Americans have had a love affair with their cars since the first automobiles rolled off the assembly line…..we love to drive, we love to accessorize, we want to show them off, and we form an emotional bond with our cars that grows with age. It’s this love affair with the automobile that makes classic cars a connection to our own past and therefore something to be well maintained and protected.
Aside from the required liability coverage to drive them on the road, there is a coverage for what happens when one of our classics is damaged, but this coverage doesn’t work the same as the comprehensive or collision coverage you might have on a 5 year old…..or 15 year old for that matter……Ford Taurus.
Cars become classics in most states and cases when they turn 20, which is about 3 times the average years of ownership for a car. A number of things have happened in those 20 years, some of which are very pertinent to insurance coverage for loss or damage.
The first is that there just aren’t that many out there like yours anymore. There are still a few 1991 Dodge Dakota’s out there on the road, in various configurations and trim levels, so if yours was stolen, there’s a fair chance you could find a replacement with a little bit of shopping and a willingness to drive a little out of your way to get it. If you were cruising around in your mint condition 1991 Toyota Supra, on the other hand, and someone stole it while you were at Caribou, according to Edmunds.com, there isn’t one of those for sale within 500 miles of my office.
Odds are, though, that there just isn’t replacing either one of those vehicles if you’ve owned it since it was three years old and you’d lovingly fixed it after you got your first job out of college even though it cost three times as much to fix as it was worth…….because you’ve got history with that car. This is issue number two; you cannot insure emotional attachment. Even if the insurance company writes you a check large enough to buy another car almost like yours, it’s just not the same, and the check is never as much as anyone thinks their classic is truly worth because we value emotional attachment very highly.
Last, and most troublesome to insurance, is those cases where the car is only damaged. Someone backs into it and dents the door, or you have a minor collision with a low flying turkey. The car isn’t totaled but you can’t just go down to O’Reilly’s and order a new hood for your car. That model went through five revisions and overhauls after yours…..and then it was discontinued altogether. Parts are not available readily, nor are they priced like auto parts for your daily driver.
All these things together mean that once a car is a classic that it needs to be insured differently which is why there are a few options for insuring classic cars based on what you have and how you drive it.
For the business owner who had his business information wrapped on a 1958 Ford pickup as a unique business vehicle, there is a need for coverage that will insure him for daily driving at least during the spring, summer, and fall. This coverage is typically written just like your personal auto coverage except that the value of the car and the parts can’t be calculated like a normal vehicle so there is an agreed value that is calculated that you and the insurance company believe to be the fair value of your truck. This is the most that will be paid out to fix or replace the truck if something were to happen. Other than that, the coverage is the same as what you would find on your 2012 F150.
The owner of a true collectable, though, has different driving habits and has invested in his car very differently than the person who wants a unique daily driver. Collectables are usually restored with original parts to original specifications. Attention is paid to things like matching serial numbers, and every effort is made to preserve the car just as it was when it rolled off the line. These cars are driven rarely, usually to shows or up to the local DQ on a Sunday night in the summer, and they are frequently trailered anyplace that isn’t a short trip on low speed limit roads. Coverage for these cars takes into account all of the things that you have done to restore and maintain the vehicle when calculating the agreed value. However the coverage also recognizes that this car rarely leaves the garage and not for long trips ever, so the coverage can usually be purchased for just a couple hundred dollars a year.
For each classic car owner and their vintage auto, though, there is a special set of needs and circumstances, and it is important to find an agent who understands what you need and where to obtain that coverage so that if something does happen to your pride and joy, that your insurance coverage can do it’s very best to make you whole again.
This post was written by Aaron Nicklay, Agent with Farmer’s Insurance. For more information on this topic and more and how Aaron can help protect you or your business, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (952) 229-5155.