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Avoiding fires while your collector car is in storage

John owns a 1970 Dodge Charger in one of the “high impact” colors from that year, called Plum Crazy.  It’s a car that John bought when he was younger and kept through the years, and eventually restored.  One day during the winter months, which is the off-season for collector cars where John lives, there was a fire in his garage where he kept the Charger.  The car sustained significant damage, and there was fire damage to his house as well.  Luckily there were no injuries to people or pets, and there was enough left of the car that it could be restored.  The fire marshall determined that the fire started with an electric device that was attached to the car, but no actual cause could be determined, because the electric device was burned too badly.

It turns out that the electric device was a battery maintainer (sometimes called a trickle charger) that somehow caught on fire. Because the device was close to the car, and the car and the device were close to the garage walls that are attached to the house, the fire quickly spread and resulted in significant damages.

John’s homeowner’s policy covered the damage to his home, and his collector car insurance covered the agreed value of the vehicle.  John is in the course of restoring the vehicle back to its original purple glory, but he knows that the fire situation could have been much worse.  He’s also aware that preventing this type of situation in the future is better than just hoping that it doesn’t happen again.

Many of us use battery maintainers when we don’t drive our collector cars for lengthy periods of time, but few of us knew that the battery maintainers could be a potential problem unless we take a few prevention steps.  We recently visited with a large and well-respected auto restoration shop which deals with a lot of very expensive vehicles.  The owner of the shop told us that he had three clients over the past year who had fires, much like the fire that John had with his 1970 Charger, all due to the battery maintainers.  Those clients of the shop sustained significant damage to their vehicles and homes.  One of the clients had some extensive investigation done to determine the exact cause of the fire, and it was found that the battery maintainer had caught on fire because of a power surge.  Apparently, power surges could cause a battery maintainer to catch on fire.  The shop has over a hundred battery maintainers, and they unplug each of them every night, and plug them back in every morning, under the fear that a fire could occur overnight when nobody is at the shop.  We’ve heard these things before from others, so it’s time we found a method of prevention.

Since the issue of a power surge seems to be a possible trigger for fires with battery maintainers, we recommend that everyone using a battery maintainer consider having it plugged into a surge protector, which are readily available as small single units or multi-unit power strips.  We know that different surge protectors are not all equivalent, and some can handle larger power surges.  If a power surge is powerful enough it might cause the surge protector to fail, and the power surge would then get to the battery maintainer, potentially causing a fire.  So, although surge protectors are inexpensive, you should consider getting one that has high power protection ratings.  Often the ratings are in joules.  A rating of 600 joules is good, but a rating of 1,000 joules (or higher) is better.

The next thing to consider using is a fire-resistant bag/box for the battery maintainer to sit in when it’s in use.  Those items are flexible fire-resistant fold-up boxes that are available in different sizes, so you can find them to fit whatever size battery maintainers that you’re using.  The fire-resistant boxes are sometimes described as “fire proof”, but almost nothing is actually fire proof, so we’ll refer them as “fire resistant”.  The ones we’re describing are intended for use when charging or transporting LIPO batteries (used in certain remote-control toys) which are known to sometimes catch fire, so these boxes should be useful for containing any fire that originates at the battery maintainer.  If you use the search words “LIPO Safe” in one of the large global online retailers, such as the one that’s named after a big river in South America, you’ll find lots of the fire-resistant boxes in different sizes, for fairly inexpensive prices.  We bought several sizes, and the average price was around $5 each.  Try to avoid the boxes that have only one layer of fire resistant material.  Instead, you want to buy the ones that have a double layer of fire resistant material, because those will better contain a fire, and are less likely to have a burn-through.  The battery maintainer should be completely inside the fire-resistant box, and the cords can go out any of the sides.  Most of the fire-resistant boxes have Velcro closures, but the boxes are not air tight, so there is ventilation, but generally not enough for a fire to burn as it might without this extra protection.

Although some of our photos show the use of a battery maintainer under the hood of our classic Mustang, it would be best for you to have the battery maintainer at some distance away from your vehicle. You should also keep it away from anything potentially flammable in your garage (such as the walls) to minimize the potential risk of damage if a fire occurs, regardless of whether you’re utilizing a fire-resistant box.  The fire-resistant boxes will help slow the fire, and keep the fire contained, but remember that the fire-resistant boxes are really only “fire-resistant”, and not “fire proof”.

