Best Cheap Classic Car Insurance

  • Craig Fitzgerald
  • 7/17/2020

Classic Car Insurance: Which is Best and Cheapest?

If you have a vintage car and a daily driver, there’s almost no reason to NOT have classic car insurance. But there are differences between the companies that offer it. Our recommendations for the best insurers for classic or collector vehicles:

  • Cheapest Classic Car Insurance: Grundy Worldwide
  • Most Comprehensive Insurance: Hagerty Insurance
  • Best Overall Value: Grundy Worldwide

Classic car insurance is similar to the coverage you have on your other vehicles, but there are some important differences that you need to be aware of. First, you’ll need to find an insurer, but you’ll also need to determine a value for your new baby and work with that insurer to find coverage that protects your investment and helps you replace or repair it in the event of an accident.

When you find out how little it can cost to cover your vintage vehicle, buying insurance is going to be almost as much fun as buying the car. Almost.

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Classic Car Insurance Quotes

We obtained quotes for several popular classic cars to get an idea of the range of costs and how three of the top classic car insurance companies stacked up.

We chose cars that represented the most basic collector cars in America (1966 Ford Mustang), a representative Italian classic (1974 Alfa Romeo Spider), your average Little British Car (1966 MG MGB), a middle of the road German roadster (1977 Mercedes-Benz SL280), an up-and-coming American collector car (1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS), an instant classic from the modern era (1999 BMW M Coupe), a stalwart, relatively expensive classic American car from the 1950s (1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Coupe), and a gold-plated classic pickup that has increased in value at least three-fold over the last 25 years (1970 Chevrolet C10 Pickup). Our selection is a cross-section of the collector car hobby today.

All three insurers we received quotes from specialize in insuring collector vehicles, mostly those that are not used as a daily driver. We sought quotes that include liability coverage of at least $100,000 per individual/incident and assuming fewer than 2,500 driving miles per year on the vehicle. Grundy is the cheapest classic car insurer in every one of our examples, but it has a $500 deductible whereas the others do not.

Here are the annual insurance premiums we were quoted:

Hagerty InsuranceAmerican Collectors InsuranceGrundy Worldwide
Spare parts coverage is $750. Restoration coverage included. $0 deductible.Spare parts coverage is $500. Restoration coverage not included. $0 deductible.Spare parts coverage is $500. Restoration coverage included. $500 deductible.
1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. With 90k miles and valued at $10,000$266$162$120
1966 Ford Mustang Coupe. With 80k miles and valued at $17,800$209$180$151
1977 Mercedes-Benz 280SL. With 85k miles and valued at $11,000$266$146$94
1999 BMW M Coupe. With 25k miles and valued at $32,000$565$682$272
1974 Alfa Romeo Spider. With 29k miles and valued at $16,000$251$180$136
1966 MG MGB. With 84k miles and valued at $13,000$178$152$111
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe.$445$443$420
1970 Chevrolet C10 Pickup.$401$371$290

How is classic car insurance different from regular car insurance?

We’ll take a look at what makes classic and collector car insurance special, but first, some terminology:

  • Actual Cash Value (ACV) is the vehicle’s worth, in cash, at the time it was crashed. After the crash, the insurer will send an adjuster out to look over the vehicle and come up with that value, which will be the settlement offer that you’ll receive.
  • Stated Value is a number that allows you to layout the value of your vehicle to the insurer. The stated number helps determine how much you pay in premiums, not necessarily what you’ll get paid if the vehicle is wrecked. Many insurers have clauses in their policies that says the insurer will pay you the stated value or the actual cash value, whichever is less.
  • Agreed Value comes into play for vehicles that don’t have a standard cash value, which usually applies to classic cars and collector vehicles. The insurer may not have enough data from recent sales to determine the vehicle’s cash value, which leaves a lot up to interpretation. The agreed value is a number that you and the insurer agree upon, that you will be paid if the vehicle is destroyed. The insurer won’t agree to just any value, though, and will use appraisals, photos, and other documentation to figure out if your requested valuation is acceptable.

When you start the process of buying insurance for your vehicle, a large part of your policy’s cost will hinge on that vehicle’s value. Another factor in the process is the amount of money you’ll receive if the vehicle is in a collision or is destroyed. With a late-model vehicle, calculating value is a pretty straightforward process, since there’s plenty of data on sales and purchase prices. Classic and collector vehicles are a different story, though, because they aren’t typically sold at dealerships and the values can vary wildly.

The agreed value will determine what you get paid if the vehicle is damaged or destroyed and can help you cover your valuable or sentimental ride that may or may not carry the value you assign to it. Hagerty says that agreed value is an option offered primarily by specialty insurers.

What does classic car insurance cover?

Classic car insurance coverage looks an awful lot like traditional vehicle insurance. You’ll still be looking at standard liability coverage, but in many cases, you’ll want to pay for collision, injury, and other options. Most carriers offer some sort of part replacement or other coverage that helps you recover damages for custom work and modifications that have been made to the vehicle.

