It’s practically a universal truth: classic car owners take excellent care of their vehicles. On a whole, they tend to drive their vintage rides less frequently, store them in garages when not in use, and they tend to not drive them at all during inclement weather (some wrap them up tight all winter long). And when owners do take their classic cars out on the open road, they tend to drive defensively and strictly adhere to traffic laws. Classic cars are not, for the majority of owners, everyday cars used to commute and run errands. Auto insurance companies know these tendencies and often offer lower rates for classic car insurance. But you have to ask for it.
Classic, Antique, and Vintage Cars: Defined
Just because your whip predates cell phones (or even cordless phones) doesn’t mean it automatically has a special designation, like classic, antique, or vintage. Older cars can be just that: older cars. For a car to truly be a classic, antique, or vintage, it must meet certain requirements (there is often significant overlap among the following categories). From State Farm and Cars Direct:
- A classic automobile is one between 10 and 40 years old that has been maintained and restored in a way that stays true to it’s original manufacturing.
- An antique automobile is defined state-by-state, and sometimes insurance company-by-insurance company. But in general, antique cars are 25 or more years old and, like classic cars, have been maintained and restored according to their original specifications.
- A vintage automobile is more loosely defined, but in general, it’s a car that was manufactured between 1919 and 1930. Vintage cars can be modified and still maintain their status (unlike antique and classic cars).
Special Auto Insurance Rates for Antiques and Classics
Classic cars and antiques are often a big investment for owners (either with time spent building or restoring, or money purchasing) and many people assume that insurance to protect such a vehicle would be equally pricey. But in a rare case of auto insurance luck, that’s often not the case. Instead, many auto insurance companies actually offer special rates for antiques and classics, but you often have to specifically ask for these rates from your carrier—as in, don’t just call up your agent and add your classic to your existing policy. To qualify for a special rate, you’ll have to meet certain requirements (which of course vary carrier to carrier), but these are some of the big requirements (from State Farm):
- The vehicle must be used on a “very limited basis, such as exhibitions, club activities, and parades or similar events.”
- “You need to have restored, maintained, or preserved your antique or classic car.”
- Some carriers have mileage limits, some do not.
The savings can be big. For example, Progressive offers special classic car insurance which can, they say, offer savings of up to 45% from traditional policies. If you have to make a claim, they’ll help you hunt down replacement parts (even rare and hard-to-find ones), and if you have to claim a total loss, your pre-arranged fair value promises to cover every cent (with no depreciation). To qualify for classic car insurance, says Progressive, “you need to park it in a garage, use it as an extra car—not your daily driver—and keep it in good working condition.”
Saving money on your premium isn’t the only reason to consider special classic car insurance. Classic cars are fundamentally different from traditional cars in that they are collectors’ items (if kept and restored properly). And as any collector knows, these items increase in value as they age. But traditional car insurance policies are built on the assumption that cars lose value, which, when used every day for normal use, they do. Carrying special classic car insurance means your investment is properly covered, just in case.
Classic car policies aren’t limited to expensive antiques, either. If you think you might be eligible for a special rate, give your agent a call. And if your current carrier doesn’t offer classic car insurance rates, shop around.
Classic Car Insurance Companies
Here’s a list of some of the biggest carriers offering special classic car insurance:
In your savings excitement, don’t forget to look carefully at what’s covered by your policy. Some issues that tend to affect classic cars (such as corrosion, or critter infestations during winter storage) probably won’t be covered by your policy, so be sure to check the fine print and keep up with your impeccable car care.