Thursday, December 13, 2012

Own or Plan to Own a Classic Car? Protect Your Investment

Antique and classic cars are not only a treasure to their owners, but also can be a lucrative investment. Collector cars in mint condition can command many times their original value. But, whether you have one, are considering restoring one or are looking to buy, you need to consider a number of things before spending a lot of money on your "dream car".

Hurricane Sandy, which recently hit the East Coast, damaged thousands of collector cars. One insurance company specializing in classic and antique cars estimated that between 8,000 to 10,000 collector cars were damaged in the storm! Although it is impossible to protect these cars against a force of nature this devastating, it serves notice that classic car owners ensure that their car, whether a treasure or an investment, is as safe as possible. That starts with, but is not limited to, adequate insurance.

Adequate Insurance

Since collector cars don't depreciate like regular cars, coverage is based on an agreed value rather than a cash value. You and your insurance company agree on a value when the policy is purchased that takes into account everything you have invested in your collector car.

Antique or Classic?

Is your car an antique or a classic car? The general rule is that antique and classic stock vehicles were built from the turn of the century through 1972.

It used to be said that any vehicle 20-25 years old or older was considered collectible. That is no longer true. Automakers' production numbers significantly increased in the mid-1970's and quality standards fell. Because of this, there are some mid-1970's and 80's vehicles that are not collectible.

However, some still are because they have desirable amenities such as:
  • Convertibles
  • 2-door sports cars (few 4-door sedans are collectible)
  • Unique body shapes
  • Foreign sports cars
  • Big block V8 engines
Safe Storage

A garage is a necessity for your collector car, and you need to make sure the building is solidly built. Is the foundation strong enough to withstand earthquakes or flooding? Is the roof in good condition, free of debris, and the gutters working properly? Make sure the siding and windows are in good shape and sealed from the elements. While there's little you can do if a hurricane or earthquake strikes, many collector cars are ruined by leaking roofs, excess moisture or minor flooding that could be prevented with a little building maintenance.

If your garage is like most, you probably also have garden tools, a lawnmower, paint and cleaning supplies stored there. All of these items can cause damage if they drop or fall against or into your classic car.

How to Reduce the Risk of Damage:
  • Store rakes, shovels and other hanging tools in cabinets and secure them with hooks. If cabinets aren’t feasible, secure tools to their wall hooks with small bungee cords or rubber straps.
  • Cover your car when it’s being stored to help protect it from flying debris.
  • If you store your car elevated, be sure to support it on sturdy jack stands under the suspension, which should always be under tension. Never use concrete or cinder blocks.
  • For long-term storage, always disconnect the battery. Also, if you know a storm is coming, be sure to pick up from the ground any battery tenders and extension cords to keep them out of floodwaters.
  • Secure heavy objects, such as drills or toolboxes and appliances, with safety straps.
  • Install safety latches (like childproof ones) in cabinet doors and drawers to prevent them from opening and spilling their contents.
  • Fasten ceiling lights and other hanging equipment to supports by using safety cables.
  • For framed pictures, car signs and neon signs, use long-shanked, open-eye hooks and picture wire to fasten them to walls. Make sure the hooks are anchored into the walls with studs. You can also try closed-eye hooks and securely screw them into the back of the frame.
  •  Install flexible gas lines and automatic gas shutoff valves (if your garage is heated).
  • Keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher in your garage.
Even if disaster never strikes, following these tips may contribute to a garage that has less clutter and an environment in which your classic car is generally safer.
Sources: Progressive Insurance and Hagerty Classic Car Insurance