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How to Find the Best Classic Car Insurance

May 20, 2019
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A classic car is a true collector’s item. Whether you’re proudly driving your antique beauty to a car show or painstakingly restoring it in your garage, you’ll want to find the best classic car insurance to protect your investment.

Classic car insurance is often cheaper than ordinary car insurance, since your prized possession generally spends less time on the road. But it typically comes with limits like mileage restrictions and rules about where you park your vintage vehicle.

Who sells classic car insurance?

Several specialty agencies focus on classic and collector car insurance, and many big-name insurers also offer it — often through a specialty partner. Specialty insurers might offer customized policies and perks a car hobbyist appreciates, but large or traditional insurers might offer bundling discounts and conveniences the specialty insurers can’t. That’s why it’s important to shop around and pay attention to the details. Here are some of your options.

* Geico also partners with Assurant.
** USAA is available only to active military members, veterans and their families.
Specialty agencies and companies selling classic car insurance
  • American Collectors.
  • American Modern.
  • Classic Collectors.
  • Condon Skelly.
  • Grundy.
  • Hagerty.
  • Heacock.
  • Leland-West.
  • Traditional insurers that also sell classic car insurance
  • American Family.
  • American National.
  • Farmers.
  • Liberty Mutual.
  • Safeco.
  • State Farm.
  • Traditional companies with specialty partnerships for classic car insurance
    Hagerty partners:
  • Allstate.
  • Esurance.
  • Nationwide.
  • Progressive.
  • American Modern partners:
  • Geico.*
  • The Hartford.
  • American Collectors partner:
  • USAA.**
  • Best companies for classic car insurance

    No single insurer is best for every collectible car. The ideal coverage for a Model T might not be the right fit for a muscle car, and the way you use your car makes a big difference in the insurance you need.

    It’s smart to get quotes from several companies and compare features. Here are some standouts we found.

    Best for regular use of a classic car: Safeco

    Driving your vintage car to work every day is a no-go for most classic car insurance policies. You’re limited to pleasure use, such as Sunday afternoon drives and trips to car shows. If that’s too restrictive for you, Safeco offers regular-use coverage as an option for your classic car, with an annual limit of 10,000 miles.

    » MORE: NerdWallet’s Safeco insurance review

    Honorable mention: Classic Collectors

    The “Drive to Work” option from Classic Collectors lets you commute in your classic car up to 30 days per policy term, as long as you don’t exceed five consecutive days in a 14-day period.

    However, most classic car insurers restrict use to pleasure rides only. Mileage options from some other companies include:

    CompanyAnnual mileage allowed for pleasure use
    American Family, Grundy, Hagerty and J.C. TaylorUnlimited
    American Collectors2,500, 5,000 or 7,500
    American Modern1,000, 3,000, 6,000 or unlimited
    American National10,000 or unlimited
    Heacock6,000

    Best for classic car culture: Hagerty

    Hagerty offers extras for drivers who love the classic car lifestyle. You can insure your “automobilia” — historic collectibles like gas pumps, license plates and hood ornaments. You can take a spin in someone else’s vintage beauty or allow other drivers to rent yours through DriveShare by Hagerty. Or you can join Hagerty Drivers Club, with events and forums to help classic car enthusiasts connect. You can join the club even if you don’t buy insurance from Hagerty.

    Best for classic cars rising in value: Grundy

    Your collector car may become more valuable over time, and you’ll want your insurance to keep up. With most classic car insurance, you and your insurer agree in advance on how much your car is worth, and that’s the amount you’ll get if the car is stolen or totaled. Grundy’s optional Motor Vehicle Program adds a cushion: You can get up to 150% of the insured amount if your car’s value has gone up.

    Honorable mention: American Collectors

    Policies from American Collectors include inflation protection of up to 6% for no additional premium.

    Best for emergency expenses coverage: American Collectors

    When driving a decades-old vehicle, you need to be prepared for breakdowns and other hazards. Many classic car insurance policies offer coverage for towing and roadside assistance, but American Collectors adds some notable extras in the gold and platinum levels of its “TLC plan.” If your vehicle is stolen, for instance, the insurer will offer a cash reward for information leading to its return — $2,500 if you have the gold plan, $5,000 if you chose the platinum plan. Those plans also will reimburse some nonrefundable car show and hotel fees if you miss a car show because of an accident or mechanical breakdown. If things really go awry on the road, the platinum plan even provides $5,000 of coverage for bail bond and $1,000 for legal defense.

