What Is Classic Car Insurance?

by Michael Hinckley

Most classic-car buffs spend years looking for the right car, months or more restoring it, and thousands of dollars keeping it looking fresh and clean. To protect that investment, it is important to get insurance; but not just any old car insurance will do. Understanding classic-car insurance is important to becoming a well-informed buyer of protection for a treasure on wheels.


Classic-car insurance differs from average car insurance in that it is geared toward the protection of older, usually more expensive cars that are maintained and driven as a hobby, and not as primary (or even secondary) means of transportation. Sometimes, classic-car insurance is also called "collector-car insurance."


Most people who get car insurance feel that a car that is driven less is cheaper to insure, but this is a misconception. Cars that are driven for fun--that is, only occasionally--are often more expensive to insure than cars used for daily or semi-daily transportation. Also, the average car-insurance policy is inadequate to repair or replace expensive classic, vintage or antique cars, and so makes a poor fit with a collector or hobbyist's needs.


Three types of cars can be insured under "classic car insurance": vintage, classic and antique. A vintage car is usually only a few decades old, such as a 1981 Ferrari 308. Classic cars are slightly older, such as a 1966 Mustang or a 1957 Chevy. Antique cars are even older; though any car over 25 years old is technically considered an "antique," the term is usually reserved for cars produced in the 1920s or 1930s, such as the Rolls Royce Phantom II or the Ford Model T.


Classic-car insurance typically offers more protection than regular car insurance, simply because classic cars require parts that can be rare, expensive or both. Also, since the car is usually taken out only occasionally, the classic-car insurance has special rate reductions for periods of prolonged inactivity (such as during the winter months) that regular car-insurance policies do not provide for.


Price should be only a secondary consideration to the purchaser of classic-car insurance. Of the utmost importance are the quality of the service and the terms of the coverage (a price limit on parts, for example). Additionally, the purchaser should be careful of the "Agreed Price Valuation" clause, which is invoked in the event that the car is stolen or completely wrecked. This clause may yield far less than the actual value of the car, so it should be read carefully.

About the Author

Michael Hinckley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in US history from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Arts degree in Middle East history from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Hinckley is conversant in Arabic, and is a part-time lecturer at two Midwestern universities.

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