Why You Need Specialty Insurance

[Editor's Note: This article was first published in our August 2016 issue. Some information and prices may be different, and sadly, JG's mullet is no more.]

Car enthusiasts will talk about anything automotive. Intake, exhaust, ECU tuning, track days, dealerships, car shows and race tires are all fair game.

Insurance, though? No way.

Asking an enthusiast about insurance is like asking an ice cream man about power outages. We usually believe that car insurance is an unavoidable evil that only serves to cost you money on a good day, and lowball you like a Craigslist buyer when something bad happens to your car.

Believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are special insurance policies just for car enthusiasts, and they cover more while costing less. Yes, you read that correctly: This increased coverage often comes with lower premiums.

5 Reasons You're the Ideal Insurance Customer

None

Before you ask, no, these companies aren’t just looking for Model T owners or senior citizens who no longer drive. They’re looking for you, and here’s why.

1. CLASSIC CARS ARE NEWER THAN EVER
Guess what: Your 1990 Miata is 26 years old. Your E30 BMW? It’s probably 30. Fox-body Mustang? It might be pushing 40. The cars we know and love aren’t getting any younger. And while we aren’t going to lie to you and say that a Subaru WRX is appropriate for a specialty policy, the reality is that lots of the cars we love are.

2. YOU CARE MORE THAN MOST PEOPLE
If you’re reading this magazine, and especially this article, then you probably care about your car more than the average driver does. You probably park out in the boonies to avoid dings. You probably keep your car in tip-top shape. Heck, you can probably list every single blemish (and your plan for fixing it) on command. Guess what? These things make you a lower risk, and insurance companies love low risks.

3. YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT DAILY DRIVER
One of the biggest predictors of risk is miles driven, and most people with an older project car won’t be parking it in the work parking lot every day. As long as you have a different car for daily use, collector car insurance companies will be fine insuring your weekend toy. That doesn’t mean you can never drive it-occasional drives to work, on a date, or even a fun road trip are fine. Just don’t use it to make sales calls every day.

4. GARAGES ARE AWESOME
Owning a project car probably means owning a garage. That’s the holy grail for insurance companies, as garages protect vehicles from many common risks. You’ll be hard pressed to find a collector insurance company that doesn’t specify some type of covered storage in their policies, but odds are you already keep your car in a dry place without getting any discount for it.

5. RACE CARS AREN’T THAT RISKY
Odds are good that your current insurance company hates racing. And why wouldn’t it-race cars just crash, right? Actually, they don’t. Since they spend 99 percent of their time in a garage or on a trailer, track cars lead relatively low-risk existences. That’s why almost every specialty insurer loves them. True, very few companies will cover a car while it’s on track, but they’ll insure it the rest of the time for cheap.

4 Ways Specialty Insurers Can Make Your Life Easier

None

We know what you’re thinking: “Cool, so they’ll cover me. But what’s the point of switching?” Choosing an insurer with an awareness of the enthusiast scene comes with several perks.

1. A VALUATION YOU CAN AGREE ON
There’s a type of policy called an agreed value policy. It’s what 99 percent of specialty insurers write, and it leaves the insured fairly covered.

Basically, when you sign up, you’ll tell the company what you think your car is worth. They’ll double-check that you’re in the ballpark, then write that number on top of your policy. If your car is ever totaled, you’ll get a check for that amount. No haggling, no back and forth, just a check for the value of your car. Anybody who’s ever had to convince a traditional insurance company that their BMW M3 isn’t just a normal 3 Series will see the value here.

2. FAIR REPAIRS
Specialty insurers are usually much, much better at fixing your car than the average company. Most educate their claims representatives about cars. That may not sound like a big deal-they’re going to write a check either way, right?

Actually, it can be a huge help. Try convincing the average agent that your Toyota MR2 is mid-engined, so it really does need a new intake after getting rear-ended. Some specialty companies will even let you fix your car yourself, and pay you a fair hourly wage while you’re doing so. They’ll even cover the cost of any spare parts you use from your stockpile.

3. BONUS BENEFITS AND CAR BABYING
Most specialty insurance policies come with additional benefits, like coverage for spare parts and tools, roadside assistance that guarantees a flatbed with soft straps, or a parts concierge service that will help you find that one-year-only trim piece, even if you didn’t get in an accident.

