The Chicago Tribune Touts Specialty Car Insurance

Chicago Tribune has an interesting article on the value of researching car insurance for your classic car.  They reinforce that specialty insurance companies like Heacock can save the owner of a classic car hundreds of dollars over using a traditional insurance company.  By knowing what to look for you can choose the best coverage for your car and your situation:

Got a vintage car — a 1960s-era Mustang or a gull-wing Mercedes? You could be paying too much to insure it.

Roughly half of collectible-car owners put their vehicles on a standard auto insurance policy, said Ford Heacock III, CEO of Heacock Classic, an insurer of antique and collectible cars.

And that could be costing them money.

Traditional insurance is based on the notion that a car’s value will decrease. But a collectible is likely to appreciate, especially if you’re restoring it.

When buying coverage for a collectible, which is offered by dozens of specialized companies, you and the insurer agree to the replacement value, a price based on your assessment of its value and the price comparables have brought at auction and in collector’s sales. If the car is destroyed, you’ll get that agreed-to value.

And, despite higher replacement costs, premiums are lower for the simple reason that collectible cars are pampered (and driven infrequently).

“At the heart of insuring classic cars is the idea that this is your baby, and you are not going to do anything to hurt it,” said Candysse Miller, executive director of the Insurance Information Network of California and an avowed car buff.

How much cheaper is classic car insurance? The answer varies based on the insurer and vehicle.

A State Farm spokesman said it might cost $470 annually to cover a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro with a traditional policy, with a lot of caveats. (Specifically, the driver had 30 years of experience, multiple discounts and a perfect driving record.)

State Farm would cut that by about 20 percent, to $380, if you mentioned it was a collectible car and you planned to drive it mainly to shows, said State Farm spokesman Bob Devereux.

Heacock’s company would charge about $290, without inquiring about your driving record.

Why? Because State Farm uses dozens of factors to price your policy, while Heacock looks mainly at the car’s value and how it is going to be used. Heacock said that if you’re driving it solely in parades and to and from shows, the chance of getting T-boned or slamming into another driver is slim.

But there are restrictions. Heacock doesn’t cover drivers younger than 30. The car can’t be driven more than 5,000 miles a year, and it must be garaged.

“We’re not looking to insure your second car,” Heacock said. “We’re only interested in insuring cars that are getting some extra attention.”

And the insured car needn’t be an expensive antique. If a car draws enthusiasts and is driven like a collectible, it probably can be insured like one, said Miller of the Insurance Information Network.

The Chevrolet Impala you had in college could qualify, as could Grandma’s Morris Minor or a late-model Ferrari, Lamborghini or Corvette.

This is a highly specialized niche market, Miller noted. Some companies specialize in antiques, some in muscle or race cars, others in classics.

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