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The Chicago Tribune Touts Specialty Car Insurance

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

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.

Classic Car Insurance in Five Easy Steps

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

1. Review the valuation clause. There are three different ways to determine the value used on classic car insurance: the stated value, the agreed value and the actual cash value. Discuss the differences with your insurance agent to determine which valuation best suits your car.

2. Determine the terms of usage. If your insurance company will only cover your classic car on the way to and from car shows, a fun ride to get ice cream may not be covered.

3. Review the garaging requirements. Many policies require classic cars to be garaged within a structure. If you park your vehicle in an open driveway, you need to have the garaging clause amended to make sure your car is adequately covered.

4. Calculate the deductible. Depending on the plan you choose, your classic car insurance policy may not have a deductible. If you do have a deductible, talk with your agent to see if it can be removed.

5. Shop around for the best price. If the previous steps have yielded the coverage you want for your classic car, the only thing left to do is to get the coverages for the best price possible.

Demand for an iPhone VIN Decoder for Classic Cars

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

For those that don’t know I’m releasing a VIN decoder for modern vehicles that will be available initially for the iPhone and iPod Touch.  The app will allow you to enter a VIN and decode the informationed contained in it to reveal facts about the vehicle.  It’s also tied into the CARFAX vehicle history service to provide detailed reports on any vehicle made after 1981.

My question to the general audience is if there is any interest in a similar app for classic and collector vehicles.  It would be a database of information specifically on the classic car market, designed for collectors, auction-goers, and general car show fans.  Let me know what you think…

iPhone VIN Decoder

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Find iPhone apps at AppStoreHQ

VIN Hunter ( is launching a new iPhone VIN decoder and vehicle history app.  This thing looks awesome, I’ve been playing with it for several days.  Easy to use and able to lookup over 150,000 vehicle models!  Check CARFAX reports and stolen vehicle lists.  A great tool for anyone shopping for a car or truck.

Ask ’em to make a classic car version! 🙂