    Qualifying for classic car insurance

    Age alone doesn’t turn a car into a classic. If your historic vehicle is held together by rust and duct tape, you may have trouble finding collector car coverage. Although insurance companies don’t always require appraisals, they have qualifications you and your car must meet.

    Requirements vary from one company to the next, but here’s an idea of what you can expect.

    Qualifications for the car

    Age. Auto insurers typically require a car to be 10 to 20 years old to be considered a classic and 25 years old to be an antique. Companies have different age requirements, but a new car generally won’t qualify for collector car insurance unless it’s an exotic vehicle like a Ferrari, a Lamborghini or a reproduction Shelby Cobra roadster.

    Condition. Insurers expect classic cars to be well-maintained. For example, Heacock Insurance says vehicles “must show pride of ownership.” Some insurers will accept vintage cars while they are being restored.

    Use. A collector car isn’t intended to be your daily ride. Some policies allow occasional use, while others strictly forbid running errands in your classic car or driving it to work while your regular vehicle is in the shop.

    Storage. Classic car insurance typically requires your vehicle to be kept in a locked garage. Some companies will consider alternatives like a carport or driveway, but your premium is likely to be higher.

    Qualifications for the driver

    Age and experience. Classic car insurance typically requires drivers to be at least 25 years old or have five to 10 years of driving experience.

    Driving record. Insurers want to see a clean driving record for anyone behind the wheel of a collector vehicle. Many require applicants to have no major violations or accidents in the past three to five years.

    Additional car. Companies typically require you to own a separate vehicle for regular use.

    Key features to look for in classic car insurance

    Whether your baby is a hot rod or a classic antique, it needs special treatment. When you shop for classic car insurance, ask about these features to make sure the policy is as unique as your car.

    Agreed value. If your everyday car is totaled, regular car insurance typically pays the “actual cash value” at the time, which can be much less than you paid for the vehicle. That model doesn’t work well for collector cars, which can increase in value over time. So most classic car insurance is based upon “agreed value,” which means you and your insurance company agree in advance on what your car is worth, and you’re guaranteed to get that amount, minus your deductible, if the car is totaled.

    Some companies offer “stated value,” which sounds similar to “agreed value.” But these policies may say that if your car is totaled, you’ll get the stated value or actual cash value, whichever is less. If you want a guaranteed value, check the fine print to be sure.

    Restoration coverage. If you’re bringing a tired old vehicle back to life, you’ll probably want insurance while you restore it. Several companies offer this coverage. You may need to increase your agreed value along the way as improvements make your car more valuable. Hagerty offers a “Vehicle Under Construction” plan that does this for you, boosting your guaranteed value 10% per quarter during restoration.

    Spare parts coverage. Anyone who tinkers with cars knows how expensive auto parts can be, especially for collectible vehicles, so many classic car insurance policies offer parts coverage. For example, American Modern, Heacock and Leland-West all provide $2,000 of coverage for lost or stolen spare parts, with an option to buy more in some cases.

    Finding discounts and savings on classic car insurance

    Solid collectible car coverage can be affordable, even though your dream wheels may have cost more than your daily ride. Classic car insurance companies offer a wide variety of discounts.

    Since each classic car is unique, it’s essential to shop for the best coverage, the best rate and the best discounts. As you compare collector car policies, ask the companies if these discounts and savings opportunities are available to you.

    • More than one car. Several companies offer discounts for insuring more than one car, whether it’s multiple classic vehicles or your collector car plus your everyday ride. Some have special discounts for enthusiasts with large collections.
    • More than one policy. You may get a discount if you bundle your classic car policy with other types of coverage, like homeowners insurance or life insurance.
    • Fewer miles. Unlimited mileage may sound great, but if you don’t drive your collector car much, a policy with a mileage limit might be cheaper.
    • Higher deductible. Although several companies will let you choose a zero-deductible policy, a higher deductible means a lower premium.
    • Anti-theft devices. Several companies give price breaks for anti-theft measures. At American Modern, for example, these discounts range from 5% to 20%.
    • Car club membership. If you’re part of an approved car club, you may get a discount.
    • Safe driving course. Taking an accident prevention course can save you 5% to 10% with American Modern. Several other companies also offer price breaks for safety education.
    • Winter storage. If you drive your collector car only in the summer, some companies offer a credit for winter months or let you reduce your coverage while the car is in storage.
    • Switching insurers. Some companies offer a discount for switching from a competitor. At Classic Collectors, this price break is 15%, for instance.

    NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool can help you check quotes from multiple insurers. While the tool focuses on traditional car insurance, you can get classic car insurance quotes from some of these companies. To get quotes from specialty agencies that don’t appear here, contact the agencies directly.