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Classic car insurance

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

All car owners have a lot to consider when they buy auto insurance. Besides buying coverages required by law, folks who finance an automobile must also meet the insurance requirements of their lenders. For most people, buying a car insurance policy is all about protecting their assets if they’re in an accident. After all, with proper coverage you can replace almost any car.

But classic car owners face a different set of challenges, because many of their vehicles are irreplaceable. For them, protecting their prized possession is just as important as their other assets. That’s where classic car insurance comes to the rescue. This special type of auto insurance touches all the bases, meeting the requirements of financial responsibility laws while giving automobile owners the peace of mind that only comprehensive protection can provide.

What is classic car insurance?

Classic car insurance isn’t for newer automobiles – it’s specifically designed for antique, classic and vintage vehicles. A classic car insurance policy may include all the protections you’d find in a full coverage policy, but it usually offers a bit more, like parts coverage and roadside assistance.

How old does a car have to be to get classic car insurance?

Typically, an automobile must be at least 20 years old to meet the classic classification. But such labels don’t easily stick. Automobile organizations and insurance companies have their own ideas about what defines a vehicle as a classic. The term can apply to a variety of automobiles, from dust bowl era tractors to World War Two military vehicles.

Types of collector auto insurance

Many collector cars fit into one of three classifications.

  • Antique car: In some locations, state laws define the antique automobile classification. In fact, some states even offer special license plates for antique vehicles. Typically, antique cars are more than 45 years old and still meet the original manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Classic car: Typically, classic cars are defined as between 20 and 40 years old. Like their antique siblings, classic cars should have few, if any, modifications and must meet their original manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Vintage car: Vintage cars were manufactured between 1919 and 1930. But unlike antique and classic cars, modifications don’t affect the validity of their classification.

The three classifications place certain vehicles in nice, neat categories. But you may have noticed that many other types of non-traditional vehicles don’t quite fit any of the definitions. Luckily, auto insurance companies offer classic car insurance to a much broader assortment of automobiles. In the insurance industry, automobiles covered under a classic or collector car insurance policy may include:

Who needs classic car insurance?

Classic car insurance is for well-maintained older vehicles that have held or increased their value over the years. Car collectors, car club members and folks who just own a treasured old automobile need classic car insurance. If you’re driving a 1969 Datsun 510 until the wheels fall off because you can’t afford a new car, you don’t need a classic car insurance policy. But if you want to cover a mint condition 1962 Thunderbird that you inherited from your grandfather, you need the special protection that only a classic car insurance policy can provide.

Classic car insurance eligibility

Eligibility for classic car insurance varies among providers. Most insurers limit their coverage to vehicles 25 years of age or older, but some provide coverage for a broader range of vehicles. For example, Geico’s classic car insurance can cover:

  • Classic fire trucks, hearses and military vehicles
  • New exotic automobiles, like an Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin or Lotus
  • Replica cars such as a 1980s DeLorean
  • Automobile models 1995 and older

Nationwide offers classic car insurance for an even wider lineup of automobiles, such as:

  • Antique cars
  • Antique tractors
  • Collector motorcycles
  • Collector race cars
  • Collector trailers
  • Hot rods
  • Kit cars
  • Lowriders
  • Muscle cars
  • New collector cars

Classic car insurance isn’t designed for vehicles you drive every day. To qualify for classic car insurance, you must adhere to the carrier’s usage and storage requirements. Geico insures classic cars driven to automobile shows, car club activities and for occasional pleasure rides, but won’t cover vehicles used as a primary source of transportation, and requires owners to store their cars in enclosed, locked facilities.

Grundy imposes equally restrictive driving and storage limitations, but covers vehicles parked outside while traveling. Some insurers consider exceptions to some restrictions. For instance, Nationwide prefers owners to store their classic vehicles in a secure enclosure such as a garage or storage unit, but will consider covering vehicles parked in carports and commercial parking garages.

How much does classic car insurance cost? 

Auto insurance companies apply many factors when determining your rate, including your age, claims history, credit history, driving record and location. Classic car insurance is designed for vehicles that aren’t used as your primary source of transportation. Insurers make a variety of price claims, but in many cases, classic car insurance coverage costs substantially less than a standard auto policy. For example, American Collectors Insurance claims its rates are up to 40% less than most standard car policies.

To put these claims to the test, we requested a quote from Hagerty, based on the following automobile profile:

  • Driver: Male, age 40
  • Location: San Francisco, California, 94109
  • Vehicle: 1965 Ford Mustang GT convertible
  • Modifications: None
  • Value: $45,000

We were pleasantly surprised by Hagerty’s quote for $507 annually. The quote included all state-required coverages, along with collision and comprehensive.

Coverage TypeCoverage LimitCoverage Price
Bodily injury liability$100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident$30
Personal property liability$100,000$7
Medical payments$1,000 per person, per accident$7
Uninsured/underinsured motorist$100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident$10
Collision $196
Comprehensive $204
Limited earthquake coverage $8
Spare parts$750$0
Hagerty drivers club membership* $45
Deductible $0

*Membership includes access to member-only events, automotive discounts, unlimited roadside assistance service and six issues of Hagerty magazine.

What does classic car insurance cover?

