Insurance options for a seldom used vehicle?
March 3, 2013 7:43 AM   Subscribe

What are my options for insuring a vehicle that won't be used very much at all?

I'm going to be buying a '62 Chevy pickup. We're buying it so that we can put the engine and transmission in my wife's '65 Impala. The truck runs and drives very well but it's pretty banged up and would be a massive restoration project. However, we're not going to be ready to do the engine swap for a little while. Since that's the case, I'd like to be able to use the truck occasionally. We're talking very occasionally; like less than 50 miles per month - dump runs or picking up a large item at the hardware store. (Gas prices and the effort that goes into driving a non-power-steering 2.5 ton chunk of steel will ensure that we don't do any more than that.) But everything I'm finding on buying insurance is just the typical six-month policy. Is there an option available for a vehicle that won't be out more than an hour or two a month?

If it matters, we have liability only on our other vehicles (they're at the point where they aren't worth full coverage, but we have several times over minimum coverage) and we're in Arizona.
posted by azpenguin to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have an '85 chevy pickup that I drive to Home Depot or take on dump runs occasionally. I have a standard 6-month policy for low-mileage cars (I think it's supposed to stay under 7,500 miles a year) and it costs me all of $15/month. It's so cheap it hasn't been worth it to me to try and find something for less. Are you expecting your truck to cost significantly more than that, or are you trying to find an even better deal than $15/month?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 7:50 AM on March 3, 2013

I live in the city and there's an enormous amount of people who only use their car once or twice a month and still have standard insurance. It's just how the system works. But they have different levels of coverage, so you basically want to choose the minimums. The rate will depend more on your driving record than the vehicle.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:54 AM on March 3, 2013

Make sure that your agents know that you already have two cars. Sometimes you can get a "more cars than people" discount when it's clear that you each have your own car.Other options that may or may not be applicable to you, registering it as a farm vehicle (which around here means basically using it to get hay or the occasional dump trip) or considering its age seeing if you can register/insure it as a vintage automobile (which means you will not be expecting a lot of money for the thing if you total it and will mostly only drive it in parades). Either of these might work. Otherwise depending on how rare these trips are and the laws in your state, you may want to just uninsure it for the bulk of the time you own it and call to reinsure it when you have trips to make. Insurance companies hate this and will likely not want to do it, but I did a bicoastal thing once where I had a car on each coast and would uninsure/re-insure my cars when I would move.
posted by jessamyn at 8:06 AM on March 3, 2013

But they have different levels of coverage, so you basically want to choose the minimums.

This is not a good way to view insurance. Insurance is for costs of risks you can't afford, not chances of risks you can't afford. If it were for the latter, then insurance itself would be less than valuable because all risks have very low chances. It doesn't matter if the chance of running into a multimillionaire driving a Ferrari is quite low, you insure against it because if you do run into that multimillionaire, you will want insurance sufficient enough to repair the Ferrari and compensate the multimillionaire. If you don't have that insurance, the multimillionaire can and will pursue all of your available assets.

To the OP: Talk to an insurance broker and don't try to get a quote online. The online utilities are oriented towards "normal" driving practices and almost definitely won't give you the sort of pricing you're looking for. An insurance broker knows the right levers to pull to make the insurance work for your lifestyle and they actually have a little bit of incentive to do it. If you want to incent them even further, you could consider switching your other car's insurance to that broker, but that may or may not be worth the effort.
posted by saeculorum at 8:11 AM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Depending on your state's laws (ie, insurance required just to register a vehicle or not), your insurance company may offer a "pay as needed" plan for extremely low-use vehicles.

My parents had a 3rd vehicle listed like that for years. They charged him some pittance of a baseline for it (like $50/year); then once every few months he'd give the insurance company a call and tell them he planned to take it out for the day, and they'd charge him $15-20 to "really" insure it for the day (obscenely high if you pro-rated it to a yearly rate, but for only using it a few times a year, a huge savings) ,

IIRC, it somehow made a difference that he kept it in the garage when not in use - They wouldn't let him do that if he parked it on the street, for example.
posted by pla at 10:14 AM on March 3, 2013

Given it's age, you might want to look into classic/antique car insurance.

The trick with that type of coverage, however is:
a) some limit you to "classic type of activities" (going to shows, parades, etc.)
b) you may need to get an appraisal first.

The upside is classic policies are often cheap, and work on the assumption you won't be putting too many miles on the vehicle.

Hagerty is the big-name gorilla in the market (I think it carries the classic activities restriction) but you may be able to find some other local company willing to insure your vehicle under a classic designation.
posted by sardonyx at 10:55 AM on March 3, 2013

Hagerty is what you want. You'll spend $100 for an appraisal and around $350 a year for "fixed value insurance" up to around 15-20k of value. They don't have mileage restrictions other than sometimes limiting your ability to drive to work and back. They only offer full coverage so you've got no worries.

Hagerty again is best but you are looking for fixed value insurance for a collectible vehicle (it's based on year and they cover my '88 European sports car valued at 15k for that amount)
posted by chasles at 11:08 AM on March 3, 2013

Carefully read the policies at hagerty and other places like that though. When I was looking for insurance for my 60s car I only drive 4-6 times a month(and often only a couple miles) there were tons of little restrictions.

One of the big ones both on getting state classic car plates(IE: no tabs) and on most of the insurance was no hauling. There were also ones on having more than x passengers, or passengers in certain situations, but a big one was not hauling anything besides in special situations which I think were along the lines of having antique milk bottles in an old milk truck and stuff. Between that and a few other somewhat broad rules they had specifically structured the whole thing to prevent the kind of use case you're looking for.

Back in highschool, before I had my license both my parents had cars and my dad threw my car on his insurance as an "extra" to use occasionally until I would. It was seriously barely 30 bucks a month with no restrictions. I'd call and make it clear it's a spare car when asking to add it, I bet it'll be a cheap add on to your existing insurance.

On preview, I remember that my coworker has a truck like this(almost the same age actually, 60 gmc). He has like 6 cars total but still registers it normally and has normal insurance because of the restrictions.
posted by emptythought at 12:29 PM on March 3, 2013

Some insurance companies will write a policy based on the number of miles driven each year. I have an older car that's only driven sometimes. I have it and my daily driver insured through the same company, and I get a discount on my older car since it's driven about 2000-3000 miles a year. I just have to send in an odometer statement every time I renew.

Also, if you anticipate owning the vehicle for less than 6 months, you can get a partial refund of your premium when you cancel your insurance.

I considered collector car insurance, but it seemed like there were too many restrictions on how the car could be used.
posted by zombiedance at 1:26 PM on March 3, 2013

Would Metromile work for you? They do pay-as-you go, per-mile insurance. I'm previewing their service right now and the only hitch I could see for you is that the device they sent me plugs into the diagnostics port of the car. I'm not sure if they have a work-around for older models.
posted by funkiwan at 2:17 PM on March 3, 2013

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