Hagerty insurance co-founder Frank Hagerty passes away at 79

Angelo Van Bogart |

Frank Hagerty impacted the classic wooden boat, car hobbies

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (March 19, 2014) – Hagerty announced today that co-founder Frank Hagerty passed away yesterday at age 79 at his home after a battle with cancer. Frank’s belief that vintage wooden boats were much more than just “floating pieces of firewood filled with gas” transformed the specialty insurance market for vintage wooden boats and classic cars. His passion led to many visionary ideas within the hobby, such as Agreed Value coverage for all cars and boats, and a one-time liability charge no matter how many cars you own.

Frank Hagerty in a classic wooden boat, one of his loves and also one of the impetuses for the insurance company he founded.

Frank Hagerty in a classic wooden boat, one of his loves and also one of the impetuses for the insurance company he founded.

Born on June 16, 1934, Frank Hagerty grew up in Detroit, Mich., relocating to Traverse City, Mich., in his early 20s. He started a successful independent insurance agency, which he sold in 1981, before co-founding Hagerty with his wife, Louise, in 1984. Hagerty Insurance is now the largest company in the world specializing in insurance coverage for classic cars and vintage wooden boats.

Frank shared his love of restoring vintage vehicles with his three children, Kim, Tammy and McKeel, who were allowed to choose their first car and restore it with their father in the family garage. Kim restored a 1960 Corvair Lakewood station wagon, Tammy a 1960 Porsche 356 B roadster, and McKeel a 1967 Porsche 911S.

“Those restoration projects were purchased for less than $500 apiece, and they were all incredibly rusty and non-running, but they gave each us lots of time with Dad and an appreciation for restoring and preserving cars,” said McKeel Hagerty, President and CEO of Hagerty. “Growing up working in the garage with my dad taught us that hard work and perseverance can bring a big reward. Some of our greatest joys were hearing an engine fire up for the first time.

“But he also taught us the importance of taking care of the less fortunate. He was incredibly generous to people even in his final days,” McKeel said. “The values he taught – the importance of preserving history, working hard and taking care of people – eventually allowed us to grow Hagerty from a single employee in the basement of my parents’ house to a team of more than 600 employees worldwide.”

Frank retired more than 20 years ago, when he transitioned Hagerty to Louise and, later, to the next generation of Hagertys. Since then, his time has been devoted to the activities he enjoyed most: tinkering and restoring vintage cars and boats, and building scale-model railroads. Frank’s lifelong love of the automobile culminated in 2012 when he located an original “Dunesmobile” — a 1948 Ford convertible that was used to chauffeur tourists on the Sleeping Bear Dunes — a car he had dreamed of driving since he was a teenager. Now

Frank Hagerty in the 1948 Ford he dreamed of owning — a "Sleeping Bear Dunesmobile — following the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.

Frank Hagerty in the 1948 Ford he dreamed of owning — a Sleeping Bear Dunesmobile — following the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

fully restored, the Dunesmobile received “Best of Class” honors at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Frank’s last ride in a collector car was to accept that award.

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