The Classic Car Owner’s Guide to Insurance

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6 min read

Owning a classic car is a lifelong dream for many car lovers. When the day finally comes to drive your dream car home, you’ll want to make sure your new investment is protected. But just as owning and caring for a classic car is completely different from normal car ownership, standard car insurance policies won’t provide the coverage you need. You’ll have to purchase a specific classic car insurance policy.

Classic car insurance is designed to meet the unique needs of classic car owners, while providing less coverage in areas that commuter cars need. Whether or not a vehicle meets the definition of a classic car may be up to the provider, however typically these vehicles are at least 25 years old, have a current value higher than their original purchase price, and require custom or rare parts. Classic car coverage includes antique cars over 45 years old and vintage cars, which can be up to 100 years old. It’s also the best type of policy for collector cars that spend more time in storage or on display than being driven.

Will my car insurance cover my classic car?

Owners of classic cars have totally different insurance needs from owners of standard commuter vehicles. Classic cars aren’t driven as far or frequently, so they don’t need quite as much liability coverage. However, special parts and skilled labor are major concerns in case of repairs, which insurers need to factor into a classic car insurance policy.

Some of our best car insurance companies offer classic car insurance policies, while others are specialized classic car insurance providers. Here is a list of insurers to consider:

Types of Coverage

Owning a classic car is a lot of work, so your insurance policy should reflect the time and money you put into maintaining your car’s value.

Agreed value

Classic cars are unique in that their value increases over time, whereas the 2019 car you just bought will begin to depreciate in value as soon as you drive it off the lot. You and your insurer will have to mutually decide on an agreed value, or what you estimate the car is worth, since it is more factors determine value on an older car than newer one. Your policy should cover the full value and change over time to reflect the vehicle’s appreciation.

Restoration coverage

If you’re in the process of restoring a classic car, ask your insurer about restoration coverage. You’ll need to provide proof of ongoing restoration work, but your car will be covered during the restoration period and your policy will automatically adjust to account for the increase in value. A vehicle under construction policy could even provide coverage for your automotive tools and quarterly value increases.

Spare parts coverage

What classic car aficionado doesn’t have a few spare parts lying around? With spare parts coverage, you’ll be protected in case anything happens to the expensive specialty tools and parts in your possession. Some providers even offer coverage for your automotive collectibles.

Classic car insurance qualifications

For the car

Most classic car insurers will have a set of qualifications that must be met for a vehicle to be covered under a classic car policy. Each insurer has their own set of rules, but they generally share a few common factors.

  • Age: Cars should be at least a decade or two old to be eligible for a classic car insurance policy, sometimes more. Some newer vehicles may qualify as collector cars, but these are the exception, not the rule.
  • Limited use: You can’t drive 20 miles to work every day in your classic car. Some insurers will place an annual mileage limit on your vehicle; others have a list of uses expressly forbidden, such as commuting to work.
  • Condition: Classic car insurers want to see that you are taking good care of your vehicle. Don’t let things fall into disrepair unless you want to risk getting dropped by your insurance provider. If you’re planning to do major restorative work, you’ll need to purchase restoration coverage.
  • Storage: Where you store your classic car will affect how much you pay for insurance. Your best bet is to keep it in a locked garage or specialized storage facility.

For the driver

Owning a classic car is a big responsibility. Before they’ll cover your collector’s piece, insurance companies will want to know that you’re a low-risk classic car owner.

  • Age and experience: Insurers know that young drivers without much experience aren’t likely to be prepared for classic car ownership. You’ll usually have to be at least 25 years old to insure one of these vehicles.
  • Driving record: Keep your record clean if you want to insure a classic car. You should have no at-fault accidents, DUIs or other major infractions in the past five years.
  • Additional car: Since classic car insurance policies don’t cover everyday use, you’ll have to show proof that you own another vehicle for your daily commute.

How to get a classic car insurance quote

Once you’re ready to start shopping around and compare car insurance quotes, have the following information readily available. It’s important to provide the same information to all insurers to get quotes that are easy to compare.

  • Make, model, year and type: You should know the make and model of your classic car as well as the year it was originally built. Decide which type best describes your vehicle: classic, vintage, antique or collector.
  • Miles driven per year: Think about how many miles you plan to drive your classic car each year. It should be a low number, generally under 5,000 miles. Many classic car insurers have mileage limits you’ll have to keep in mind.
  • Modifications: Have there been any modifications made to the vehicle? Do you plan to make any yourself? These are all questions that insurers will want the answers to, since they can greatly affect the value of the car.
  • Storage type: Decide where you will store your classic car and how you will protect it. Locks and alarm systems may help lower your insurance premium, while storing the car outdoors or anywhere with low protection will drive rates higher or disqualify you entirely from coverage.
  • Driver history: Your insurance provider will be able to look up your driver history to check for accidents and infractions. If you’re not sure what your driver history looks like, contact your local DMV for a copy of your driving record before getting quotes.

Discounts and savings

On average, classic car insurance is less expensive than traditional car insurance. Regardless, there are still a few ways you can save money while insuring your classic car. For example, you might opt for a higher deductible, bundle multiple vehicles and policies together or put security measures into place.

Here’s a full list of ways you could save on your classic car insurance:

  • Insure more than one car
  • Keep more than one policy under the same insurer for a multi-policy discount
  • Drive fewer miles
  • Opt for a higher deductible
  • Install anti-theft devices
  • Show proof of car club membership
  • Complete a safe driving course
  • Show proof of storage and keep your vehicle stored during winter
  • Shop around for lower rates or switch insurers

How do you determine the value of a classic car?

According to Jack McKenzie of Auto Accessories Garage, “There are a lot of aspects involved in appraising a classic vehicle. The value can vary based on the condition of the exterior, the condition of the interior, the state of the mechanical components, the authenticity of the vehicle, and how many original parts are still in working order.”

Can I bundle regular car insurance with classic car insurance?

Yes. In the past, this was not possible, but Mildred Ayala, First Vice President of Private Client Services at HUB International Northeast explains: “Due to the increased number of individuals owning classic & collectible vehicles, many insurance carriers now allow them to be added to the standard policy providing coverage for everyday use, private passenger vehicles. You need to inquire with the insurance company to see if this is something they offer. Some carriers that do offer this option are Chubb, PURE, Cincinnati Insurance Company and AIG Private Client.”

The Bottom Line

Classic car insurance is available from many different providers, including both specialty classic car insurers and traditional insurance companies. Your car is unique, so take your time shopping around for a policy that best fits your needs. A good classic car insurer should give you the freedom to enjoy your vehicle while protecting its value for years to come with the cheapest car insurance that fits your needs.