Many policies include extras like roadside assistance, trip interruption coverage, medical coverage, and more. Some policies include special coverage for auto show attendance, which can help protect you if you or someone else gets hurt while your vehicle is on display. There are even options to cover your vehicle at auto shows if you aren’t there, or if you are forced to cancel for some reason and lose money as a result.

 Beautiful classic cars at a auto exhibition
Getting a classic car insured may be cheaper than you expect

How much does classic car insurance cost?

You may be reading this and thinking that since the cars can be expensive, classic car insurance must cost an arm and a leg. That can be true in the kind of million dollar cars that trade at the upper echelon of the hobby, but for the rest of us, the costs can be very reasonable. Unlike a new vehicle, there’s a great chance that your classic or collector vehicle won’t be used as your daily driver, which should drastically reduce the number of miles driven. Additionally, not all classic vehicles are as expensive as newer cars, and assuming parts are relatively easy to find, they may even be cheaper to fix after an accident. Hagerty says that, on average, their classic car insurance can cost 39% less than standard car insurance, while Grundy states that their policies are around 50% less on average.

We compared prices from Hagerty, American Collectors, and Grundy, by providing the following variables for all of these cars:

  • The car is stored in a garage, rather than outside
  • We don't use it as a daily driver
  • The car is stored in MetroWest Massachusetts
  • It's driven around 2,500 miles per year for pleasure only

From a quick glance, you can see that the annual premiums for these cars are probably a good bit lower than what you pay to insure your main driving vehicles.

While classic policies can be less expensive, there are limitations to reach lower prices. Most policies will include mileage and usage limits. None of these insurers have a minimum age of what they consider "classic," but they also won't insure your 2017 Accord. They really insure "specialty" vehicles rather than "classics."

Where you store your vehicle will also impact the price of the policy, as a car stored in a garage will carry a lower premium. Classic car insurance also assumes that older vehicles will be driven in a more careful manner than a newer one.

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Where to Buy Classic Car Insurance

Hagerty Insurance

Hagerty is one of the best known and most respected insurers in the classic and collector vehicle space. The company offers a variety of insurance products for almost any vehicle and has flexible policies to allow more mileage and other benefits over competing insurers.

Getting a quote from Hagerty is easy. Just fill in the online quote tool and it will be presented to you online. You'll get emails about it later that you can choose to ignore or respond to.

As you can see from the quote comparison for exactly the same vehicle, Hagerty is the most expensive of the classic car insurers. But it's also got a couple of advantages, and it's the one with the most additional perks and services, some of which truly make owning a classic car more enjoyable.

Hagerty provides more parts insurance than the other two insurers. Considering that a clean New Old Stock console for an '86 Monte Carlo SS can easily run into the $500 range, it would be nice to have coverage on that item if it were to get destroyed or stolen.

Second, Hagerty has "restoration" coverage, meaning that you can agree to a value for that vehicle as it's being restored, then adjust the coverage when it's completed protecting you if the vehicle was stolen or destroyed by fire as it was in the process of being restored.

Then there's the magazine. When you have a Hagerty insurance policy, you get a subscription to its fantastic publication. As the publishing industry has essentially imploded, some of the best automotive writers and photographers in the country have been selected to put the magazine together every month. If reading a magazine is your thing, it's definitely worth an additional $20 or $30 per year to insure through Hagerty.

You also get other benefits like roadside assistance and concierge services as part of the deal, the benefits of which are easily as good as AAA.

American Collectors Insurance

American Collectors has been around since 1976 and offers a variety of policies to cover classic and collector vehicles of all types. They also offer coverage for motorcycles, rods, and custom vehicles.

American Collectors used to be an independent company, but in the last few years, it was purchased by Assurant, a giant insurance conglomerate that trades on the New York Stock Exchange. There are obvious pros and cons of dealing with a huge insurance company. You can realize some cost savings, but you might also lose some of the personal touches that a privately owned company can provide.

The quote tool is similarly easy to use. Just put in your particulars and you'll be provided a quote online.

American Collectors do not have restoration coverage, which is a distinct disadvantage. And while it does cover restoration parts, that coverage caps out at $500.

Like Hagerty, American Collectors has a member’s club with events and various other benefits for people who pay an additional fee.

Grundy Worldwide Insurance

You’ll note in our table that Grundy is the cheapest insurance, regardless of the car insured. However, that’s because they apply a $500 deductible if your vehicle is damaged. You can opt for a deductible with the other providers, but Grundy doesn’t let you opt for $0 deductible. That makes it cheaper upfront but could be more expensive if you do need to file a claim in the future.

Grundy insures much more than just vehicles, offering personal and homeowners insurance on top of their automobile policies.

Grundy's quote tool is a piece of cake, too. It's really remarkable how quickly and painlessly all of these companies share the cost of insuring a classic vehicle.

