There are many reasons to insure your classic car with a policy made specifically for collector vehicles; American Collectors Insurance claims that you could save as much as 40% on premiums; Hagerty, another company that specializes in classic car insurance, claims that you could save as much as 21%.
Josh Grundy, director of marketing at Grundy Insurance, stated that the average cost of a policy “is too variable in regard to the vehicle, location, value, and other factors to give you a number, but our rates are typically 30% to 40% more cost effective than large insurance companies, and 15% to 20% more competitive than our direct competitors in the niche insurance space.”
In the event of an accident, a valued automobile will not only be seen as a “used car” and written off for a small portion of what it could command in the marketplace—a collector policy valuation will be in keeping with the true worth of the vehicle.
The 1993 Saab 900 Turbo convertible in very good condition with a five-speed manual transmission is valued between US$571 and US$1,162 according to Kelley Blue Book, but as of Monday, US$11,690 was the value according to Classic.com, which looks at recent sales prices.
Paul Morrissette, president of Chubb Insurance Solutions Agency, based in New Jersey, told Penta that “the value of the car is agreed upon by the owner and the insurer. It will take into account what was paid for the car, and any additional work done since the purchase. You will know exactly what the dollar amount is for a total loss.”
The Pennsylvania-based company, founded in 1947, claims that its founder, Grundy’s grandfather, pioneered the agreed-upon value for classic cars. “The agreed-upon valuation makes all the difference in the world,” he told Penta. “In the event of a total loss, some insurance companies will nickel and dime you to bring down the amount paid out.”
Obviously, classic insurers will not agree to an unreasonable valuation; for example, if a car requires a restoration that is significantly more expensive than its actual value, the insurer is unlikely to agree to cover the full cost of the remake. “But we will work with you to see if you can show receipts and prove the car’s value,” he says.
Morrissette said that premiums (a few hundred dollars a year on a car valued at US$50,000) tend to be low because classic car owners drive their cars both carefully and infrequently, and they invariably garage them and keep up maintenance. “There is an emotional attachment, and a lot more concern than would be given to the daily driver,” he says. Chubb claims to be the largest insurer of high-net-worth individuals, but that does not mean its services are expensive.
“Enthusiasts shouldn’t be paying daily driver rates for cars that are only driven in fair weather or on weekends,” said Trent Abbott, vice president of private client business development at Hagerty.
Collector car owners also don’t make a lot of claims. Tom Cotter, who hosts The Barn Find Hunter video series, told Penta, “I’ve had collector cars since I was 15 and I’m almost 70 now. In all that time, I made only one insurance claim, in 2018, and it was when a bear ripped the top of my AC Cobra in Alaska.”
It is also crucial, according to Morrissette, that the insurer does not insist that the collector car go to a single insurer-approved repair shop because “limited-production vehicles often need to get specialized care, and we understand that.” The agreed-upon value can be adjusted at any time because the market for classic cars fluctuates.
Abbott agreed. “We’ve had cases where the owner has chosen to do the work her or himself, and others where we’ve sent cars overseas to get the right shop to do the job—and everything in-between.”
Not only is 24-hour roadside assistance a given in most classic car policies, but it is needs-adjusted. Morrissette said the car will be secured on a flatbed truck, instead of being pulled behind a tow vehicle—a process that can cause damage. “
Both Chubb and Grundy offer automatic coverage on recently acquired cars and trucks, such as those bought at auction. “Once you buy the car you are covered,” Morrissette said. “It is not necessary to call us beforehand.” At Grundy, the package includes agreed-value guarantees, no deductible in most states, uninsured motorist coverage, spare parts inventory coverage, trip interruption up to $600, towing and labor up to $250, and other features.
Hagerty has emerged as a giant in collector car insurance, with 1.8 million vehicles covered. It owns such events as the Amelia Island, Detroit, and Greenwich concours d’elegance, plus auction house Broad Arrow. Its definition of collector vehicles is broad. “Basically, if it isn’t a vehicle you drive for your everyday transport, Hagerty can protect it,” the company says.
Many insurance companies are now offering variations on collector car insurance. Progressive, for example, insures “vintage motorcycles, military vehicles, milk trucks, sports vehicles, exotic cars, street rods, and all antique vehicles, including tractors.” Grundy insures the majority of the top 200 private American collections, including eight of the 11 most recent Pebble Beach winners, according to Josh Grundy. Some collections are quite large, with hundreds of cars.