If you're the proud owner of a vintage, classic, antique, or collector car, then I'm willing to bet you put a lot of effort into making sure it stays in great shape. Protecting the car you lovingly preserved or restored means more than just performing regular maintenance and keeping it clean and waxed. It also means making sure you have the right insurance coverage for it.
What kind of insurance do you need when your car is more than just a car? This article will explore the types of coverage you might need and what you should look for when reviewing your options.
Know Your Car Classification
To know what kind of coverage might be available to you, you first need to figure out how insurance companies will classify your car. You've probably noticed that not every automobile club uses the same definitions, so it won't surprise you to find out that insurers are the same. But, in most cases, the different vehicle types are defined as follows:
- Classic Automobile: 10 to 25 years old (depending on the definition) and of rare or historical interest due to fine workmanship or limited production
- Antique Automobile: A classic car that is at least 25 to 50 years old (depending on the exact definition)
- Vintage Automobile: A car manufactured between 1919 and 1930, or, in some cases, between 1919 and 1925
- Collector Automobile: A car manufactured in 1980 or later that is of rare or historical interest due to fine workmanship or limited production
In all of these cases, the car will only meet the definition if it is well maintained and has not been substantially altered from its original manufactured state.
If you're not sure whether your 25 year old car falls into the classic or antique category, or whether your 1994 model is a classic or collector automobile, get in touch with a local insurance agent or broker. They'll be able to tell you how the insurance companies in your area classify your vehicle .
So, just what kind of coverage will you need? As a general rule, you should start with all the usual coverage offered by an auto insurance policy, including:
- Medical payments
- Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (learn more about uninsured motorist coverage)
- Fire, theft, and vandalism
But beyond this, it will depend on how you use your car. Some insurers will only offer special coverage to vintage cars that are well maintained and used only on an extremely limited basis. If you take it out of the garage for exhibitions, car shows, parades, and maybe the occasional Sunday drive, you might be eligible. But if it's how you get to work every morning, you might not qualify.
With that in mind, here are some of the options that you might be able to choose from.
Original Replacement Parts
Getting the right replacement part for your vintage or antique car can be expensive. A few insurers have "original replacement parts" coverage and will do their best to help you obtain the parts you need when you need a replacement due to a collision or plain old wear and tear.
Some people will want to use their collector or classic car for their regular commute. Many insurers will not cover this, but some will offer mileage plans that you an select from. If you almost never take the car out for a spin, this will save you some money. But, for a higher premium, you can drive it on a regular basis without voiding your insurance protection.
Now, maybe your vintage car isn't really a car at all. Some companies will not insure your vehicle if it's a classic military vehicle, an old fire truck, or a vintage motorcycle (learn about the Best Insurance Options for Storing Your Motorcycle for the Winter). But if you're turned down by your insurer, don't give up hope. Enlist an agent or broker to help you find a company that will give you the coverage you're looking for.
Currently Undergoing Restoration
If you just got your hands on a vintage vehicle, it might not meet the "well maintained" requirement yet. If you're still in the process of restoring it, an insurer might turn you down. But, again, don't give up hope. There are options out there.
You might not need the usual auto coverage when the car is undergoing restoration, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get any insurance at all. Chances are you spent quite a bit of money acquiring your vehicle and put a lot of effort into fixing it up, so make sure it's covered for things such as theft, vandalism, and fire (see these 9 Ways to Keep Your Car From Being Stolen for related advice).
Some insurers want to set a fixed value on the vehicle and that’s that. But others offer coverage that includes automatic inflation in the agreed-upon value of the vehicle.
The Bottom Line
There are definitely insurance policies available for your vintage car. But the prices and coverage will vary significantly from insurer to insurer. Don't just buy the first policy that falls into your lap. Shop around and make sure you're getting all the coverage you want at a price you can manage (see The Ultimate Guide to Auto Insurance to learn more).