The Difference Between Classic Car and Regular Car Insurance
Every classic owner knows an antique, vintage, or specialty car isn’t your standard set of wheels. While there may not be a uniform definition of what constitutes a classic, the truth is that regular car insurance is insufficient to insure an antique vehicle. There are differences in value, mileage driven, and the cost of replacement that factor into what an owner should pay.
If you are familiar with standard car insurance, you know that the company that underwrites your policy has lots of ways to determine the rates you will pay. For example, the number of miles you commute each day back and forth to work, whether you use the vehicle for work or personal use, and even if you are married or not all help calculate rates. Since your daily driver is used more than your classic car (and has an increased potential for an accident), you will pay more generally for standard automobile insurance.
Classic car insurance is generally cheaper to purchase (most estimates are that it is 40% cheaper), due primarily to the fact that you don’t drive your antique but now and then. (Notably, many states restrict classic car usage to parades, civic events, or traveling to or from car club activities).
Another difference between classic and standard car insurance is how the car's value is calculated. Since classic cars tend to increase in value as they age, the insurance rates are determined by replacement value. While you might have purchased a 1972 Nova for around $2,500 back in the day, that isn’t the value your insurance company will agree to (nor do you want them to). Your insurance company will want you to insure it for more than $16,500 - $20k.
The older your standard car gets, the less it is worth (in most cases). Added miles and wear and tear will affect the value of what the insurance company will pay in the event of a total loss situation. So while classic car values rise over time, standard cars and trucks do the opposite.
What Will My Insurer Want For Me To Insure A Classic?
While every insurer has its own set of regulations and rules to underwrite your policy, there are a couple of factors that you will need to be aware of.
Proof of Ownership and Value
Be prepared to prove to your insurer precisely who owns the car and how much the value is. While, in some cases, the worth of an antique is hard to determine, your insurance company should have a list of valuation tools you can use.
Limit To Who Can Drive
The classic car policies are intended to be restrictive. Most insurers require the owner to be over 25 years old and have a valid driver’s license without any accidents in the last 3 - 5 years. Younger drivers can expect to pay more (if the company will insure them at all).
Where The Car Is Stored
Most classic car insurance companies require that the car be secured in a locked garage or structure that will protect it from the elements. Be prepared to answer some questions about what kinds of security cameras or other anti-theft devices you may have installed.
Where The Car Is Driven
As lovely as speed is, classic car insurance companies don’t like it. (Neither do standard insurers.) Think again if you plan on racing the car or taking it to the drag race to beat your fastest quarter-mile time. Most classic insurers simply will not allow it.
Many states are moving to restrict classic and antique vehicles on the road for safety reasons), You might have to submit an affidavit attesting that you are not driving the car daily when you renew your premiums each year.
What Are The Best Classic Car Insurers?
There are several companies that insure classic automobiles, motorcycles, and trucks. We have listed a few below that are worth checking out.
With over 2 million classic car policies in force, Hagerty is one of the most prominent players in classic car insurance. (Many classic restorers are familiar with their valuation tools). Hagety’s insurance division will insure all classic and antique vehicles, whether a car, truck, motorcycle, tractor, or boat. (They also insure race cars). Essentially, as long as the vintage vehicle is not a daily driver, these folks will insure it.
One of the appeals to insure with Hagerty is that they also insure a vehicle regardless of its condition. (This means that the restoration project can be covered at the beginning of the effort rather than waiting for a finished model. Since many classic car lovers are constantly working on a project of love - that might take years, this gives them options and some peace of mind).
We like Hagerty because they underwrite Progressive’s classic car insurance program. (If you own a progressive policy already, you might qualify for discounts, believe us, it is worth checking out). Hagerty boasts that its rates are about 34% less than standard rates, and they have a Dirver’s Club that offers free roadside assistance and other discounts on transportation, hotels, and even a few restaurants. The company works with parts suppliers, so there are sometimes deals to be had if you mention that you're a fellow member. And should you decide to list your antique on the market, Hagerty provides a free classified segment that can connect you to like-minded individuals who already have a love for vintage vehicles.
Hagerty does impose mileage restrictions on classic collectible vehicles of 3,500 miles per year (although they will consider policies of up to 7,500 miles).