Classic car insurance works just like standard auto insurance and includes many of the same coverages, such as:

  • Bodily injury liability: This coverage pays the medical expenses of another driver when you cause an accident. Bodily injury liability doesn’t cover the injuries of you and your passengers. Most states require you to carry minimum levels of bodily injury liability insurance.
  • Personal property liability: When you cause an accident, personal property liability pays to repair the other driver’s vehicle, or other types of damaged property, like a fence or light pole. However, this type of coverage won’t pay to repair your car, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Like bodily injury liability coverage, most states require you to buy personal liability coverage.
  • Collision: Collision coverage pays to repair your automobile following a covered road accident. State laws don’t require you to purchase collision coverage, so drivers who own their cars outright often forgo purchasing it. However, collision coverage is usually included in most classic car insurance policies.
  • Comprehensive: If a thief steals your automobile or it sustains damage in a non-collision incident, like a fire or storm, comprehensive coverage can help repair or replace it. Laws don’t require you to buy comprehensive coverage, but it’s typically included in classic car insurance policies.
  • Medical payments: Required in some states, medical payments coverage pays the medical expenses of you and your passengers following a covered accident. However, this type of coverage doesn’t pay the medical expenses of another motorist.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP): Like medical payments coverage, PIP pays the medical bills of you and your passengers after an accident. PIP may also pay funeral expenses and a portion of your lost income while you’re recuperating. Often called no-fault insurance, PIP coverage is only required in some states.
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist: Uninsured motorist coverage helps pay your medical bills and repair costs if you’re involved in an accident with a hit-and-run or uninsured driver. When another driver is at fault for an accident but doesn’t have sufficient insurance to pay for your injuries, your underinsured motorist coverage kicks in to fill the gap. Some states require all motorists to carry one or both coverages.

Some classic car insurance policies include coverages that you won’t find in a standard auto policy, like:

  • Agreed value: Standard automobiles depreciate at a calculable rate, but classic cars don’t. In fact, many well maintained classic cars increase in value over time. If your classic car insurance policy includes agreed value coverage, you and your insurer will determine the value of your vehicle when you purchase the policy. If the automobile is stolen or totaled, your policy will pay you the amount of money the insurer agreed to pay, minus depreciation and your deductible.
  • Spare parts: Unlike owners of newer vehicles, classic car owners need to keep spare parts on hand to handle future breakdowns. Many classic car insurance policies include a limited amount of spare parts coverage. For example, Nationwide’s classic car policies include $750 in spare parts coverage, with no deductible, and Grundy’s policies include $500 in coverage.

If you own a trusty newer car, you likely won’t have to deal with too many auto repairs. But many classic car owners practically live under the hood to keep their rides on the road. Classic car insurance policies may also include coverage that helps pay expenses when you breakdown on the road, like towing and trip interruption coverages. 

Classic car insurance companies

Although coverages may vary among companies, classic car insurance isn’t difficult to find. Some insurers specialize in classic car insurance, while many traditional auto insurance companies also offer it.

Traditional car insurance companies

Specialty car insurance companies

How to save money on classic car insurance

Although classic car insurance is often cheaper than a traditional auto insurance policy, there are plenty of ways to reduce your premium even further. First, take advantage of discount programs. Our Hagerty quote included a good driver discount right off the bat because our profile auto owner had a clean driving record. Insurers offer all types of discounts, like:

  • Electronic billing discounts
  • Defensive driver course discounts
  • Good student discounts
  • Homeowner discounts
  • Multi policy discounts
  • Paid in full discounts

A low deductible gives you the peace of mind that you won’t have to spend much out of pocket for a covered accident. But a low deductible increases your premium. If you increase your deductible, you can lower your insurance costs.

Try to avoid filing claims. Oftentimes, filing a claim can put you at risk of a rate increase. Paying out of pocket makes sense for minor losses and if you deposit the savings into an emergency fund, you’ll have extra cash in case you have a major accident later.

If you insure your classic car with a traditional car insurance company, ask your agent about bundling options. Most major providers offer a discount when you bundle auto insurance with a home or renters policy.

The takeaway

  • Traditional car insurance companies and specialty carriers sell classic car insurance.
  • The term “classic car insurance” can apply to coverage for a wide range of non-traditional automobiles.
  • Insurers often impose usage limits and strict storage and security requirements on automobiles covered by classic car insurance policies.
  • Classic car insurance policies often cost less than traditional auto insurance coverage.
  • Classic car insurance policies often include a few extras, like roadside assistance, spare parts and trip cancellation coverages.

If you’re like most classic automobile owners, you spend a lot of time pampering your special investment. Classic cars need a lot of attention and they also need the special protections that only classic car insurance can provide. Although these types of policies come with restrictions that traditional auto policies don’t include, they also come packed with protections, like parts and roadside assistance coverages, which owners of old vehicles need. If you own a classic or collectible car, keep detailing and polishing, and protect it with a classic car insurance policy.

Michael Evans

Michael is an insurance writer for Coverage.com. He began writing professionally in the 1990s while working for the world’s first online mortgage broker, and today specializes in education, finance and retiring abroad. Michael has contributed to numerous digital and print publications, including Bankrate, Fox Business, International Living and Yahoo Finance, and is the author of Escape to Colombia, 1st Edition, a comprehensive guide to retiring to Colombia.

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