When it comes to vintage cars, collectors draw pretty significant distinctions between terms like classic, antique, vintage or historic. These definitions typically vary based on the manufacturing year of the vehicle as well as the degree of modification that’s permissible. Fortunately for owners, insurance companies won’t focus on those distinctions when you’re shopping for classic or antique car insurance.
Because definitions vary widely and registration requirements are inconsistent state to state (many states offer some form of historic vehicle registration once a vehicle is more than 20 or 25 years old), it’s tough to do a full accounting of vintage or historic vehicles on the roads (or in the showrooms) today. Some industry estimates put that number around 1-2%, which could mean upwards of 5 million vintage cars in circulation.
All those cars need to be insured. Unfortunately, your typical auto insurance policy is ill-equipped to appropriately cover unique, expensive, or difficult-to-appraise classics. That’s where classic or antique car insurance comes into play.
With a standard auto insurance policy, coverage for damaged vehicles is determined based on appraised values and repair estimates. That’s not the case with antique car insurance; most policies that are designed specifically for more exotic vehicles are based on a value agreed upon between the vehicle owner and the insurer.
The vehicles are unique, so why shouldn’t the policies be?
The coverage needs will be very different for someone looking to insure a brand-new Bugatti that is only used on the track vs. someone that periodically drives a restored vintage firetruck in a local parade. The agreed upon value for coverage also allows owners to price in their own ability to do restoration work or costs that might come from difficult-to-secure parts that may require custom fabrication.
If antique car insurance policies can vary so much by insured vehicle, how do you know whether your vehicle is eligible?
The one common requirement of major and specialty insurers that offer antique car insurance policies is that the vehicle you’re insuring can’t be used as your primary transportation. Hagerty, a specialty insurance provider that covers over 1.9 million vehicles, estimates that you can cut premiums by roughly one-third by using an antique car insurance policy instead of covering a collectible vehicle with your normal insurance policy.
Those estimates should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, if you’re looking for a specialty policy to cover a multi-million-dollar classic, it would likely fall outside the scope of most normal policy coverage limits.
What Vehicles Can be Covered by Antique Car Insurance?
- Classic cars that are at least 25 years old
- Newer exotic cars
- Replicas or reproductions that have cultural or historical significance
- Restored military vehicles
- Classic special-purpose vehicles like firetrucks, hearses, or ambulances
Remember, the most important two aspects of antique car insurance are that your daily driver or business vehicle is not eligible, and your coverage is negotiated directly with the insurer.
Other aspects of these policies, like mileage limits, storage requirements and additional perks (such as specialty road-side assistance) will vary by insurer and policy.
If you have a vintage vehicle that might fall under those categories and you’re looking to either save on your insurance costs or right-size your coverage, you may want to start by reaching out to your current insurance provider to see if they offer those policies. If they don’t, you can find antique car insurance with big providers like GEICO and specialty insurers like Hagerty, as mentioned above.
Have you previously shopped for specialty insurance for collectibles or classic cars? How was your experience?