Whether you have a need for speed and maneuverability, or simply prefer the luxurious interiors and smooth rides of elite imports, you drive a car that has a certain cachet. You may not be among the world’s elite, but your car is, which means it’s an investment as much as a means of transportation, and investments must be protected, right?
The best way to protect your automobile is to make sure you have adequate insurance coverage, but elite imports, performance cars, and even restored classics present a challenge to many “standard” insurance companies. This is because insurance rates and coverage limits are based on tables of data that compare risk, and the more unique a car is, the less data there is. Insuring a Honda is easy, because hundreds of thousands of people drive them. Insuring a Lamborghini is a bit trickier because you just don’t see them on the road.
Specialty insurance, then, is the route to take, especially if your performance or classic car isn’t driven every day. The advantages of specialty insurance policies are:
- They’re less expensive than standard insurance, as they generally don’t have all the same options, and because there is less perceived risk.
- They are based on “agreed value,” a value for your car that you and the agent agree upon after examining the age, condition, rarity, and cost of your car, and factoring in any aftermarket upgrades.
- Policies for classic cars often have zero deductibles.
- Policies generally meet the “full coverage” requirements imposed by finance corporations.
Conversely, there are disadvantages that should be considered:
- There are generally restrictions on who is insurable drivers must be adults with clean driving records and significant experience behind the wheel.
- An appraisal may be required, especially if your car has a great many unique features or aftermarket parts.
- The allowed mileage per year is usually quite low.
When shopping for specialty insurance, there are several steps you can take to ensure a fair deal with a reputable company.
- Select the right insurer. Every specialty insurer has its own rules, so do research ahead of time. Network with members of the same car clubs or owners groups to which you belong, and check out auto enthusiast magazines like Hemming’s Motor News and Car and Driver for broker listings.
- Examine your driving habits. If you think your performance car will be driven fairly regularly, consider talking to a standard insurance company they may have an elite division, or may be able to work with you to determine a fair value for your car. If you car will be spending most of its time in a locked garage, specialty insurance is still your best bet.
- Itemize everything. Before you talk to an agent, be sure you’ve compiled a list of every non-standard or aftermarket part in your car, with the approximate cost of the item. Enough of these will affect the value of your car, and engine mods can knock you out of consideration entirely.
- Ask about discounts. Just because you’re driving an expensive vehicle doesn’t mean you have money to burn. Remember, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
Elite insurance can cost up to 20% more than the insurance on a more conventional luxury car (think Lexus), but you usually get more coverage for the money. Classic cars will generally cost significantly less to insure. Either way, you can find appropriate insurance for your vehicle if you know where to look and what to ask for.