Should I Carry Collision on an Old Car?
A quick study in risk exposure vs cost
It was an early November day a few years ago. A long time customer stopped in our office to tell us
that he wanted to remove comprehensive and collision from one of his cars. "Sure, we can do that for
you," we cheerfully replied.
Continuing as we pulled up his information to start the change, "Here,
have a seat. Do you mind if we ask why you want to remove the coverage?"
"It costs too much," replied the customer.
"I hear what your saying, you'd like to save some money and you feel the best way to do it is to make
some changes," our helpful staff agreed.
"That's right, the car is old and not worth much," the customer explained.
We asked a few more questions to find out the customer's personal situation. As it
turns out, his son worked about 15 miles from home and the car was the boy's only way to get back and
forth to work. The car was reliable and in good condition. There was no other car available for his
son's commute. If the vehicle was in an accident and not driveable they would need to have it
repaired or replaced. We reminded the customer that we were getting into a time of year when driving
conditions due to weather, darkness and deer increase the risk of being in an accident.
The customer gave some more thought to his decision and instructed us to keep the coverage on the vehicle and he
would come back in the Spring to discuss removing or reducing the coverage.
We saw the customer again in three weeks, well before the Spring. "Thank you so much! My son was
coming home from work last night and he slid on ice into a guardrail. He's fine, but the car isn't.
The shop says it is going to be at least $1800 to repair," he said as he filled us in on the details
of the accident.
As he exhaled he told us, "I'm so glad I didn't drop the collision coverage, I don't
know what we would have done if we had to come up with the $1,800 out of our pocket."
Should I carry collision coverage on an older vehicle?" We get this question a lot and the answer is
"it depends." Sorry for the vague answer, but here are some factors to consider when deciding what is
best for your situation. Of course, discussing the matter with your insurance professional is the
best way to decide what is best for you.
What is the value of your vehicle? An "older" vehicle still may have a significant book value. Low
mileage, excellent condition and other factors may mean you would still get a decent settlement in the
event your vehicle is totaled.
Do you have the funds to repair or replace the vehicle if necessary? Even older cars may be expensive
to repair. If you have to replace the car because of an accident, how much would you have to put down
on a replacement?
Consider further, how likely is your vehicle to be involved in an accident? Do you drive it daily or
is it just a spare vehicle you're keeping around until it dies? Do you drive it long distances? Is
it exposed to potential hit and run incidents, like street parking or in a large parking lot while at
What is the time of year; icy roads in Winter lead to more accidents, more driving in the dark
when the clocks change can lead to increased risk of an accident. If there is a higher risk that your
car will be involved in an accident, you may consider keeping the collision coverage on.
How much will you save by removing collision? Increasing the deductible may save you some money and
still protect you against some financial loss.
Many people will say their car is older and if it is in an accident, they will just get rid of it.
That is a valid point. However, consider a situation where your car is hit and run while parked at
the shopping center. Your taillights are busted, which you have to repair, and it may cost around
$1,000 out of your pocket, what will you do then?
Before you drop collision coverage on any of your vehicles, make sure to consider the possibilities.
This is the time when dealing with an insurance professional who knows you and your situation can help you make
the best decision.
DISCLAIMERThe information provided is not legal or professional advice. Clair Associates is licensed
to sell Property and Casualty insurance in Pennsylvania. We are located in Apollo and Plum.
Questions regarding your coverage should be discussed with your insurance professional. Your
insurance policy will detail the coverage provided by your insurance carrier. Insurance policies can
differ among carriers and states.