6 August 2013

Losses & Lessons: Classic race cars lost in trailer fire

VEHICLES COVERED: 1965 Shelby GT3501969 Porsche 911 and 1969 Chevrolet Camaro

WHAT WENT WRONG: Whether or not you’re a classic motorsports fan, this story will leave you with a sick feeling in your stomach. The owner of three 1960s race cars had the vehicles trailered by a race prep shop. On the way to a show, the truck hauler caught fire and the flames moved quickly to the trailer. Before the cars could be removed, all were lost.

DAMAGE/LOSS: The ’65 GT350 (valued at $160,000), ’69 Porsche 911 ($80,000) and ’69 Camaro ($65,000) and were total losses.

LESSON: Losing three classic automobiles with racing pedigrees was tough enough to swallow. But the story gets worse. The cars were not insured by the owner, who thought off-track insurance was pointless and also figured that the prep shop’s insurance would cover any damage en route. It didn’t. When you self-insure your classic cars, you roll the dice. In this case, proper insurance coverage would have cost the owner a small fraction of the $305,000 that was lost.

Editor’s note: While this month’s “Losses and Lessons” is based on a true story, the actual cars in the story have been changed to protect the privacy of the owner.

32 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Walter W. Virginia August 15, 2013 at 13:29
    Would my Hagerty Classic Car Insurance have covered my vehicle in transit like these were or would I have needed something extra?
  • 2
    Steve Barusso Massachusetts August 15, 2013 at 13:36
    Truck hauler is definetly responsible for this loss. Any other answer is un acceptable!! This truck hauler should be the person to go after. Certainly not the owner of the vehicles. Sounds like a case for Judge Judy.!!
  • 3
    Ken Geelhaar Parkville, Md August 15, 2013 at 13:40
    Most people that have raced their cars in the past know that there is no insurance coverage on a vehicle while during competition. I also thought that the tow vehicles insurance company would cover the cost of replacement of whatever is being towed legally. It seems according to this story that is not the case. How would you know unless it happens to you? I feel that the insurance industry should do a better job communicating with car owners about use coverages.
  • 4
    Art Denzau Tulsa, OK August 15, 2013 at 13:44
    At the prices that Hagerty charges for classic car insurance, I can't see any good reason NOT to insure your car. Its just not worth taking the risk.
  • 5
    Brian Vancouver Canada August 15, 2013 at 14:00
    If your thinking you should have insurance buy it.This story makes me sick as I know how I would have felt if it was my classic only difference is Hagerty would have paid me. Hagerty has fantastic insurance with a great road side got my car towed approx 65 km at no cost. The premium is good but the piece of mind is better !!!
  • 6
    Bruce Johnson oakdale mn August 15, 2013 at 14:15
    Goes to show you that people with more money than most can also be the cheapest people you will ever meet.
  • 7
    Roger Spears United States August 15, 2013 at 15:47
    And if you own a trailer it is important to note that while the trailer is covered by your towing vehicle's policy, as an extension of that vehicle, that coverage does not extend to anything carried on or in the trailer other than for liability. A vehicle hauled is covered for third party liability (falls off or is thrown from the trailer and causes damage to someone or their property), but repair/replacement of the vehicle being hauled, or any goods being hauled must be insured in a specific policy. Too many people assume that anything they haul is automatically insured with the trailer/towing vehicle, and that can be a sad lesson to learn, too.
  • 8
    thomas texas August 15, 2013 at 15:51
    Lesson one,dont let others work on or tow your cars. lesson two, read your policy and ask questions.most towing incidents are covered by the towing vehicle,so don't tow your 458 Italia with a Chevy pickup without talking to your insurance provider for clarification of covered limits.I actually saw this combination on a highway once!
  • 9
    john red bluff ca August 15, 2013 at 16:43
    I told my self, I was not going to total up the cost on my professionally done restro rod project. But then reading articles in national publications about shop fires and transportation accidents, I began to worry about possible losses, since the builder recently had to transport the vehicle to specialists’ miles from his shop. As a result, I did the calculations, (OMG), and got an estimate from Hagerty. At the value I estimated at the time, cost would have been about 250 a year. They also would give multiple discounts for additional collector vehicles up to five. I ended up with five insured for only about 65 total annual additional cost, at a value considerably more than I paid back in the day. Of course, if there is never reason for a claim, the expense was worthless. However, who knows what might happen in this day and age?
  • 10
    jeff berndsen Colorado springs August 15, 2013 at 18:08
    nobodys fault but owner , cant blame shop for him not protecting his investments properly
  • 11
    Steve Bagatti Iowa August 15, 2013 at 18:18
    Real tough break. Feel for the guy but hey, some things need to be insured. Biggest share of the blame here goes to the owner.
  • 12
    mike Visalia ca August 15, 2013 at 19:06
    Ask me how I know. 1964 R Code 427 Galaxie 60's race ca. Battery exploded major fire. Almost lost house,1962 406 Galaxie and a 1972 Bronco. Insured by Hagerty back on the road.
  • 13
    Bill Texas August 15, 2013 at 19:08
    Hagerty would have helped more of us if the details had been provided of how the trailer caught on fire and thus we could profit from that info.
  • 14
    Paul Illinois August 15, 2013 at 19:30