Grundy provides restoration coverage, which is a big win. It offers slightly fewer parts coverage at $500, so consider that before you make your decision.

One of the company’s big selling points is that they will ensure all vehicles at their agreed value. It's part of a program they call "MVP". It means that you can ensure a daily driver at an agreed value, and if you experience a total loss, you'll collect that value, regardless of depreciation. And not only will they cover your cars, but they'll also cover things like RVs, travel trailers and even your pet. If your pet happens to get injured in an auto accident, Grundy will reimburse you for related expenses.

When to Choose a Major Insurance Carrier Over a Classic Specialist

Originally, we were unambiguous about not insuring your classic car through a major carrier. There are all kinds of reasons not to: Major insurers have no idea how to, nor have any interest in learning, how to provide coverage for a classic vehicle. If you're involved in an accident, you'll receive the "book value" for your loss, which can be tens of thousands less than you've invested in it.

HOWEVER (and this is a big however) there are a handful of reasons to get your insurance through a major carrier if you drive a classic car:

  • Daily Driver: If you’re using your classic car as your primary car, you need to cover it with a traditional insurer.
  • Mileage: When we quoted out insurance from Hagerty and suggested we were going to drive somewhere around 7,500 miles a year, the quote engine kicked the request back saying the mileage was too high.
  • Is it a “classic”?: The classic car insurers have a broad idea of what they consider to be “classic.” Things like the Monte Carlo SS that we quoted used to be considered just regular used cars, but today they’re welcomed under the classic umbrella, as is the BMW M Coupe, which isn’t yet at the 25 year old bracket that most ordinary citizens start to think of as classic. But what about your Mark III conversion van from the 1990s? Is anybody ever going to consider that a “classic?” You may have no choice but to find a conventional insurer.

When you insure a vehicle like this through a conventional insurer, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Deductible: Unlike a lot of classic vehicle insurers, you’ll definitely have a deductible with your conventional insurer, and it can be around $1000. If you’ve got that money in the bank to pay for repairs, it’s not much of an issue, but if not, it’s something to consider.
  • “Book Value”: Here’s where you’re going to get burned. Consider our Monte Carlo SS example. We set an agreed value of $10,000 when we got quotes. If we wanted more, we could’ve gotten significantly more. If the vehicle was destroyed in a crash, we’d get a check for $10,000. That’s how agreed value works. There’s a more sophisticated algorithm for assessing “book value,” but it’s basically insuring you for the fair market value of your car, looking at things like wholesale price, average retail price at a dealer and some private sales mixed in. If we look at the average retail value of a Monte Carlo SS, it’s $5,350, no matter how much you’ve invested in it. If your car is in premium condition and could easily sell for $17,000 on the open market, you’re getting $5,350 for it, less your deductible.

FAQ

Who has the best classic car insurance?

If it’s the monthly payment, the best is going to be Grundy, but keep in mind that’s with Grundy’s mandatory $500 deductible. For all-around service, benefits agreed value and zero deductible, Hagerty is tough to beat.

What cars are eligible for classic car insurance?

You can make an argument for a lot more cars than you’d think. No, your 2007 Toyota Camry isn’t going to qualify, but your 1986 Honda Accord in perfect condition with just 43,000 miles probably does. Your best bet is to contact the insurer to find out. They’ve been very reasonable in accepting all kinds of cars if there’s any kind of collectible market for them.

Why is classic car insurance so cheap?

Because you don’t drive it as much as your daily driver. An average daily driver covers about 15,000 miles a year today. The major collector car insurers are covering cars that drive maybe a quarter of that mileage every year, some way less. Most classic cars are garaged, making them less vulnerable to theft. The only thing that classic cars are more vulnerable to is fire, which seems to be the most frequent claim for classic car insurers.

Can I use my classic car as a daily driver?

You own the vehicle and can do with it as you please, but your insurance policy might not cover you if you’re using it as a daily commuter. Most classic insurance policies have strict mileage limitations, which can impact the policy’s cost and coverage options. If you plan to use the car regularly for commuting or other purposes, you probably need to consider a traditional insurance plan. Here are our recommendations for the best cheap car insurance companies for regular-use vehicles.

Can I insure a custom vehicle?

Yes. You and your insurer can discuss options, but the agreed value of the vehicle should include any modifications or custom parts that add to its replacement cost.

How much does classic car insurance cost?

The cost of your classic car insurance policy will depend on the vehicle that you’re insuring, how much you drive, and on other factors like your driving record and credit. In general, classic car insurance is less expensive than traditional insurance because the carrier assumes that the vehicle is being used infrequently and that it’s being babied when it is driven.

Can I change the agreed value of my vehicle?

You may be able to have your vehicle reassessed and appraised to update its value. Check with your insurer, but be aware that your rates may increase if the vehicle’s value goes up.

Vehicle exploding at gas station
Insurance. For life's unexpected events. For example... an exploding gas station.
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