4. THAT BOTTOM LINE
Finally, these specialty policies are way, way less expensive. Because specialty insurers only insure the cream of the crop, you don’t have to pay for that one guy who backs his Camry into a mailbox every week.

Though every driver, car and ZIP code combination will receive a different rate, we quoted a 32-year-old male who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and has a 1985 Toyota MR2 that he thinks is worth $5000. For an agreed value plan with high limits, no deductible, spare parts coverage, and 15 miles of roadside assistance, our hypothetical guy would pay just $148.40 per year. We then quoted the same scenario with a major insurer and got a yearly rate of $1004.78 for less coverage.

3 Tips for Making the Switch

None

Ready to sign on with a specialty insurance provider? Great, just give your company of choice a call and start talking.

1. TALK TO A PERSON
Notice that we said to “call” a company, not “punch numbers into a website.” Most of the cars in this magazine are on the line between classic and just plain old, and the decision to insure you may not be obvious. If that’s the case, talking about your ownership style can help your cause.

2. TALK YOURSELF UP
Make sure you clearly communicate that you use your car like the classic that it is, not just like an old beater. It can also help to explain how you’ve restored it, are constantly working on it, and love it like a child. And be nice and friendly, too-insurance agents are people just like you.

3. FIND YOUR BEST FIT
Can’t get coverage through one company? Don’t be afraid to call around. Some companies prefer different types of cars and uses, so finding a good fit may take a few tries. A big agency may be able to help, too, as some could have arrangements with a specialty company or provide similar plans themselves.

Sources

Chubb Collector Car 
chubbcollectorcar.com
(866) 227-9648

Classic Collectors 
classiccollectors.com
(800) 225-8930

Grundy Worldwide 
grundyworldwide.com
(866) 6-GRUNDY

Hagerty 
hagerty.com
(877) 922-9701

Heacock Classic 
heacockclassic.com
(800)678-5173

J.C. Taylor Insurance 
jctaylor.com
(800) 345-8290

K&K Insurance 
kandkinsurance.com
(800)348-1839

Leland West
lelandwest.com
(800) 237-4722

OnTracklnsurance.com 
ontrackinsurance.com
(866) 638-0505

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Comments
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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/25/16 3:50 p.m.

Not saying it because I was there, but I love this photo of JG.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
8/31/16 1:29 p.m.

Is that what he was like when you found him?

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/31/16 1:51 p.m.
Tom Suddard wrote: Is that what he was like when you found him?

Actually, a bit of prep and planning went into that image. It's not like JG can grow a mullet overnight.

Marjorie Suddard
Marjorie Suddard General Manager
8/31/16 2:08 p.m.

And for the record, JG found us.

Margie

Stefan (Not Bruce)
Stefan (Not Bruce) MegaDork
8/31/16 2:14 p.m.
Marjorie Suddard wrote: And for the record, JG was left in our car after a trip to the Piggly Wiggly. Margie

FTFY

keethrax
keethrax Dork
8/31/16 3:01 p.m.
David S. Wallens wrote: It's not like JG can grow a mullet overnight.

Some say...

Rupert
Rupert Dork
9/7/16 7:42 p.m.

I'm happy to say, many,if not most, of the rules for specialty car insurance people tend to believe and worry about are false! The bottom line and, most importantly, you must prove this isn't your daily driver!

In my case a 2002 NB Miata LS and a 1986 MB 560SL are both insured and equally eligible for specialty insurance. Why?

First off, they're the third or fourth cars out of our garage in a two car driver family!

Second, since we're retired, neither of us need either of them or any other ride to commute.

Third, as mentioned, all our rides are housed in a locked garage!

Yes, in this case I also receive a discount based upon my statement I won't drive either specialty car over 6,000 miles a year. However, there is nothing to say I can't go shopping or traveling as long as I don't drive more than my 6,000 mile per car limit. And since I have two other cars as my daily drivers, that has zero chance of happening anyway!

wlkelley3
wlkelley3 UltraDork
9/7/16 9:26 p.m.

Need to look into that for my Miata. Its main purpose is an autocross car, I drive it to and from local events and rarely other time. It's not a daily, just one of my extras. Have specialty insurance on my 70 Opel GT and I seem to drive it more than the Miata. Opel gets driven about 3 times a month and the Miata gets driven once or twice a month.

icaneat50eggs
icaneat50eggs Dork
9/8/16 5:26 a.m.
jj
jj HalfDork
9/9/16 9:05 a.m.

