How to find the right insurance for your pride and joy.
You’ve probably invested a lot of time and effort, as well as money, in your street rod, so finding the right insurance is crucial.
This guide explains what you need to know about street rod car insurance, what to look for and how to find the right cover for your street rod.
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What exactly is a street rod?
In Australia, a street rod generally refers to the following vehicles:
- A vehicle with a body and frame that were built before 1949 and has been modified for safe and legal road use
- A carry-over model of a pre-1949 vehicle, made after 1949 and similarly modified
- A replica of a pre-1949 vehicle
What should I be looking for in a policy?
It’s reasonable to assume that you don’t want to drive a street rod around with anything less than comprehensive car insurance. Even then, standard comprehensive car insurance might not suit your needs.
You may want to look for a comprehensive car insurance policy that also includes a range of prestige features to suit your needs. Standard comprehensive car insurance can cover you for damage as a result of the following:
- Fire and explosion
- Storms, hail, flood, lightning and wind
- Theft and attempted theft
- Vandalism and malicious acts
- Damage to other people’s property
- Towing and storage costs
- Legal costs that you may incur in claiming liability from other at-fault parties or defending yourself against legal liability allegations.
- Cover for personal belongings kept inside the car.
- Cover for emergency travel, accommodation and repair costs following an insured event.
What other benefits should I consider?
You may want to look for car insurance policies with the following benefits:
- Agreed value. With agreed value car insurance, you and the insurer agree on a total value for the car. In the event of a total loss, such as if it’s completely written off or stolen, you can receive this agreed value. The alternative is market value, which simply insures vehicles at their publicly recognised market value, subject to depreciation. Market value car insurance typically isn’t the best option for street rods.
- Modifications cover. You should mention each vehicle modification to the insurer and include it on your insurance policy. Once you do this, you can think of these modifications as being officially part of the vehicle under your insurance policy. You will then have cover for these modifications against damage in line with the terms of your insurance policy. By clearing each modification with your insurer, their value can become part of the total agreed value of the vehicle.
- Choice of repairer. Some insurance policies will specify that the insurer will choose the repairer in the event of any damage. For a street rod, you’ll probably want to be able to choose your own.
- Salvage rights. The fine print of many standard car insurance policies says that the insurer gets to claim the car if it is written off. This is when the cost of repairs comes to more than the total insured value (whether agreed or market value) of the vehicle. You will almost certainly want to hold on to the body and chassis, and anything else you can recover, and as such will almost certainly want an insurance policy that gives you salvage rights. Sometimes policies will land in-between these two, and specify that the insurer claims the salvage, but gives you the option of purchasing it back, before it’s sold to a third party or for scrap.
- Event cover. If you take your vehicle to events or meets of any kind, this can be an important form of cover. Depending on the insurer, you can typically get covered for any events put on by a recognised motorsports or enthusiast group. The Australian Street Rod Federation (ASRF) is one such group. Here, for example, your car will be insured while at registered ASRF events, provided your insurer recognises the ASRF.
Agreed value cover and the ability to choose your own repairer, as well as cover for cosmetic and other non-performance modifications, is widely available with many insurers. However, performance modification cover, salvage rights and event cover can be more difficult to find outside of prestige car insurance providers.
How can I reduce the cost of my policy?
Many enthusiast car insurance policies, such as those designed for street rodders, can offer significant savings with a limited use or lay-up option. These might take different forms depending on the insurer and the policy. For example, you may be able to find the following options:
- Lay-up periods. You may be able to specify a lay-up period, during which your car is not insured for road use because it’s laid up for modifications, or you won’t be driving it.
- Low use. If you only drive it occasionally, and the street rod isn’t your everyday drive, you may be able to find a low-use policy which recognises this, such as by only covering you up to a certain distance driven each year.
- Event only. If you only use your street rod for events, you may be able to find a policy specifically to cover it while at the events or while being driven or transported to and from events.
