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Classic car insurance

Close-up of a red, classic car.
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Classic cars hold a special place in the hearts of many drivers. However, classic cars are distinct from standard vehicles. Many have been restored, drivers often own spare parts or tools, and some classic car owners have automobilia to consider insuring. Because of this, you may want to consider buying a collector car insurance policy rather than a standard auto policy.

A classic car is usually defined as being at least 10 to 25 years old, although exact definitions vary between classic car insurance companies. In addition to the age of classic vehicles, you may want to take your vehicle’s value and condition into account when shopping for insurance. Along with the standard auto insurance coverage types, classic car coverage typically offers different options to help you craft the best policy for your needs. Bankrate explores classic car insurance to help you learn how to navigate the shopping process.

What is classic car insurance?

Classic car coverage is a specific type of car insurance policy, designed for the special needs involved in owning and driving classic cars. As a general rule, if a car’s value exceeds its original selling price and the vehicle is 10 to 25 years old or more, then it may be considered a collectible or classic.

A classic car insurance policy will typically include some of the same coverage types and provisions as regular auto insurance, but there will also be some key differences. For example, while a standard car depreciates in value with age, a classic car generally appreciates — or gains value — with age. Classic car insurance is designed to allow you to adjust coverage upward as your car increases in worth. A typical classic car insurance policy may include standard coverage types, like liability, comprehensive coverage and collision coverage, but can also come with some special perks, like agreed value coverage and coverage for car shows.

Benefits of classic car insurance

Classic car insurance may offer more financial backing for your vehicle. Unlike a regular car, classic or collectible cars have the potential to gain value rather than lose value. Some of the benefits of buying classic car insurance are:

  • To receive the full, agreed-upon replacement value if your classic car is stolen or totaled
  • To receive higher reimbursement for vehicle repairs if the collectible vehicle is damaged in a crash or covered peril
  • To have specialized transportation for the vehicle in the event it needs to be towed
  • To gain access to coverage for your restoration tools or automobilia

What is the best insurance for classic cars?

Classic cars have some insurance coverage similarities with standard cars, but also have some unique coverage needs, such as an adjustable coverage limit to account for the car’s value potential value increase over time.

Some of the 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:

When comparing coverage from the top carriers, some worthwhile features to consider looking into include:

  • Higher limits for spare parts, which can be more expensive than for a standard vehicle
  • Inflation protection to cover your vehicle as it appreciates in value
  • Less restrictive mileage limits (or none) if you plan on driving your vehicle more frequently
  • Discounts that help you save on classic car insurance

Types of Coverage

A classic car is a major purchase that needs to be properly maintained and adequately insured in the event that damage occurs to the vehicle. There are several different types of classic car insurance coverage for you to consider.

Agreed value

Classic cars are unique in that their value increases over time, whereas more contemporary vehicles tend to depreciate in value as soon as you drive them off the lot. It will be up to you and your insurance provider to agree on an adequate value for the vehicle. You may need to provide proof of what you paid for the vehicle, proof of any restorations or upgrades you’ve made to it, or proof of comparative vehicle prices to justify the amount of coverage you seek. 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 may 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. Remember, if you are restoring a classic car it must be restored using the original design and parts.

Spare parts coverage

Classic car aficionados may have a few spare parts for future upgrades. With spare parts coverage, you may 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, commonly called automobilia coverage.

What kind of vehicles qualify for classic car insurance?

Antique cars, hotrods, exotic and luxury cars, muscle cars and classic trucks are a few examples of the types of vehicles that may need classic car insurance. Besides the type of vehicle, there are other requirements to meet before you can get classic car insurance.

For the car

Most classic car insurers have a set of qualifications that must be met for a vehicle to be covered under a classic car policy. Each insurer has its 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 likely won’t be able to commute to work every day in your classic car, whether it’s a short commute or otherwise. Some insurers will place an annual mileage limit on your vehicle; others have a list of uses expressly forbidden, such as commuting to work. Some insurers require you own a primary car for your everyday use to ensure that is not your purpose for the classic car.
  • Condition: Classic car insurers want to see that you are taking good care of your vehicle. To prove the condition of your vehicle, you may need to provide photos to your insurer when you take out a policy or agree to an inspection. If you’re planning to do major restorative work, you may need to purchase restoration coverage.
  • Storage: Where you store your classic car will affect how much you pay for insurance. Some providers require the vehicle to be in a locked, enclosed and private structure.

For the driver

Owning a classic car is a big responsibility. Insurance companies generally want to know that you’re a low-risk classic car owner to insure you.

  • Age and experience: Teen drivers and young adults tend to have higher crash rates than older, more experienced drivers. You may have to be at least 25 years old to insure a classic car.
  • Driving record: While you may still be able to get classic car insurance with a less-than-perfect driving record, drivers with clean driving records will generally pay lower rates.
  • Additional car: Since classic car insurance policies don’t cover everyday use, you may 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, it may be helpful to have the following information readily available. It’s important to apply 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 usually 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 likely 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 should 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.

If you’ve got this information ready, you can shop around online to seek quotes using online quoting tools or call and speak with an agent directly. Most insurance professionals recommend getting at least three quotes from different providers.

How much is classic car insurance?

As with standard auto insurance, how much your premium will be depends on a variety of factors, some related to the car and some related to the driver. Some factors that may affect your car insurance cost, depending on your state, are the age of the vehicle, the value of the vehicle, the age of the driver, the gender of the driver, the driver’s driving record, credit score and more.

Discounts and savings

Even though classic car insurance may be less expensive than standard car insurance, it may still be helpful to look for ways to save. For example, you might bundle multiple vehicles and policies together, put security measures into place or increase your deductible, if you feel comfortable with a higher amount.

Here’s a list of ways you may be able to save on your classic car insurance:

  • Keep more than one policy under the same insurer for a bundle discount
  • Drive fewer miles
  • Opt for a higher deductible (just be sure you can afford to pay it if you file a claim)
  • 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

Keep in mind that discount availability and eligibility vary by state and insurance company. The best way to know what savings opportunities are available to you is to talk to a company representative.

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, you do have the option to bundle regular car insurance with classic car insurance. This was not possible in the past, but Mildred Ayala, First Vice President of Private Client Services at HUB International Northeast, says: “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.”

Frequently asked questions

How is classic car insurance different from regular car insurance?

Classic car coverage is designed for the unique needs of classic car owners. Regular auto insurance may cover a classic vehicle, but it probably won’t come with the perks of a classic or collector car insurance policy. These specialized policies often include coverage types like agreed value coverage, spare parts coverage and specialized towing services to avoid damage to your vehicle.

How old does my car have to be before it’s considered classic?

Classic car insurance companies all have their own specific underwriting guidelines, but in general, classic cars are vehicles that are 10 to 25 years old. However, age usually isn’t the only requirement, and not all decade-old vehicles are classic. Be prepared to discuss your vehicle’s condition, modifications and restoration plans with an agent when you are shopping for classic car coverage.

Does my driving record impact my classic car insurance?

Yes, your driving record does impact your classic car insurance. Any at-fault accidents, tickets or DUI convictions that you have on your driving record will impact your rate for classic car insurance, just like they impact your regular auto insurance rate. In general, one or more of these incidents will likely increase your premium, and if your driving record is poor, you may be considered a high-risk driver.

Written by
Cynthia Paez Bowman
Personal Finance Contributor
Cynthia Paez Bowman is a former personal finance contributor at Bankrate. She is a finance and business journalist who has been featured in Business Jet Traveler, MSN, CheatSheet.com, Freshome.com and TheSimpleDollar.com.
Edited by
Insurance Editor