Classic Car Insurance: What Is It? How Does It Work?

Classic Car Insurance: What Is It? How Does It Work?

Find Cheap Auto Insurance Quotes in Your Area

Currently insured?

Classic car insurance provides specialized coverage options and expert service tailored to the needs of classic car owners, which may not be available from a regular car insurance company.

The most important feature of a classic car insurance policy is agreed value coverage, which means you and your insurer agree on the value of your car based on an appraisal. Many classic car insurers also offer special coverages for things like displaying your vehicle at car shows, as well as having expertise in the repair of exotic vehicles.

However, using classic car insurance may come with drawbacks, such as mileage limits, and only certain cars are eligible for a classic car insurance policy.

What is classic car insurance?

There are several services and features that distinguish classic car insurance from an average insurance policy, but the most important one is agreed value coverage.

In an agreed value policy, you and your insurer agree on the value of the car you own, and that's how much it's insured for. This could be anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 or more — it's all dependent on what your classic car is worth, as determined by an appraiser.

This is in contrast to the way typical cars are insured. If you have a commonly available car, your insurer will determine its value based on comparable models and the cost to repair it. In this way, a classic car is insured more like a piece of art than a normal motor vehicle because its worth is based on whatever buyers are willing to pay.

Also unlike typical car insurance, the maximum payout on an agreed value policy won't decrease over time. Typical cars depreciate in value: A 2010 Toyota Corolla is worth less now than it was in 2015, so the maximum payout you can receive may change, too.

On the other hand, the value of a classic car might stay the same or even increase over the same period: A 1970 Dodge Challenger in good condition might have been worth $30,000 five years ago, and the same amount today. You'll have to manually adjust the coverage amount of your policy based on the changing value of your car.

Other benefits of classic car insurance

The other main benefit of classic car insurance is that these companies specialize in working with rare, collector or antique cars. The agents, adjusters and other staff you'll interact with when you have a classic car policy will be familiar with the ins and outs of a rare car, and more knowledgeable about the needs of a classic car owner.

Further specialized coverages include:

  • Increased replacement cost: If your car increases in value beyond its agreed value, this coverage will pay for the difference.
  • Roadside assistance: Including towing only with a flatbed tow truck to prevent wear and tear while transporting to a repair shop or back home.
  • Auto show medical reimbursement: In case someone sustains an injury at an exhibit or event featuring your car.
  • No attendance required: Provides coverage while you are away from your vehicle as it is being displayed, such as at a car show.
  • Spare parts coverage: Covers damage or theft of spare parts like tires, valves or other gear, as part of a covered incident.
  • Cash settlement option: If your car is totaled or stolen, you can opt to take a cash payment without the requirement that you use it to repair or replace your vehicle.

Classic car insurance companies will also provide the most common car insurance coverages such as liability, personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage, as well as comprehensive and collision coverage.

Drawbacks of a classic car insurance policy

Because classic car insurance is designed for rare or high-value cars, there are some shortcomings compared to buying a policy from a mainstream insurance company. You won't encounter these drawbacks at every classic car insurer, though, so make sure to compare offerings at multiple insurers to find the best one for you.

  • Mileage limits: Many classic car insurers only allow you to drive your car a certain distance each month in order to be eligible.
  • Fewer discounts: Many of the insurers that offer insurance for classic cars are smaller, more niche companies, so you may miss out on discounts for things like bundling policies, having a certain job or using telematics devices.
  • Fewer driving-related coverage options: Classic car insurers might not offer some coverage options available at a larger insurer, such as roadside assistance or extended medical payments coverage.

Eligibility for classic car insurance

Classic car insurance isn't designed for cars you use on a daily basis or run-of-the-mill vehicles like a recent Toyota or Volkswagen. Classic car insurers usually require that there's something special about the vehicle, such as advanced age, high value or some customization.

In general, your car must fall into at least one of the following categories:

  • At least 25 years old
  • Modern muscle car
  • Exotic
  • Modified vehicle

It's also likely that your vehicle will need to meet all of the following requirements in order to qualify:

  • In good condition
  • Parked in a secure and fully enclosed garage, carport, storage facility or other approved structure
  • Not used for daily commuting
  • Not used for racing
  • Driven no more than 7,500 miles per year (varies by insurer)

Driver eligibility

Additionally, there are usually qualifications that you, the owner of the car, must meet. These vary by insurer, but typically you must:

  • Be at least 25 years old
  • Have a good driving record and at least five to 10 years of driving experience
  • Have no more than one at-fault accident or moving violation within the previous three years
  • Own and use another vehicle as your primary automobile driven regularly to and from work, school and other frequent destinations
  • Agree not to race your classic car or drive it on a racetrack

Collectible car types

Classic car insurance is also available for antique, exotic, custom or historic cars, and the benefits and drawbacks tend to be similar, though which types of vehicle are eligible for coverage may vary by provider.