How am I covered for work or repairs I carry out myself?
Insurers will typically not guarantee any repairs you carry out yourself. This means any subsequent damage or loss, which is the result of faulty repairs or repairs you carried out yourself, will typically not be covered.
If you use a mechanic recommended by the insurer, or who works with the insurer, then any repairs will generally be guaranteed against damage.
If you choose your own repairer, then insurers may or may not guarantee repairs. You may want to check for this in your policy or enquire about it specifically with your insurer.
Where can I find the right type of car insurance?
Prestige insurers are often able to offer a higher level of cover for enthusiasts and street rodders.
If you are a member of an enthusiast group, such as the Australian Street Rod Federation, then your membership fees may also entitle you to a discount with the organisation’s sponsors
Shannons, for example, is an ASRF sponsor. You might find suitable cover with Shannons regardless of whether you’re an ASRF member, but if you are a member, you may be entitled to a discount or other benefits with this insurer.
Depending on your situation, the discount and other member benefits may not be worth the cost of membership. Members are not necessarily able to access any more cover, and you may not need to be a member in order to get cover for attending ASRF events.
Exclusions: What the insurance doesn’t cover
You’ll typically encounter many of the same exclusions with prestige car insurance that you will find with standard comprehensive car insurance.
- Obligation to minimise damage. You need to take reasonable steps to minimise damage following an event, such as moving your car off the road or onto the shoulder following an accident if it is safe to do so and you are able to do it.
- Requirement to take precautions. You are typically required to take reasonable precautions in order to make a claim. For example, you may not be able to claim for theft or malicious damage unless your vehicle was secured or attended to at the time. If you specify that you park your car in a garage overnight, then you might not be covered for overnight losses that occurred while your car was parked on the street outside your home.
- Roadworthiness and legal driving obligations. Vehicles are typically only covered on the roads while they are in a roadworthy state, and you are following all the relevant laws in your state or territory. An accident claim will be denied if you were driving under the influence at the time or refuse to take a breath test or other sobriety test at the scene of an accident.
- Unapproved modifications. Unless an insurer has specifically approved a modification, as specified in your policy, you may not be covered for any damage or loss of vehicle modifications.
- Unapproved use. If you’re using your street rod for commercial purposes, whether it’s carrying passengers for profit or renting it out for use on a movie set, you are typically not covered unless you have cleared it with the insurer ahead of time.
The costs: Your excess and premiums
The excess is a portion of the claim that you need to pay. Often, multiple excesses will apply, in which case you will need to pay them all before the insurer will pay a claim.
- Standard excess. This is the standard excess found under your policy. You are often able to choose your own excess, and you can opt for a higher excess for lower premiums or vice versa.
- Unapproved driver excess. If the person driving the car at the time of a claim is not listed as a driver on your policy, you may not be covered at all or an additional excess might apply.
- Age or experience excess. Drivers under the age of 25, or drivers over 25 who haven’t held their license for very long, may face an additional excess.
- Special excess. An additional excess may apply to specific types of claims, or an insurer might apply a special excess to high-risk drivers, for example, one with a history of traffic infringements.
Overall, prestige car insurance typically costs more than standard cover, not only because the vehicles are usually worth more and insured at a higher value, but also because you can find a range of additional cover types.
What impacts my premiums?
There are a number of factors that can affect the cost of your car insurance.
- How you park the car overnight, and whether you park it in an enclosed garage, in a carport or on the street can affect your premiums.
- Security features, such as alarms or immobilisers may help reduce premiums with some insurers.
- Your age and gender also have an effect. Under 25s typically pay significantly more for cover, while men often pay more than women.
- Location, including your state, city, suburb and even your specific address will increase or decrease your premiums. Insurers may consider the actuarial risks of different areas.
- Your driving and claims history, such as if you have made many car insurance claims in the past, have a history of traffic infringements or otherwise present a higher risk than most, could increase your premiums.
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