What is a classic car?
For the sake of this article, we’re going to use “classic car” as an umbrella term to refer to a variety of vehicle
classifications. We’re going to keep things simple because insurance companies (and automobile associations)
define classic cars, antique cars, modified vehicles, replicas, and rare vehicles differently based on age, use and
whether or not the vehicle has been modified or restored from its original condition.
When we refer to a classic, we’re referring to a vehicle 25 years or older that has historical interest and
appreciates over time.
How classic car insurance is different
Some classic car owners might be confused about the difference between classic car insurance and a standard
auto insurance policy. While there are similarities between the two types of policies, a significant difference is
how the policies treat replacement value.
With a standard auto insurance policy, the value of your vehicle depreciates over time; the longer you own it,
the less it’s worth. That’s important because if something happens to your vehicle, an insurer is only going to
compensate you up to the vehicle’s actual cash value.
In contrast, a classic car can increase in value over time, so a classic car policy will cover your vehicle up to a
specific “guaranteed” value without depreciation. Instead, the policy insures your vehicle for an agreed-upon
amount, based on respected collectible car valuation guides, professional appraisals and research.
Classic car insurance eligibility
To meet the requirements of most classic car policies, you should only use your vehicle on a limited basis. This
could include exhibiting it at automotive events, car clubs and parades. If your classic car is your primary
vehicle, it likely won’t qualify because insurers have a maximum annual mileage restriction.
Your vehicle’s condition will also be a factor. Insurers might require you to have restored, maintained, or
preserved your classic car and require you to store it in an enclosed structure, such as a residential garage or
storage unit, when not in use.
Storing your classic car
The best way to keep your classic car in pristine condition is to store it indoors in a weatherproof structure.
Place a plastic vapor barrier underneath the vehicle to prevent moisture from seeping up through the floor
and reaching the vehicle’s underside.
Since cold air can dry out rubber parts, consider insulating your storage area with fiberglass batting and
weather stripping to keep the cold air out during the winter.
If your classic car shares a garage with sharp garden tools, rakes, brooms and bicycles, dings and scratches are
always a concern. Consider hanging these items on the wall so they pose less danger to your car’s paint job.
Keep garage doors locked and secure any exterior doors with deadbolts to keep out intruders. Install a smoke
detector in your garage and always keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency.
Longer-term storage, such as storing your classic car over the winter, requires additional care. When putting
your vehicle away for the season, remove the battery and charge it on a tender with an automatic shut-off
switch to avoid overcharging. You should also drain any old oil which can be full of contaminants, and add
fresh oil before storing it away.
Top off the gas tank and add a fuel stabilizer to protect the fuel system from corrosion, and make sure to
protect your cooling system with antifreeze, so it doesn’t freeze up during the colder months.
Vehicles in storage are an attractive place for mice and other critters to ride out the winter months. To keep
unwanted visitors out of your classic car, stuff steel wool into the exhaust pipe, engine intakes and other
Since every classic car insurance policy is different, be sure to check with your insurance broker to see if they
have storage or other guidelines you need to follow to maintain eligibility. Properly caring for your classic
vehicle will not only keep your insurance policy in good standing, but it’ll also keep your car in tiptop
condition so you can enjoy it for years to come.