Collector Car Insurance Industry Dealing with Hurricane Sandy Aftermath


Collector Car Insurance Industry Dealing with Hurricane Sandy Aftermath
Photo Credit: Yahoo Autos

It’s been almost like a death in the family for the car collectors whose prized possessions were damaged by Superstorm Sandy in October.

Never mind the dollars-and-cents value of these cars. It’s the sentimental value of these collector cars that is immeasurable for their owners.

Kevin J. Mackay, owner of Corvette Repair Inc. in Valley Stream, N.Y., on Long Island, says he’s already seen grown men come into his shop in tears. “They didn’t expect a storm surge to wipe out their work, their investment, their prized family heirloom,” he says.

But unfortunately Sandy poured her wrath out on thousands of car enthusiasts in the Northeast, where a huge chunk of car collectors just happen to live, many of them wealthy and preferring to live along the coast.

Mackay, for one, already has 15 flooded cars waiting for repair in his shop, with more likely to come in the ensuing months.

It’s not like these car collectors didn’t do all they could to try and save their vehicles from the power of the storm, but sometimes Mother Nature is just a foe that cannot be vanquished.

“These are people who go to great lengths to protect their vehicles, and they did as much as they could do,” says Laura Packard, vice president of sales and marketing for American Collectors in New Jersey. “They put cars up on jack stands and hydraulic lifts, but too much water came. No one had experienced anything like it, so they couldn’t expect it.”

Then there are those poor souls like the owner of two Corvettes that managed to survive the water but then fell victim to large trees that crushed the garage in which they were stored!

Collector Car Insurance Industry Dealing with Hurricane Sandy Aftermath
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

What it all adds up to is “the single most devastating loss to collector cars ever,” according to McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty Insurance Agency. His agency reports 1,000 total losses, and Hagerty expects perhaps as many as 10,000 vehicles will be taken off the road because of the storm, some of them totaled and lost forever.

Fortunately, the collector-car insurance industry is answering the bell.

“The customer is in the driver’s seat,” says Jeffrey Walker of Chubb. “We want to do what is best for them, and we’ll work with them through the process to try and come to the best outcome.”

Mackay agrees. “There’s a lot of thinking going on right now,” the Corvette repair specialist says. “We look at the damage. We look at the insurance payout. We look at the parts and labor – maybe how many corners we can cut to make it work and get (the car) back on the road. It’s so much work. In some cases it’s a complete rebuilt because of the salt.”

The good news is that many of these collectors will go to great extremes to make their cars whole again – so the result may not be as tragic as it seems at first glance. “It’s happening already,” says Phil Brazer, owner of Netcong Auto Restoration in Landing, N.J. “Some of these guys are going to spend more money than the car is worth to restore it because it has such sentimental value.”

Packard, for one, sees the glass as half full. “They will absolutely come back,” she says of the classic-car community in the Northeast. “It may take some time to do that, but this is a resilient, close-knit group.”

Collector Car Insurance Industry Dealing with Hurricane Sandy Aftermath
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson


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