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Hagerty: Free Automobile Assurance

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Los Angeles CA, May 28 2021 - Does anyone recall collector car insurance Before Hagerty? B.H. is an era that we are all happy to forget, even if we can still remember the pain. Insurance companies were not your friend - they loved your payin' but always seemed to fight your occassional payout.

Since high school I have regularly driven 20+ year old cars and kept many of them a long time. I was not one of the statistically guaranteed youngsters to get in a car crash (motorcycles - well, different story). I've never been the cause of more than a bent fender lip in driving damage since. I need insurance for other people, and I can't avoid them all.

Insurance premiums of the old days were not much different cost for new cars than old, yet if it came time to make a claim there was almost no cash value given to your pre-classic clunker. My dad left his 10-year old but near mint 1970 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale outside the garage one night - the one very night a huge hailstorm rolled through and damaged thousands of houses and cars. The Honda Civic beside it was utterly destroyed;  the Olds suffered only a hammered gold finish.

The insurance company declared the car a write-off: glazing the top skin with bondo and paint was apparently too much to bear. They paid out a small not-worth-it amount but the buy-back price was under $300 - so kind of dumb to send an otherwise great car to the crusher. How many fantastic cars met such an early demise because insurance companies didn't value old cars properly (according to us)?

1970 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale: Restoration Project

1970 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale - saved from the crusher at all costs

Ensuring Future Bad Attitude

As the quality of my cars increased, my faith in insurance decreased. Nobody was ever going to give me the overspent money I was putting into my cars back to me if something unfortunate happened. It seemed logical to self-insure (on collision premiums at least) - to save tens of thousands of dollars over the years and just pay for my mistakes if and when they happen.

One day the unfortunate happened - a punk on a fresh off-the-lot BMW ran a red light and whacked my rear fender. You will never find a reproduction rear fender for a 1970 Olds 88 convertible, so I had to hold my nose for a large dent pull and mud job to keep the repair cost down to $2200. Surely the new nose of the offending BMW would have cost more than that, but serves them right. Not my fault, so no problem - right?


There are no body parts for most classic cars - accident damage means great cost or great compromise.

Totally wrong. It took 3 months for the crash causer's insurance to finally entertain the "investigation" process. Farmers Insurance Group was the antagonist - they claimed that the two out-of-town witnesses in my car had conflicting descriptions of exactly how the accident happened. My uninsured $2200 claim was simply denied by them with no recourse - no insurance company on my side to argue (when you pay for it). My suspicions were confirmed - insurance companies are evil. So, I will tell this story until I get my $2200 worth of bad publicity for Farmers Insurance.

Awning of a New Era

2014 Mercedes-Benz Airstream Interstate 3500 EXT for sale

My last insurance claim a few years ago was a different story. We bought a newish Mercedes-Benz 24 foot van kitted out by Airstream. On handing over the keys, the original owner warned of a problem they were having with the side awning - it would sometimes open out while driving if the wind picked up. The dealer, Airstream Orange County dealer told the owner it was their fault for operating incorrectly, and not to bother them about it. Dually noted for us to get checked out.

We headed out on our first trip to Palm Springs to try iout our Dream-mobile. No sooner had we turned off Highway 10 onto 111 into town when we were hit by a crazy big gust of crosswind - a regular occurrence in those parts. The awning started to open at 60 mph - then the fabric and arms structure ripped off the top like Zeus grabbed the last tissue from our box.


We hadn't even advised AAA yet that we had a new vehicle to add on the new policy, but they took one look and said OK to fix all; $10,000 damage worth. We offered proof that Airstream had wired the awning backwards from the factory (we weren't the only ones) and that they should be held responsible, but nobody cared. It was still a great relief. Dealing with Airstream and their two SoCal dealers for the repairs was a far worse disaster, but that story won't be written until I can promise myself to submit something without being laced by very bad words.

High Profile Sire


So, to make a long story longer - back to Hagerty. These family folks have been around since 1984 - starting out with vintage boat insurance. Now led by son McKeel Hagerty, Hagerty Insurance has become an absolute giant presence in the collector automobile industry. They are surely making bank on the incredible rise of the special car market, but there is no company putting more back into the community than Hagerty.

For disclosure, I insure 4 cars with Hagerty. I can only drive or crash one at a time, so it makes sense that I think I should get a price break. I figure Hagerty saves me a lot of money each year compared to a non-classic focused insurance company, so they don't need to pay me for my endorsement.

You will notice the Hagerty logo on the sponsor page of significant numbers of automotive related events, groups and foundations. Insurance has been a dirty word forever, but Hagerty comes away squeaky-clean because they seem to care and they share. Armed with significant data from their significant customers, Hagerty Insurance is in a unique position to profit from that knowledge - but also to offer prophet to their customers.


Hagerty partners with other interesting companies across the country, including the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles CA. The Petersen liked him so much they enlisted him on the Board of Directors.

The Numbers Behind the Passion - A Conversation with McKeel Hagerty


After a tough year of masked face and distant space solitude, McKeel was one of the first big name car guys to get out there and pound the stump-puller with encouraging words. Addressing a well-heeled crowd outdoors on the roof of the Petersen parking garage, McKeel provided an interesting and very current overview of the collector car market. The news was rather uplifting, in light of extensive generational shifts in progress.


After the presentation, the audience questions made it clear that there are many open questions about the state of the automobile market. What is considered a classic? Who is going to buy my car in the futures? What about converting classics to electric?; he torqued us into it. Car folks look to McKeel for assuring answers to the tough questions - and they get them backed with experience, compassion and data.


Bruce Meyer (Museum chair, co-founder) thanked McKeel for travelling cross-country to get some sun, then spoke admiringly about McKeel's insight and contributions to the Petersen since joining. Earning high praise from the honorary "Mayor of Beverly Hills" - usually the recipient of such high praise, must have felt good. There are few folks that contribute to car culture as much as Bruce, so he would be a good judge of cars and character.

In Part II we shall drill into some of the data points McKeel presented on this warm May evening. Be assured it will be interesting and you will be free to profit from them.


Story, photographs by Randy Berg


Petersen Automotive Museum
6060 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90036

Hagerty Insurance Agency, LLC
121 Drivers Edge
Traverse City MI 49685