Getting Peace of Mind: The Path to Proper Insurance Coverage

W onder what it will cost to insure the 1956 Packard Patrician sedan you are about to acquire? Will it cost more to cover than your 1956 Chevrolet Nomad? Looking ahead, will you be able to afford insurance on a 1966 Thunderbird, the car of your dreams? What about that choice Road Runner your neighbor purchased new and promises to sell to you someday?

    Insurance has become a serious matter, especially since laws generally demand that every motor vehicle be insured.

    Just asking the questions of yourself while sitting in your favorite armchair isn’t going to bring answers. You’ve got to get moving and plan ahead.

    It does not take much effort to secure some answers. With the ease of online shopping, you can check the rates and options offered by various insurance companies, just by doing a Web search or by entering a few names of insurers you see advertised in a publication like Old Cars Weekly. If you prefer the personal touch, pick up the phone and seek the answers. But before you do, realize a few things.

    Be prepared. OK, let’s go back to the opening statement. You have a 1956 Packard in mind. You wish to keep your 1956 Chevrolet Nomad, so by reason of year of manufacture alone, you wonder about consistency of insurance costs. At this point, if there were a buzzer imbedded on this page, you would hear a loud “AAAAAH.” The year does not equal value.

    Here’s the obvious: Vehicles are not categorized by value based merely on age. Your friend’s 1927 Model T Ford may not be nearly as valuable as a 1960 Chevrolet Corvette. That’s because each model has its own collector following and degree of demand. Similarly, a 1937 Pierce-Arrow limousine was very expensive when new and will likely be valued more than a 1937 Plymouth sedan, which was priced much less. Generally, that’s how it works, and insurance companies know it. Granted, there are exceptions, based on rarity and desirability of design. A low-priced convertible may be valued above an expensive limousine, based on demand (and the fact that it takes a larger garage to store the limo).

    Hence, a 1956 Packard Patrician was the highest-priced four-door sedan in the Packard lineup that year. A Chevrolet Nomad sat atop the station wagon price heap for Chevrolet in 1956. While demand for each is high, there are more Chevrolet collectors out there, which has driven collectibility. There is one way to determine this before you call an insurance agent. Value guides (yes, more than one) should be checked to determine the value of each car you must insure. In that way, you will not be prone to buying too much or too little coverage.

    Being prepared before you contact an insurance company for a quote means you should know the vehicle body type, special features or options it has, whether it is a low-mileage car, if it has been restored versus being preserved in original condition, if the production was low and about how many survivors exist. Should the car have had a significant first owner (such as a movie star) or a connection to a rock music personality or famous general, tell the insurance agent. Value guides cannot track such added dimensions. After all, your friend’s 1949 Packard Custom Eight seven-passenger sedan might have been the only one in which President Harry Truman rode to town. How can it be compared in value to other models?

    Rarity may be very important. If the car you own is one of 100 in existence, it might have less value than one of which only three exist. I’m talking about replacement cost. Example: Your 1923 Dorris touring car is one of only three survivors; lots of luck if you crash yours into a wall. You may go begging for 10 years to buy another.

    Know what you can handle with insurance costs. A Ford isn’t simply a Ford. Each model is different. OK, let’s be blunt. Looking at your income level, your financial resources will cover only so much. What can you afford in this hobby? A rare Ford Brewster town car will be worth much more than a common sedan. Expect to pay more insurance for the Brewster. If you aren’t particular about your Ford, then seek the plain-Jane models and stay away from rare and costly offerings. You’ll probably have as much fun at lower insurance cost. That is, unless rarity holds your interest.

    Want to build a collection? You will likely start with one or two cars. How much can you expect to pay on others you add to the lineup? There could be reductions on the premium that you should realize. This could have an influence on your financial ability to insure. It’s not only a matter of buying cars, but there are related costs for storing, upkeep and insurance. Realize your limit.

    As with any car insurance coverage, you may be expected to carry coverage for liability, medical payments, personal injury protection, uninsured motorists coverage and underinsured motorist protection.

    Ultimately, what can you expect? Companies that specialize in collector-car insurance provide competitive rates. Ask friends about their experiences in this realm and how their case was handled when a claim was involved. How were they treated by a company representative? Ask for your friends’ endorsement on the services of a company.

    If you and your insurance company agree that your collector car has a valuation of $60,000, this may translate into a $300 premium. A $13,000 car may cost $65. A $6,000 car may cost $30. Some of this depends on applicable discounts. You may not receive a discount unless you remind the rep.

    When you finally contact an insurance company, ask questions. Is there a declared limit on mileage per year and per car? Is there a good-driver rate? What benefits are derived if you have multiple cars on the same policy? What does it cost for addition drivers on your policy? What about trailering? What about shipping your car for a tour overseas? Are there discounts based on drivers’ ages? If your car is in cold storage and you do not intend to drive it for a couple years, what are your options for a reduced premium? Will this still adequately protect your needs? When will renewal reminders be sent? Should you examine valuations on an annual basis? How easy is it to add a car to the policy in mid-term? If you have more questions, add them to your list. Don’t bombard the representative, but be prepared.

    Safety. Peace of mind. Protection. You can sleep easier if you have your old cars properly insured.

Insurance Companies:

American Collectors Insurance
P.O. Box 8343
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
800-360-2277
www.americancollectors.com

Classic Auto Insurance
8481 Bash St., Ste. 1300
Indianapolis, IN 46250
www.classicins.com

Condon & Skelly
121 E Kings Hwy Ste. 203
Maple Shade, NJ 08052
856-234-3434
www.condonskelly.com

Continental Western Insurance Co.
P.O. Box 500
Luverne, MN 56156
800-533-0303
www.cwgins.com

Grundy Worldwide
400 Horsham Rd.
P.O. Box 1957
Horsham, PA 19044
800-338-4005
www.grundy.com

Hagerty Insurance
141 Rivers Edge Dr., Ste. 200
Traverse City, MI 49684
231-933-3751
www.hagerty.com

Heacock Classic
100 E Main St.
Lakeland, FL 33801
863-683-2228
www.heacockclassic.com

JC Taylor Antique Auto Agency, Inc.
320 S. 69th St.
Upper Darby, PA 19082
800-345-8290
www.jctaylor.com

MK Insurance Agency, Inc.
453 W Fullerton Ave.
Elmhurst, IL 60126
630-617-9970
www.mkinsuranceagency.com

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