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What to consider when shopping for auto insurance for an old car

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Every year, brand-new cars roll off the assembly line and onto car lots throughout the nation. These cars must be built better than their predecessors to compete in a race to the top of the multi-billion dollar automotive industry.

Due to the superior make of modern vehicles, Americans are holding on to their cars longer than ever. Now the average age of cars in the U.S. has reached an all-time high of more than 11 years.  

As more people hit the road in aging cars, finding the right auto insurance has become a concern for those who want to save a few bucks on coverage. A common question is, “are older cars cheaper to insure?” Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case.

Whether it’s a classic or a beater, we looked into the factors essential to finding the right insurance for an older car.

Factors to consider when insuring older vehicles

There’s no one solution for insuring a car. Every car has insurance needs, and that goes double for older vehicles. Here are the main factors to consider when looking into auto insurance for older cars. 

Consider if your car is a classic

Insurance providers have strict guidelines on which vehicles can be considered a classic. Although an older car may be treasured by its owner, it might not qualify for a classic designation in the eyes of the insurer. 

Every insurance company has rules surrounding classic cars, but insurers will usually look at the vehicle’s age, collectability and condition. Older vehicles with some collectible value may not qualify if the car is in sub-par condition. Insurer’s generally only insure cars as classics if they are in good shape. 

Most insurers also require classic cars to be used only occasionally, so the car can’t be driven for daily commutes or errands. Basically, it must be more for display rather than driving.

Before insuring a hot rod, providers will want it stored in a secure, locked place—not parked in front of a home. If there are too many marks on the individual’s driving record, that could disqualify the vehicle from classic car insurance too.

Consider deductibles

Deductibles heavily factor into the cost of car insurance for older cars. A deductible is the dollar amount that policyholders must pay out-of-pocket before the insurance kicks in. A higher deductible will mean a lower premium, but it also means the initial cost will be higher for the policyholder when filing a claim. 

When looking into deductibles for older cars, consider how much value the car has retained over the years and whether that value is more than the policy’s deductible. Older cars in rough condition could be worth less than the deductible amount.

Consider premium costs

A premium is the amount the policyholder will pay upfront for insurance. The cost of a premium depends on many factors, but the age of a vehicle isn’t one of them. Premiums will not go up or down just because of the car’s age. 

However, premiums may be higher if:

  • The car is a model commonly stolen 
  • The driver has a history of accidents or driving unsafely
  • The car doesn’t have good anti-theft or safety features

Consider the cost of sourcing parts

Older cars tend to require more repairs. When it comes time to replace parts, some old cars need parts that can be hard to find, which usually makes them more expensive. 

If the older car was built in another country, repairs might include tracking down expensive parts from specialty shops overseas, and that can make the price rise fast.

Repairs on older vehicles can be tricky. Some old cars require specific skill sets to repair, and finding the people who can make those repairs might take more time and money than it would for a new car. 

Consider dropping collision coverage or comprehensive coverage

The coverages included in a policy are another factor that has a big impact on the premium. When insuring an old car, take a close look at the coverages that the insurer has for sale and whether they will be needed to provide adequate protection for the vehicle. 

Collision and comprehensive coverage both protect the insured car from physical damage. Collision pays for damage to the car after an accident with another vehicle, and comprehensive pays for damage to the car from other incidents, such as natural disasters, theft and vandalism.

Dropping collision and comprehensive coverage from an auto insurance policy is a quick way to save on premium costs. However, it’s important to understand that doing so means the driver is taking on more risk.

Liability coverage is all that’s required in most states, and it’s much less expensive than collision and comprehensive coverage. Liability insurance only covers the other vehicle and driver, not the insured vehicle and driver. 

So, in the event of an accident or other incident, the driver with liability insurance will not have any protection for their car. 

How to avoid overpaying for auto insurance for older cars

When looking into a quote for older car insurance, it’s easy to get carried away with all of the coverage options. Tailoring the policy to the specific needs of the driver and the car will help to ensure the right coverage.

Insurance providers also offer a variety of discounts that can further reduce the cost of coverage. Discounts vary from company to company, but here are a few of the ones commonly offered throughout the industry: 

  • Insuring more than one car: Insurers might provide a discount when including multiple cars in a single insurance policy.
  • Bundling more than one policy: If the auto insurer also offers other types of insurance like homeowners, they want people to use its services for both types and might offer a discount as incentive.
  • Higher deductibles: Higher deductibles mean policyholders pay more out-of-pocket before the policy picks up the rest of the tab, so most providers offer lower rates on policies with higher deductibles.
  • Anti-theft devices: Car alarms and other anti-theft devices make it harder for thieves to steal the car, so insurers often provide discounts to compensate for the lower risk. 
  • Safe driving courses: Some insurers will reduce the cost of the premium if drivers agree to complete approved driving courses. 

The takeaway 

  • A common misconception is a car’s age affects the premium.
  • Condition, location and personal driving history all affect the premium, but the car’s age doesn’t.

Finding the right insurance for aging cars is a growing concern when more Americans are driving them each year. Although the car might seem valuable, insurers tend to set a high bar for older cars to qualify as a classic.

When shopping for an insurance quote, keep in mind that older cars can be harder to repair, which may increase the premium. Choosing coverages and deductibles wisely will go a long way toward lowering the overall cost of insurance.

Julian Dossett

Julian is a freelance writer for Coverage.com, where he writes about auto and home insurance with an eye toward consumer advocacy. His work has appeared at The Simple Dollar, Bankrate, Reviews.com, Blockchain Beach and MSN.com. He’s currently based in New Mexico.

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