice thing about these is that you don’t have to argue over what it’s worth to someone else. It’s worth X to me and I am willing to pay the associated premium. Naturally there are limits- no insuring a 79 Pontiac Catalina for $1million, but they won’t balk at $10,000

    If you’re doing multiple cars and don’t need the towing coverage, I think you’ll find them quite reasonable. The key conditions are that it can’t be your primary/only mode of transport, and you need proper storage (I wonder though, if you only wanted collision and liability coverage if they would waive that)

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I also have them and they are fine for the most part. I did run into trouble when I wanted basic coverage for a car I bought that I just wanted coverage for until I sold it. They won’t cover a car parked outside in any location – even if off street. And they won’t cover a car that is actively for sale. The second isn’t a big deal, you just don’t tell them it’s for sale. So they basically told me to take a hike, even though I already had a policy on another car.
      Hopefully I never have to use them for repairs. Having been an adjuster in my past job I feel I could handle anything that comes up. But, for the price (I think I pay $170/year for $17k coverage) I’m pretty happy. I just wish they offered access to appraisers.

    • 0 avatar
      Omnifan

      -1 on Hagerty. I got an on-line quote from them and had several questions, so I called them. Although the on line site said minimum value had to be $3500, the gentleman on the phone said $5000 was the minimum value. When I asked him how they value the cars, he said it was in their on line tool which he then proceeded to look up. Of course, I already knew my car wasn’t in their database and he confirmed that after my question. He then proceeded to tell me that if the car wasn’t worth $5000, they wouldn’t be interested in insuring it. So I asked why the $3500 minimum value on the site. He just repeated the $5000 requirement. Lord only knows what would happen if I had a claim.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Old cars for me are a hobby. An expensive hobby for sure, but I’m not inclined to insure my hobby. To that end all I carry is the minimum liability. I realise I’m the only one who does this.

    • 0 avatar
      mfgreen40

      You are not the only one. For over 30 years I have had only minimum liability on all my cars, even new ones. My house also has very high deductible. This drives my agent crazy. ( less money in his pocket?)

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        I imagine there are far more of us in this boat than most realize .

        If it gets totaled that’s that ~ old cars are death traps anyways so I prolly won’t be here to fight any insurance claims .

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          67dodgeman

          indeed, there are many of us in that same boat. At one time I had three 20+ year old vehicles with naught but limited liability so I could drive them legally.

          The biggest problem isn’t the complete wipe-out, it’s the minor fender bender that has the car declared “totaled” due to the repair costs. I had a 89 Chevy truck, nice condition, straight body, good engine, that someone else ran into. Simple sheet metal damage, maybe $3k in repair costs. The other guy’s insurance company offered $1200 and wanted to take possession of the vehicle after they declared it totaled. I wanted to keep the vehicle, at which point their offer dropped to $700 based on salvage value. Meanwhile, Craigslist was full of equivalent trucks going for $4 to $5k all day long.

          My basic math here is that if the value is less than $10k, then liability only, as you’re not getting anything of value below that.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      You are not the only one, I’ve got multiple older cars that aren’t worth big bucks so what I carry is Broad form named driver. It provides liability for any car I drive. I still carry regular insurance on my modern drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      Baldpeak

      I think it makes sense. I view insurance as something you only need to cover things that could potentially cause bankruptcy and damage your credit, otherwise it’s probably less expensive in the long run to just eat the cost of the occasional accident (hopefully only once or twice in a lifetime). So liability, home and health insurance makes sense.

  • avatar
    FAS

    maybe a silly question, but here goes:

    How do they know where you park it? DO you send them a picture of it in your garage, park it on your quiet street you live on then they don’t cover it if the trashtruck runs into it?

    • 0 avatar
      Jesse

      In my case, they just asked me for the address of the garage. I rent one for my ’73 1800ES, because I don’t have a garage on my property. I don’t know whether or not they look up the address to see if a garage is there or not.

      I’ve never sent them pictures of anything, as far as I can remember.

    • 0 avatar
      Hillman

      Do you really want to commit fraud when the difference in price is not anywhere close to material? Just be honest.

  • avatar
    Syke

    The usual caveat: I’ve been a customer only. No other relationship.

    I’ve dealt with J.C. Taylor for antique motorcycle insurance, and the service has been good (happily, I got thru the period without claims); including the time they came to bat for the wife and me when I failed to insure our 1931 Indian 101 Scout until a week after I got it registered – and the state of Virginia decided to come down on us with both feet (charges of driving an uninsured vehicle, points and insane penalties).