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Flood Action Plan: 10 Steps to Get You and Your Car Back on the Road

Since 1967, we have been helping our customers protect their classics with affordable, industry-leading insurance coverage. We know that preparing for an approaching storm can be stressful, and we want to remind you of some steps you can take if your vehicle is damaged or exposed to flooding.

Don’t wait for the adjuster to arrive. In a catastrophe, it may be days until an adjuster arrives due to the concentrated work load in the affected areas. By taking the following 10 steps, you will in no way jeopardize your claim, and you will set the stage for a better outcome once the claim is established.

1. Mechanical systems and the interior can be dried out and cleaned.

2. Take pictures to establish visual damage and the high water mark.

3. Disconnect the battery.

4. If the waterline is above the dashboard the car could be totaled. However,
there is still significant value as many collector cars were restored from much
worse condition. You will still want to.

5. Establish a high-water mark. Look for water inside the doors and the taillights,
and dampness in the carpets and interior trim. This will allow you to focus on
cleaning areas that are most critical.

6. Mold and corrosion can start within 24-48 hours. Clean out the interior as
best you can using towels to absorb water. Keep the doors open, use a
shop vac to pull out the water and then use fans to help dry.

7. Even if you’re tempted, don’t try to start the car. If there’s water in the
engine, transmission or fuel system, you’ll just compound the damage.

8. Check the dipsticks for the engine and transmission. If water is present you
change the oil and filter.

9. Electrical systems on new cars are complex. However on classic cars this is
not typically the case and can be cleaned as well. If you are able, dry off
any connections you have access to.

10. Siphon the fuel out into a container and look for water. If water is present
you may need to have it cleaned professionally.

Remember, these suggestions are just the basics and are designed to keep the most parts of your collector car protected from the most serious damage in the initial hours after a flood. They also set the stage for a successful clean up by professionals.

Posted in: blog, Classic Car Insurance  

Condon Skelly On Claims: Storage Structures

Stacy, a Condon Skelly insured, stored her 1960 Mercedes Benz 190SL in a garage located on her property in Connecticut.  Her area usually avoids the destructive hurricanes that occur more frequently along the southeastern coastlines.  However, when Hurricane Sandy hit, an old Oak tree on Stacy’s property fell, crushing her garage and damaging her classic Mercedes.  Stacey was quick to call the claim in using Condon Skelly’s claim hotline at 877-371-9774.  The claims team acted immediately, and they were able to coordinate with her homeowner’s insurance to have all the damage appraisals done at the same time.  Just 3 weeks later, Stacey’s vehicle was repaired and ready to drive.

Is Your Garage or Storage Facility Safe?

With hurricane season in full swing, snow and ice aren’t the only elements to consider when evaluating the location where your classic vehicle is stored.  High winds accompanied with heavy rain can cause extensive property damage to inadequate storage structures. Additionally, it these conditions can affect the structures around your storage facility. Strong rain storms can cause trees to uproot and telephone poles to fall, which can cause damage to your garage and the vehicle inside.  Its best to make sure that the garage or storage building is safe before a problem occurs. Here are some things to consider:

How Can You Prevent this From Happening to You?

Inspect your garage or storage building.  Does it look strong and structurally sound?  Or does it have holes or rotting timbers or rusty or bent metal support beams?  Is it leaning, or is it straight?

Inspect the area surrounding your garage or storage location.  Is there anything that could fall on the building and cause damage during a severe weather event?

Determine the Condition of Trees in the Area

– Is the tree leaning?  If so, has the lean increased recently?  Does the tree look healthy?

– Are there any noticeable cracks, particularly at the base of the trunk?  This often indicates root decay and risk of the tree falling.

– Is the crown healthy with respect to full foliage in the growing season and good bud set for the winter? Root problems are often reflected in the condition of the crown.

– Are the limbs trimmed back?  A large limb falling can cause significant damage to a building.

Check the Condition of Your Storage Facility Roof 

Has the roof of your garage or storage facility had any leaks recently?  If so, it might be time to replace that roof.  High winds and heavy rains will cause more damage to an older roof.  Not to mention the property damage that water from a leak can cause to your prized auto.

