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    Hot Rod Tech and Tools Main Page

    Insuring Your Hot Rod or Vintage Car

    See Also: State DMV, Title and Registration Information

    There are all sorts of myths and rumors about insuring vintage cars: you can use normal auto insurance, you have to have an appraisal, if anything is modified you can't insure it. Sorting out the truths and misconceptions can be worse than being caught in a rainstorm with a convertible top that won't cooperate.

    The reality is, whether your collector car is a hot rod you keep in storage, or one you actually drive from time to time, you need to insure it to protect the investment, and to protect yourself if you do take it onto the street.

    Here are five things you need to know before you go searching for insurance quotes:

    1. Standard auto insurance coverage is not enough.

    If you aren't concerned with the value of your vehicle, and just want enough coverage to protect you from theft and keep your vehicle street-legal, you can get away with adding your vintage ride to a regular auto insurance policy, but you'll be better served by asking your insurance agent to refer you to a company that handles special collector car policies. These policies generally pay an agreed amount for a total loss, rather than the cash value paid with conventional insurance, and that agreed amount can be the full insured value of the car, less any deductibles. Even better, the deductible for a collector car policy is oftennothing.

    1. Collector Car policies are neither expensive nor substandard.

    Actually, when it comes to insuring your vintage hot-rod, or any other antique car, you're likely to find that a specific collector car policy is less expensive than bundling your specialty vehicle with the family SUV.

    The reason such policies cost less has nothing to do with the standard of coverage, either. Such policies are less expensive because collector cars pose less of a risk to the insurance company. Unlike your family car, the hotrod you spend hours tuning isn't likely to be driving every day, or on busy city streets, but on a limited basis on tracks or in less crowded environs. Insurance companies know this, so tailor their product to serve your niche.

    The collector car niche isn't a small one, either. Analysts estimate that there are roughly 14 million cars from before 1976 still in operation, about half of which can be considered "collectible." Of the rest, the estimate puts about half in standard auto policies, not because such policies are better or cheaper, but because their owners are unaware of other options.

    1. You do not have to be in the car for insurance to be valid.

    There's a popular myth propagated by an insurance ad that depicts a vintage car owner having his claim denied because he wasn't in the car when it was damaged. This is grossly untrue.

    What is true, however, is that there are some guidelines in place to assure that collector car policies cover vehicles that really are treated like prized possessions. They include:

      • The policy holder must also own at least one passenger car, and in some cases there must be a conventional car for each licensed driver in the household.

      • Usage is limited to pleasure drives and hobby activities (car shows, etc.)

      • The car must be stored in a garage when not in use.

      • The owner must have a good driving record

      • The owner should have at least ten years of driving experience

    1. Your car does not have to be an actual antique to qualify for a collector policy.

    With the exception of Massachusetts, where vintage cars have to be at least twenty-five years old (the defining age for an "antique" car), it is possible to get collector car coverage for a models that are as new as fifteen years old, but such vehicles must be among the list of acceptable options, which includes street rods, classic cars, muscle cars, vintage motorcycles, and certain collector vehicles from the 1980's. Generally speaking, however, getting collector coverage will be easier if the car really is a certifiable antique, 25 years old or older.

    1. Appraisals are not always required.

    Generally speaking, there are very few hoops one must jump through in order to insure a vintage hotrod, or any other collectible car. With most insurance companies, appraisals are not required unless the car in question is either heavily modified, unusually expensive, or extremely rare, but the insurer does have the right to request one.

    Normal application requirements generally include:

      • Confirmation that the car is stored in a garage when not in use

      • Confirmation that the car is driven on a limited, for-pleasure basis

      • Recent photos of the vehicle

      • Itemization of any major modifications

      • Payment of the premium

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