While most collectible automobile insurance policies are relatively similar, the way carriers classify different types of collectible vehicles, including some types they exclude coverage for, is important to understand. Although definitions, years and descriptions can vary from insurer to insurer and state to state, the most common collectible auto categories are below. We generally will use classic and collector car insurance interchangeably for the purposes of simplicity.

  • Classic car insurance: Defined by many companies as being 19 to 24 years old, restored, in good working condition and greater than the average value of other autos of the same make and model year; some insurers consider a car of this description that is only greater than 10 years old to be "classic." The Classic Car Club of America regards classic vehicles to be those manufactured between 1925 and 1948.
  • Antique car insurance: Defined by many companies as being at least 25 years old and in good working original or original restored condition. In some states, an "antique" car only needs to be at least 20 years old, while the Antique Automobile Club of America regards a car that is at least 45 years old to be antique.
  • Modified car insurance: Defined by many companies as being significantly altered in its engine, body, chassis or interior from its original condition, which can negatively or positively change the value; many insurers will not provide collectible coverage for these types of vehicles (for example, an antique car in which much of the stock equipment has been replaced or that runs on nitro fuel).
  • Kit cars and replicas: Defined as representation automobiles that are at least 24 years old with separate manufactured components, or that represent the assembled reproductions of any motor vehicle at least 25 years old.
  • Other subcategories within these four main categories include:
    • Street rods/hot rods made before 1949 and that have been modified
    • Vintage automobiles manufactured between 1919 and 1930 that may or may not have been modified
    • Veteran vehicles made before 1919
    • Rare motorsport vehicles, vintage military vehicles, classic motorcycles, antique tractors and modern limited production models

Insurers for classic cars

Many well-known insurers — including State Farm, Progressive, Farmers, Safeco, Geico and Esurance — as well as specialty carriers (many of which underwrite for the aforementioned companies), like Hagerty, J.C. Taylor, Condon Skelly, Grundy and American National, offer coverage for collectible vehicles. A good place to start your search for the right provider is with your existing auto insurance carrier, which may be able to kick in a discount for insuring multiple vehicles.

See our full breakdown of the best classic car insurers.

Classic car insurers

Insurer
Specialty or major insurer?
American NationalSpecialty
Condon SkellySpecialty
EsuranceMajor insurer
FarmersMajor insurer
GeicoMajor insurer
GrundySpecialty
HagertySpecialty
J.C. TaylorSpecialty
ProgressiveMajor insurer
SafecoMajor insurer
{"alignsHorizontal":["left","left"],"alignsVertical":[],"columnWidths":[],"data":[["Insurer","Specialty or major insurer?"],["American National","Specialty"],["Condon Skelly","Specialty"],["Esurance","Major insurer"],["Farmers","Major insurer"],["Geico","Major insurer"],["Grundy","Specialty"],["Hagerty","Specialty"],["J.C. Taylor","Specialty"],["Progressive","Major insurer"],["Safeco","Major insurer"]],"footnote":"","hasMarginBottom":true,"isExpandable":true,"isSortable":false,"maxWidth":"1215","minWidth":"100%","showSearch":false,"sortColumnIndex":0,"sortDirection":"asc"}

Cost of collector insurance and available discounts

Coverage for collectible vehicles is almost always less expensive than conventional automobile insurance due to the fact that you drive much fewer miles every year and you are likely to keep the vehicle sheltered and in good condition. Nevertheless, the cost of classic or collector insurance is calculated similarly to common auto insurance.

"Collector car insurance is generally very affordable, possibly costing around one-third of what you might pay for regular auto insurance," said Kristofer Kirchen, president of Tampa, Fla.-based Advanced Insurance Managers LLC.

Car insurance discounts available to standard auto policies also apply to collectible car insurance, varying by the insurer. Some circumstances that may allow you to be qualified for a discount include:

  • Have multiple policies with the same carrier
  • Insure more than one classic vehicle
  • Have a clean driving record with no accidents or claims within the past few years
  • Equip your vehicle with an anti-theft device
  • Complete a defensive driver class
  • Select a comprehensive-only policy, which is ideal for owners who plan on only restoring and not driving their automobile

Mark is a Senior Research Analyst for ValuePenguin focusing on the insurance industry, primarily auto insurance. He previously worked in financial risk management at State Street Corporation.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.