    I had 3 cars totaled in July 2011 from an 80ft. cottonwood falling down on the cars. 2 were insured with State Farm (daily drivers) and 1 was insured with hagerty. Not only was Hagerty there the next day, My claim was paid in full at the agreed value! before State Farm had even showed up to do a claim!! Hagerty showed me that not only do they care, but they stand behind their service claims also. They made a believer out of me and will always insure my collectible cars.
  • 15
    Dean Tankersley Tucson,AZ August 15, 2013 at 19:33
    I have three cars with Hagerty insurance , if I take one to repair shop is it insured?
  • 16
    Rick Howell Morgan Hill, CA August 15, 2013 at 21:53
    This is a sad story overall... feel bad for owner of those cars, but when you own rare vehicles like those, a few hundred bucks a year is nothing to make sure those cars can be replaced, not to mention peace of mind knowing you are covered. In my own experience here in Calif. DMV is on your case to prove you have insurance on your classic car, or they will pull your registration and refuse to give you tags. I agree with other posters here that carrier must have some carrier liability insurance in order to operate as a business? Would be interested to learn final outcome of the legal wrangling that is sure to come!
  • 17
    Tony Hillman Cape May Ct Hse NJ August 15, 2013 at 11:01
    I assume he would be sueing the prep shop if the fire originated in their carrier? Give us the follow-up.
  • 18
    Frank Milwaukee August 15, 2013 at 23:33
  • 19
    Motomomx3 Bay Area CA August 15, 2013 at 12:18
    Oh, that story brings tears to the eyes! What a sad demise for those cars - the owner should have known better and more importantly, HIS AGENT SHOULD HAVE, AS WELL!!!
  • 20
    Mark Brown Knoxville, TN August 15, 2013 at 12:30
    I just had an accident involving an uninsured motorist who fled. Hagerty has been fantastic with getting my 1970 Superbee repaired. It is a small price to pay to have a good feeling nowing your car is protected. Thanks Hagerty
  • 21
    Russ Sciolino Western NY August 15, 2013 at 12:34
    Another lesson you need to learn that is a more common issue than what is presented here, is to be very careful in what insurance you buy, My lesson learned was that 15 minutes was all it took to get the wrong insurance. I did not realize this until I had a loss. Now i have specialty car insurance and have one less thing to worry about.
  • 22
    Steve Hamilton, ON August 15, 2013 at 12:56
    My neighbour had a '69 RS Z/28 Camaro stored in a barn for the winter. Some kids got into the barn and set it on fire. The Camaro was a total loss. The Camaro was NOT INSURED! Lesson learned. This happened in 1992. The Camaro was worth far less then what it's worth today. Unfortunately, my neighbour won't be able to reap the benifit of todays values.....
  • 23
    Forrest Gump here August 16, 2013 at 14:35
    I might not be very smart, but even I am smart enough to insure classic race cars.
  • 24
    Ken Clark Florida August 16, 2013 at 19:27
    I had moved my 74 model 102 VW from the storage area up to my house when tropical storm Andrea threatened to dump up to 6 inches of rain and cause localized flooding. During the height of the storm my wife opened the garage door and the 50 mph winds caused the car which was in neutral to roll backwards out of the garage and into my parked LIncoln. Damage to the bumper to straighten and replate was $950.00.Hagerty approved the charge almost immediately while I am still struggling with my other company for the cost of a new plastic bumper on the Lincoln. Stick with Hagerty !
  • 25
    Mike NY August 16, 2013 at 09:02
    How come I have never heard this story before? What was the VIN of the 65 GT 350?
  • 26
    bill corlett 44047 August 16, 2013 at 09:46
    I have 3 cars covered by Hagerty Insurance, would they have been covered in the above instance? Just curious.
  • 27
    Bradley Nashville, TN. August 17, 2013 at 07:47
    I went for 25 years without any insurance on my classic 69 Mercury Cougars. One is now a nice original driver as of this summer and the other after having been a driver for several years is now a show car. This spring I finally put insurance on both. I was STUPID but also lucky. I now have peace of mind and would not recommend my long term lack of insurance to anyone!
  • 28
    Will Matevich Inverness Fla. August 18, 2013 at 09:59
    your right ,Frank from Milwaukee, ya cant fix stupid !!! I have been Insured by Hagerty for about 4 years now. it started out to be one car, now I have 5 Insured. $650 year isnt bad for a good feeling your protected.. I wouldnt drive across the street with out proper insurance... I have never had a claim YET, and I dont want one either,, but I keep dishing out the $650...so I wont be in the shape as the guy that has 3 burned up classic race cars...I wonder if he still "shows" them ?
  • 29
    Clark Hartzel Fraser, MI August 18, 2013 at 10:25
    I tried to get Haggerty Insurance on my Corvairs but they won't insure my cars as I don't keep them in a locked "secure garage". Whatever car I am working on is in my garage. The others sit outside. I end up just getting State Farm daily driver insurance on the Corvairs. It's not that expensive and I can drive them whenever I want to.
  • 30
    David J Dean United States August 18, 2013 at 00:03
    Same question , would my standard Hagerty ins have covered this? Same question I asked when the kid dropped his bike on Dad's Porsche in the garage. You pointed out why it is important to have these cars protected, but did not answer the question.
  • 31
    Cyrus Chandler, AZ August 19, 2013 at 15:32
    Why would a race shop tow an uninsured car? I bet they had a disclaimer saying it was the owners responsibility. Such a sad story because regardless of coverage a total loss is a total shame!
  • 32
    Carl Aguanga, Ca. August 31, 2016 at 21:08
    We are building a new home and detached garage in a Wildfire Urban Interface area of California. The garage and the house are being built to meet stringent fire codes using non combustible exterior materials and special Windows. Will Hagerty insure my 69 Camaro SS under these conditions?

Join the Discussion