    Prices are good (I was paying $146.00 for full coverage on a ’69 Honda Super 90, ’69 Triumph Bonneville, and the aforementioned Indian), based on the idea that you’re not going to be driving the vehicle daily. Which I kinda pushed in the case of the Bonnie.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    Heacock classic is the company that I have found to consistently offer the best rates. http://www.heacockclassics.com/

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    It would be nice if you could just insure yourself, you can only drive one car at a time. Of course the ins.comp. would fight this big time.

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      You can, it requires you to post a bond. Check your state regulations.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        Pretty sure mfgreen40 meant insurance specific to one’s person, rather than one’s vehicle. You’re talking about self-insurance, which is something else entirely.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      A funny thing in Switzerland is that you can even do this with your registration. You get plates with a quick release, and you just pop the plates onto whichever vehicle you’re going to be driving that day, and your license plates generally follow you for life. Honest as the Swiss are, people messing with the easily-removed plates doesn’t seem to be a worry, although the police did once stop my uncle when he accidentally mounted his plate upside down.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      You can it is called broad form named driver and provides liability coverage. I have it so I’m legal to drive any of my old cars that I don’t have a lot of money tied up in. Yes it is more expensive than liability only for 1 vehicle with a moderate risk factor but it is cheaper than insuring 2 vehicles and when you can’t count how many on one hand it is waaaay cheaper. We do have full coverage through a separate policy for our new cars that are worth full coverage and/or are financed.

  • avatar
    matador

    On all of my older stuff, the insurance seems to be pretty cheap anyways. I have an old square body Chevy 1/2 ton on our commercial policy. Plus, I can drive it however much I wish. My assessed value would be low, though. If I hit something, I’ll use junkyard parts. If junkyard parts can’t fix it, I’ll just buy another truck. They only sold what- 10 billion square body’s?

    Come up with a quasi-legit company, maybe? Mine is legitimate, but when I bought the policy, it was well worth it to go that route over my other option- a 18 year old male. Amazingly, a single-person LLC is way cheaper to insure!

  • avatar
    salguod

    One thing to be careful of is the terms of coverage. Many classic car insurers only cover very limited use – club functions, to and from a show, parades, etc. If you stop for dinner after the show and have an accident after dinner? Not covered, “going to dinner” isn’t an approved use. I work at a small company and drive my T’bird to work a few times a year, for those companies this wouldn’t be allowed and coverage would be denied.

    My car is to enjoy, and I drive it when I can in the summer, so I want coverage that will allow me to do so. I use JC Taylor because they allow occasional drives to work, church or dinner or just because as long as reasonable accommodations of protection of the car are made (I wouldn’t drive to work if I worked for a large company and had to park in a huge lot far away from my building, for example).

    As far as I understand, they’ll insure any thing older for the value you think it’s worth. If you want more than something like $25K, they’ll want an appraisal, however.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      This is the difference between insurance companies. With J.C. Taylor, they had no problem that I’d use one of the vintage bikes on Saturday’s to ride to work (motorcycle shop), and the agent admitted they wouldn’t get too nit-picky unless it started getting obvious that you were using the bike on a daily basis.

      And in Virginia, at that point, you’ve got more worries with the county deputy parked in his daily speed trap spot. Yes, they will pull you over if they see you using the car on a daily basis, and they just feel like being a prick.

      My policies limited me to something like 2-3000 miles a year per vehicle, and that was about the only use restriction.

  • avatar
    carve

    What would you guys recommend to insure a 1941 Graham Hollywood? I almost have it running and it’s in great condition. I’m scared to death to damage it though!

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      While rare and something of a classic, a Hollywood isn’t exactly a big bucks collectors car. I have a feeling the rates you’re seeing listed for some of the cars in these responses will probably apply to yours.

      And I’m envious. Would love to see it on the road. Have only seen them static in a museum at this point.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        With less than 1600 built, it’s rare enough. It was made with tooling from the Cord, though converted to RWD and had a supercharged six, so there might be enough history there for a good price for an original in good condition, just not the million$ for a Cord, Pierce-Arrow, or Duesenberg. Several that still exist were converted to hot rods with Chevy 350 V8s, so an original supercharged six in running condition might be worth more than you’d think.

  • avatar
    Peter

    My experience with Hagerty has been mixed. They allow regular use but require the car to be garaged and require that it is not your daily driver. The agreed-to valuation means that you agree to a value (and they are flexible; I have a project car insured with them for a value of $2k.) but if the worst happens, they will stick to that value. I found this out the hard way when they wanted to total my car because repairs were going to cost more than the car was insured for. After the accident they would not increase the agreed-to value and I had to work through the other insurer to get adequately reimbursed. This was my fault for not increasing the coverage but they do not go out of their way to ensure that you are aware of what your car is worth.