I like the car in the pic. Didn't GRM have an old project car like that? The link is gone from project cars page.

Rupert
Rupert Dork
9/9/16 3:46 p.m.
wlkelley3 wrote: Need to look into that for my Miata. Its main purpose is an autocross car, I drive it to and from local events and rarely other time. It's not a daily, just one of my extras. Have specialty insurance on my 70 Opel GT and I seem to drive it more than the Miata. Opel gets driven about 3 times a month and the Miata gets driven once or twice a month.

Good idea! BTW: Point #1 is this article is among those incorrect things many believe about Specialty insurance!! If you provide documentation, inspections, etc. to prove it's value your ride can and will be insured by a specialty insurance group even though it is much less than the commonly believed standard of 25 years old.

As I said, my Miata is a 2002 now probably considered 15 years old, and it has exactly the same coverage and is insured at the same rate per thousand dollars of stated value as the stated value of the Merc.

Just because your ride isn't 25 years old doesn't mean you can't get Specialty Car Insurance. It just means you have have to dig a little deeper, provide more justification, and allow your ride to be inspected to justify your "stated value!" That insurance is out there! You probably already have done what is needed to be done to justify your car's value. Now you just need to go that extra mile and prove it!

Believe me, the insurance cost savings and insurance value in case of a "total" more than justify your efforts!!

loumash
loumash New Reader
9/11/16 1:53 a.m.

Good timing. I just signed up for coverage with Hagerty on my E36M3 and 87 Mustang LX 5.0. I'm saving $1000 and the mustang had liability coverage only before. I'm very happy so far.

Scott_H
Scott_H Reader
9/11/16 10:24 a.m.

And don't think that State Farm's "declared value" is the same as the specialty insurance company's "agreed value". VERY different and you will likely not get what you think you would in a total loss. Total loss claim are pretty rare so there is not much out there on the differences.

BTW, I remember reading that the number one claim for specialty insurance policies on classics is for roadside assistance (towing). Whodathunk

Rupert
Rupert Dork
10/5/16 7:26 p.m.
Scott_H wrote: And don't think that State Farm's "declared value" is the same as the specialty insurance company's "agreed value". VERY different and you will likely not get what you think you would in a total loss. Total loss claim are pretty rare so there is not much out there on the differences. BTW, I remember reading that the number one claim for specialty insurance policies on classics is for roadside assistance (towing). Whodathunk

Funny you'd mention that. Aside from the thousands I save having my Miata and my Merc. both insured at the same specialty car rate. And the fact that each will be reimbursed at 100% of their stated value in the case of a total loss.

Both cars are also covered for not only breakdown but also "specialty car" towing. They are also insured 100% for any spare parts carried in the vehicle and also the cost of lodging required if either car fails on the road far from home!

sesto elemento
sesto elemento SuperDork
10/5/16 7:28 p.m.

Talk to Steve Katz at on track insurance. He's a super good guy and one of us.

Groats
Groats New Reader
10/10/16 3:03 p.m.

Tried to insure the Miata with Hagerty. They seemed ok with it, but they said that if you are married then you have to have two cars on regular insurance before they will insure your "classic" car. I was hoping this would be a way to get around the exorbitant insurance rates in this area, but no go. Maybe I just need to get a third car instead... at least it would be a lot cheaper to insure through them.

Argo1
Argo1 SuperDork
12/14/16 10:53 p.m.

Tried to insure my Quattroporte with Hagerty. Everything was going great until I said that I only used the car for Sunday drives, Cars and Coffee, and an occasional trip. "Trip?" he said, "You mean like overnight?" "Oh we can't do that. It has to be in your garage each night or at a recognized car show."

wspohn
wspohn HalfDork
12/15/16 10:19 a.m.

Timely post as British Columbia has recently announced that cars over $150,000 (around $112,000 US currently) will no longer be covered by the provincial insurance program and will have to seek private insurance.

Previously, my old Lamborghini cost less to insure than my newer cars!

They estimate that there are 3,000+ cars in the province in the high value category and that they cost an average of 6 times as much as a cheaper car to fix.