The company has been in business since 1984, when the founders, Frank and Louise Hagerty, could not find coverage for their antique wooden boats. They began covering antique vessels, and in 1991, the company expanded its coverage to classic vehicles..
- Extensive coverage
- Driver’s Club offers perks
- Parts suppliers
- Insures restoration projects
- Limited mileage
American Collectors Insurance
One of the highest-rated classic car insurance companies is American Collectors Insurance. With a 4.9 Google rating, this company works hard to satisfy particular classic cars, trucks, and motorcycle owners. The most significant advantage to this company is that it offers tailor-made policies that fit your individual needs rather than having a one-size-fits-all policy crammed down your throat. There are varying deductible plans, agreed values, and excellent customer service, even on Saturdays.
There are three different mileage restriction guides that owners can choose from. Most classic owners opt for the 2,500 miles plan, but there are 5k and 7,500-mile plans that can be chosen. The company offers four different roadside assistance plans, giving owners options.
ACI will require you to agree on a value for insurance purposes and demonstrate that the vehicle will be in a secure location to protect it. The company also may require proof that you own and use a daily driver other than the classic car. They offer an “inflation guard” (6% rather than the industry standard 4%), which can help increase your car’s value year to year and ensure you receive a fair market value for your ride.
One of the most significant advantages of ACI is that they do not restrict the age of the classics they insure (although the car must have collector value). The company’s headquarters is in NJ, and they have been insuring vehicles since 1996. ,
- No age restriction for vehicles
- Flexible deductible options
- Flexible mileage plans
- Four Roadside assistance programs
- # 1 Classic vehicle insurance company
- Customer service - roadside assistance not available 24/7
Safeco is one of the best classic car insurers because they allow you to drive your classic daily.
The company does limit the mileage to 10k annually, but there are no restrictions on where or how often you can take your beauty out for a spin. (Safeco does offer a “restricted mileage policy of 5k miles). Remember that even though your insurer might allow everyday use, your state might not).
Safeco does insure classic cars, but the vehicle must be restored to at least 50% original. Classic cars and antiques must be at least ten years old, and antiques at least 25. They will not insure any kit, race car, or anything equipped with nitrous oxide.
Safeco will not require you to insure your standard car with them to cover your classic, but doing so can lead to multi-car discounts to help save some money. Safeco is a division of Liberty Mutual Insurance.
- No daily driving restrictions
- 10k miles per year allowed
- Large auto insurers
- Restrictions on restoration percentage
- No kit cars, no speedsters, no hot-rods
Heacock is a classic car insurer that has been doing business since 1989. They are a favorite among classic vehicle lovers, and while they are not the cheapest insurance, they provide good quality coverage. Heacock only has about 40k policies (most of which are underwritten by American Modern).
The company is restrictive on use, but in its favor, it does insure race cars and high-performance muscle cars (which not many classic car insurers will do).
The company writes policies for the lower 48 states (Alaska and Hawaii are omitted). They do value the car based on “agreed value,” so you want to make sure that the amount that the company places on your classic is something you can live with.
- Classic car insurer - small but growing
- Restrictive vehicle use
- Insures high-performance vehicles
- No inflation guard so rates can change
American Modern Insurance
American Modern has been in business for over 50 years and is a significant player n the classic vehicle insurance world. They write policies in all fifty states and insure all classic and vintage vehicles, including exotic cars, muscle car reproductions, and used farm or military equipment. The company will have an agreed value before you sign your policy, so owners will have a good evaluation before paying a premium. The company does not cover restoration projects, per se, but they provide up to $2,000 in stolen parts coverage.
There have been some complaints about the speed of processed claims, but if you have a good driving record and meet other eligibility requirements, the discounts are pretty good (up to 45%). However, if you are high risk, chances are American Modern will drop you or make you pay for having them as your insurer. Classic car owners should always shop for the best rates.
- Large insurer
- Parts coverage
- Insures all kinds of vehicles
- Writes in all 50 states
- Slow claim service
- Parts coverage should be more
About THE AUTHOR
My name is Matt and I've been around cars all my life! I have owned and worked on many different classic vehicles, so I started this site to share my experiences. If you're new to classic cars, then this website is for you.Read More About Matt Lane