    Service has been spotty; I don’t think I ever spoke to the same person twice throughout the ordeal. I do like that I can drive my car to 7-11 without worrying that it isn’t an official club event. The cost is also reasonable but, and I can’t stress this enough, make sure that your car is insured for its market-correct value.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOlds

      Agreed on all counts. From my conversations with them, the only thing they expressly DON’T want me doing is taking the car to work. I put about 3000 miles a year on the olds, which is a LOT for an antique, but I drive it as much as I can in the summer (except to work, of course).

      The only thing I will say is as far as the agreed value, you’re paying premiums based on a maximum payout, so I can understand why they didn’t want to go beyond that. To do so would be like giving you the prime rib when all you paid for is a ham sandwich.

  • avatar
    thunderjet

    I’ve got my 88 Thunderbird insured for $10K through Grundy. It costs about $160 for the whole year (it’s a bit higher as I’m under thirty and still single, till September anyway). They had no problem insuring it for that amount. They have been great to deal with but I haven’t had to make a claim yet. I can drive the car as much as I want without mileage restrictions but I can’t take it to work. I can go to a car show, cruise night, dinner, or pleasure drive without issue. The car must be kept in a locked garage when at home however, which isn’t an issue for me.

    As to the storing the car outside bit: no they won’t know. If you put in a claim for your car being totaled by a garbage truck because it was sitting in the street in front of your house you won’t get paid because the car wasn’t in a locked garage.

  • avatar
    PeteRR

    I use American Collector for the Road Runner. 11 years and counting. Premiums are under $200 per year. No mileage limit. Two restrictions: No commuting to work and it must be garaged at home.

  • avatar
    Hillman

    I know a lot of insurance companies will give you a discount if you only drive X miles a year. The idea being you can’t hit someone if you are not driving

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    I used Hagerty insurance for the last 10 years. First on my 1971 Saab Sonett & then my 1971 Beetle which i restored after being stored in a barn in Ct for many, many years. One day i parked the car in front of my house before parking it behind my house and a young lady in a great rush hit my rear fender and drove off. Someone got her license number and i reported it to the police and to Hagerty. An adjuster came to the house and came up with a repair cost of $675.00. I received a check about 2 weeks later for said amount. I was going to buy a new fender and repair it myself when someone told me about a local shop in the next town that did nice work for a fair price. I took the car to see the owner to get a price. The owner opened the shop about two years earlier and was from Pakistan. He told me he used to repair Beetles in Karachi and would repair the fender for $200.00. I figured what do i have to lose but the fender. I left the car and received a call 3 hours later. The car was ready come pick it up. The car looked perfect.
    The fender was not replaced but was hammered out with no body filler. The owner said in Karachi he repaired up to a dozen fenders a day. I called Hagerty the next day and offered to send back the balance but was told to send them a picture and keep the balance. After another year they claimed i was not parking the car in the garage and cancelled my insurance. It just so happened i was in the process of selling the Beetle so i really did not care. My next car a 1971 Miata i insured with American Collector which was cheaper then Hagerty.

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    This is now the second time I’ve hyped my insurance provider, maybe that’s weird, but: Amica has treated me remarkably well, and I know that they do insure collector cars. Worth calling for a quote.

  • avatar
    raincoaster

    I had an accident in my 1980 Volvo Bertone (a 94 civic turned left into me and got it’s front ripped off) where my front left corner got crumpled. The headlights and turn signal still functioned but there was damage to the bumper and quarter panel. ICBC wouldn’t recognize that it was a special edition and refused to fix it, only offering a few hundred dollars compensation. I was young and dumb at the time and didn’t fight for it as hard as i should have. Loved that car.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    That 59 Chevy is a rustbucket, there is a giant cloud of rust erupting from it. It probably had just enough bodywork done to it to make it presentable, then its crunchy time. Just like the Fast and Furious movies.

  • avatar
    autojim

    My uncle insures the bulk of his fleet (’56 and ’57 Thunderbirds, ’57 Ranchero, ’59 unrestored original Skyliner, ’56 Continental Mark II) with JC Taylor and has been very happy with them for decades. The only one not with Taylor is the resto-in-progress ’57 ‘Bird, which is on a Hagerty policy as they’re the only ones we are aware of in the classic car insurance business who will write a comprehensive-only policy for a car in long-term storage or undergoing restoration.

    When I lived in MI, my regular AAA Michigan policy let me cover my in-long-term-storage ’65 Mustang with a comp-only policy, but when I moved to Texas, AAA Texas won’t do that – have to have at least property damage & medical liability as well (I thought it might be a Texas law thing, but it’s not). Since the car is immobile, I thought that silly (getting them to do a comp & collision on my car trailer was a pain in the ass, too, another thing AAA Michigan had no problem with). I’ve gone with Hagerty for the ’65.


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