Given that many of the high dollar cars are types that are more likely to be damaged (record claim so far was around $94,000 to fix a 2015 McLaren someone managed to stuff, they are probably being fiscally responsible, though I doubt we'll ever see rates drop for 'normal' cars.

WhiteZombie
WhiteZombie New Reader
3/5/17 2:57 p.m.

Anybody have any suggestions what order to call the above listed companies in for a 20 year old garaged track rat that sees less than 3k street miles a year? Geico liability costs me about $60 a month currently. No idea if I'd find a better deal anyway?

glueguy
glueguy HalfDork
3/5/17 9:26 p.m.

WhiteZombie, will pm you

WhiteZombie
WhiteZombie New Reader
3/13/17 10:17 p.m.

In reply to glueguy:

Cool! Not sure if you have PMd yet or not. I can't seem to figure out how to find any kind of PM folder anywhere!

patgizz
patgizz UltimaDork
3/14/17 9:51 a.m.

i got a quote from hagerty of $838 for 5 vehicles. going to see what i'm paying state farm right now on those but i know i'm paying $440 a year on just the datsun and was told the replacement value is $2400

once i get all my stuff figured out i was going to contact glueguy's wife as well (can you pm me her email address to forward stuff to?)

java230
java230 SuperDork
3/14/17 11:01 a.m.
glueguy wrote: WhiteZombie, will pm you

Sounds like your the local GRM weird insurance guy. Will you send me a message as well? I have a weird truck needing insurance...

glueguy
glueguy HalfDork
3/14/17 11:28 a.m.
WhiteZombie wrote: In reply to glueguy: Cool! Not sure if you have PMd yet or not. I can't seem to figure out how to find any kind of PM folder anywhere!

I sent it to the email address that routes from the "Contact" button when I click on your profile. I know mine routes to the right spot so do the same for me (click on glueguy in the header and then contact) and send me a good email address and I'll respond.

glueguy
glueguy HalfDork
3/14/17 11:36 a.m.
patgizz wrote: i got a quote from hagerty of $838 for 5 vehicles. going to see what i'm paying state farm right now on those but i know i'm paying $440 a year on just the datsun and was told the replacement value is $2400 once i get all my stuff figured out i was going to contact glueguy's wife as well (can you pm me her email address to forward stuff to?)

pm sent

glueguy
glueguy HalfDork
3/14/17 11:39 a.m.
java230 wrote:
glueguy wrote: WhiteZombie, will pm you

Sounds like your the local GRM weird insurance guy. Will you send me a message as well? I have a weird truck needing insurance...

pm sent

WhiteZombie
WhiteZombie New Reader
3/21/17 11:06 p.m.

In reply to glueguy:

Cool! I just checked my junk mail, saw your email, and replied to the address you had listed in the text.
Look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks! -Brian

Fuelrush
Fuelrush New Reader
3/27/17 7:06 p.m.

I have a need for insurance. I have a Exige, Exocet on the way, and a 16 diesel 3500. The two barely move as we have two other dailys. When its time to add the Exocet that will be 3 barely moving cars. Statefarm is charging me high dollar for these two. I hope to change for sure before to long. Not sure where to start looking.

glueguy
glueguy HalfDork
4/11/17 6:13 p.m.

Fuelrush, sent you a pm. Contact me if you don't get it.

Javelin
Javelin MegaDork
4/11/17 6:27 p.m.

It costs me $383/year to have Hagerty agreed-value on the Cobra for $11,500. I added a track day policy for the Track Night in America event I'm going to for $102 to cover it on-track. When the car got hit last year I had a check in less than 48 hours. When the frame shop found additional damage, they got that covered in less than 24, no arguments. I can't recommend them enough.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett UltimaDork
4/11/17 6:37 p.m.

I tried Hagerty for the Vette, but they wouldn't insure it. Despite the fact I work from home & SWMBO works a mile away they still required I have a 2nd vehicle. It's a shame as I'd love to give them a chance.

Dirtydog
Dirtydog New Reader
4/11/17 6:53 p.m.

Check your regular insurance carrier. I got a better deal on my car, than all the others. A problem with specialty insurance is if you have driving age kids. My youngest is 24 has her own car/insurance, would not do it.

aussiesmg
aussiesmg MegaDork
4/11/17 8:48 p.m.

