When specialty insurance started becoming more prevalent, things started looking up, but stories continued about strict limitations on how car owners could use their specialty cars. Mileage limits were agonizingly low, and driving your pride and joy to work or to the hardware store meant potentially violating the terms of your policy.

Restrictions still exist of course-they are the reason companies can provide relatively low-cost, agreed-value insurance on high-dollar cars-but restrictions such as mileage limits and usage have loosened up. Some companies offer unlimited mileage, but only under specific recreational uses, such as driving to car shows or local cruising. Some companies allow more types of use but maintain annual mileage limits.

"The nature of the hobby is always evolving and people want less restrictions," Bergan says. "People don't want to be told when and how to use their cars. American Collectors has various options available so customers can pick the policy best suited to the way they use their car." Options include a feature called "freedom tier" that allows customers to drive their cars for some general use-which was off limits at one time.

Mandy Ebert told us about similar changes at CHROME/ANPAC, which has a mileage allowance of 10,000 miles per year with no restrictions. They do require that the customer own another primary-use vehicle, but they allow occasional normal use for the specialty car, such as a trip to work now and then.

CHROME/ANPAC also offers a category called Modern Classics, which covers current limited-edition specialty vehicles like the new Chevy Camaro, which some enthusiasts are buying as collectibles. For cars in progress, the company has increased its "spare parts coverage," to protect up to $1,000 worth of parts that a car owner might have in the shop ready to install-or even parts waiting to be used someday down the road.

Heacock Classic Collector Car Insurance offers free 24-hour roadside assistance and towing services for its customer as part of the Heacock Classic Drivers Club Roadside Assistance Plan. Hagerty also offers roadside assistance service at several levels for annual fees. Check with your agent about similar programs from your company.

Getting the Rat Policy
Even so-called rat rods are beginning to shake off some of the resistance they've traditionally received from insurance companies, as more specialty insurers are looking at this growing segment of the hot rod hobby. "We're chartering un-navigated waters with these cars," Pete Doriguzzi from Heacock says. "We're on the cusp of that right now as we see more of those cars come through." Doriguzzi agrees that many of these cars are well built and safe, despite their outer impression. Even so, the patina'd distressed style that has become popular in the last few years presents challenges when underwriting comprehensive insurance policies. How do you assess accidental damage on a car that was built with intentional aesthetic flaws as part of its charm?

In addition, many of these cars are driven much more frequently than the majority of street rods. We know rodders for whom their hot rod is their primary vehicle. If that's you, a stated value policy or actual cash value policy might be your only option. These policies are not as advantageous as an agreed value policy, but at least you'll have some protection and will be legal if your state has liability requirements. That may change someday. Heacock and others seem eager to deal with the challenges of a changing hobby. It'll be interesting to see what they come up with.

Worst Case Scenarios
On February 21, Jason Graham, owner of Hot Rods & Cool Customs in Portland, Tennessee, experienced a builder's worst nightmare when a fire destroyed his shop and nine cars. Each of his customers experienced a rodder's worst nightmare when they got the call from Graham telling them that their car had been damaged or destroyed.