Interested for the 996TT and others as they become road ready. PM requested.

glueguy
glueguy HalfDork
4/11/17 8:56 p.m.
Pete Gossett wrote: I tried Hagerty for the Vette, but they wouldn't insure it. Despite the fact I work from home & SWMBO works a mile away they still required I have a 2nd vehicle. It's a shame as I'd love to give them a chance.

Yep, it's a bad deal. One of the key aspects to specialty insurance is that the car can't be considered primary transportation, so they all (that I know) require proof of one daily per driver in the house.

glueguy
glueguy HalfDork
4/11/17 8:58 p.m.
Dirtydog wrote: Check your regular insurance carrier. I got a better deal on my car, than all the others. A problem with specialty insurance is if you have driving age kids. My youngest is 24 has her own car/insurance, would not do it.

You should be able to exclude them. This isn't uncommon, and we do it for our own cars. Our teens can't drive them.

Rumnhammer
Rumnhammer Reader
4/12/17 9:43 a.m.

I just put my 94 Miata on specialty insurance with Grundy. Coming from state farm where I was paying $58 a month for a car that is a serious garage queen. With Grundy I'm now paying $10 a month this is for $7000 claimed value. The other good thing is that they expect a car like this to be modified and you can insure it as such. They also let you pick how much mileage you put on it a year. Only thing is as others have stated you need to prove the other licenced drivers in the house have a daily. The only other thing I don't like is that you can't use it for timed events so no Autocross, hill climbs etc. Even though the risk of damage is very slight in autocross. But I now have a full years coverage for $124.....so that is a good thing.

Kreb
Kreb UltraDork
4/12/17 10:02 a.m.

The Grundy policy sounds like a good thing. I imagine that you can still run those events. They just won't take your call when you run it into a barrier.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
4/12/17 11:25 a.m.

I actually put the 1991 Isuzu Trooper on my Hagerty policy, too, to complement the 1985 Toyota MR2 and the 1987 Mercedes-Benz 300SDL.

Do you think they know how weird I am?

jere
jere HalfDork
6/1/17 2:42 p.m.

I'm bored to tears before I read articles about car insurance... But that picture hooked me, its pure perfection. Solid article sounds almost too good to be true... Ya know because insurance companies NOT screwing people over for things that are common sense is crazy talk!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/1/17 2:49 p.m.
jere wrote: I'm bored to tears before I read articles about car insurance... But that picture hooked me, its pure perfection. Solid article sounds almost too good to be true... Ya know because insurance companies NOT screwing people over for things that are common sense is crazy talk!

Glad the photo worked! And hopefully you saved 15% or more.

I admit, I racked my brain trying to think of a good lede. Wrecked car? Too easy. JG with his Mustang? Perfect.

Jaynen
Jaynen SuperDork
6/1/17 2:52 p.m.

So these are only good ideas if you have more vehicles than drivers and vehicles that are not your primary? So if my primary WAS also the vehicle I thought was special enough I would have to find a reason they would want to insure it?

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
6/5/17 9:25 a.m.

Correct, you won't have much luck trying to get specialty insurance on your daily driver.

spacecadet
spacecadet Dork
10/14/19 10:08 p.m.

I saw this photo drop on FB earlier and my first thought was that JG looks like he's about to drop the hottest Southern Rock album of 1990 in this photo. 

engiekev
engiekev Reader
10/15/19 11:44 a.m.

My experience with collector car insurance, don't bother with Hagerty.

Hagerty is far too picky on car eligbility, has extremely high prices compared to a lot of other classic insurerers, and doesn't offer much more in terms of services.  

One example, tried to insure Mitsubishi Galant VR4 (limited production, even is a numbered chassis) and was told it was not covered.  But a Mitsubishi Eclipse / Eagle Talon is eligible, what is the logic in that?  They are really struggling to catch up to the new collector car market of 80's 90's vehicles, though I guess they are making an effort.

I'll be going with Grundy from now on, far better prices and a lot easier to deal with!

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
10/15/19 5:07 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:
 It's not like JG can grow a mullet overnight.

I am sorry, but that is a candidate for "Say what?" if I ever saw one

Strizzo
Strizzo PowerDork
10/15/19 11:55 p.m.

FWIW, for our 66 mustang, a classic car agreed value, limited mileage policy through safeco was cheaper than hagerty by about two thirds, for a higher agreed value and more miles per year. 

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