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Don’t Forget to Clear the Roof

John, a retired Condon Skelly insured, cherished his 1973 Lamborghini Espada. Being a New Jersey resident, he primarily drove during the spring and summer months while storing his vehicle in his garage during the winter months.

Last February, NJ received a significant amount of snow fall. Although there were no major storms, snow from a number of small storms accumulated over time. John did not realize just how much snow was accumulating on the roof of his garage, and soon the weight became too much causing the roof to collapse. This caused significant damage to all contents inside, including his prized auto.

John was able to quickly report the collapse via our claims reporting email, CondonSkelly@yorkrsg.com. In an effort to make things easier on John during this stressful time, we coordinated our appraisal on the vehicle with John’s homeowners insurance to estimate the damages. Unfortunately, we determined that the vehicle was a total loss.

John had experience rebuilding cars, so he decided to keep the salvage on his vehicle and use his settlement money to restore his Lamborghini. We recently received a picture of John’s newly restored vehicle and a thank you note for the terrific service we provided.

Like many other claims we handle, this situation could have been avoided all together if John had removed the snow. We recommend that you remove snow while it is still fresh. The weight of 10-12 inches of “new snow” is equal to about 3-5 inches of old, compacted snow or 1 inch of ice. Allowing snow to melt and freeze over time could set up a potential collapse in the event of a second or third snow storm accumulating on top of the existing snow and ice. Try to remove snow within a few hours of the end of the snowfall.

However, we must emphasize that you should NEVER climb on the roof to remove snow. The risk of injuries sustained from a fall far outweighs the benefits of removing the snow from your roof. Plus, the added weight of you on your roof could cause a collapse resulting in serious injury.

We recommend that you purchase a roof rake that will help you to remove the snow safely from the ground. You can find them online for as cheap at $40. A small investment can go a long way in protecting the large investment sitting in your garage! Make this part of your shoveling routine- don’t forget to clear the roof!

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The Importance of Tire Maintenance

Frank recently retired and was excited to take his 1970 Plymouth Cuda out more often during his newfound free time. Frank loved his car but during his later working years he didn’t get many opportunities to drive his prized auto. Over the previous decade, Frank frequently tended to his Cuda and kept up with basic maintenance to avoid any issues with his vehicle. Frank never really thought to check were the tires since he rarely took the vehicle out on the road.

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, Frank took his Cuda out for a ride on the highway. As he was gaining speed, the front right tire blew and the tread flew off. The distraction caused Frank to lose control of his vehicle striking a median on the highway. Luckily Frank was not hurt and no other vehicles were involved, but the freed tread damaged the fender and door area.

After having his vehicle towed to the body shop, Frank immediately reported the incident to Condon Skelly’s claims handling team. After completing the investigation and appraisal, it was determined that the failure was due to the age of the tire. Our claims team quickly completed the appraisal and issued payment to the body shop. Frank’s collector car was road ready in no time!

Frank thought his tires were perfectly fine to be on the road. The tread depth was in good condition as was the tire pressure. Frank did not even think about the fact that his tires were nearly 12 years old. As hard as it may be to dispose of an old tire with a healthy looking tread, that is exactly what Frank should have done. Studies show that a tire older than 7 years, regardless of use, poses an increased risk of failure. The chance of a failure increases significantly after 10 years.

Proper maintenance is key to protecting your collector vehicle and avoiding accidents. It is also important to clean up after an afternoon in the garage with your vehicle. Click here to read about the dangers of spontaneous combustion and how to prevent it.

History of the Classic and Collector Corvettes

In the 1950s, General Motors was so large that the U.S. Department of Justice threatened to break it up under antitrust regulations; however, it did not manufacture a sports car. So, after the idea was formed to create an affordable sports car under the GM brand, the Chevy Corvette emerged from Flint, Michigan in 1953. Since then, GM has continued their production–remaining extremely popular in the collector car circuit.

Only 300 Corvettes were manufactured in 1953, and their relatively weak engines made them more of a cruising car than a European-inspired racing car. However, the 1960s brought increased production levels and engine variety as well as special performance editions. With the 1963 Corvette Grand Sport, the brand distinguished itself as a successful race car producer.

Though production boomed from the late 60s to early 80s, this generation of Corvettes lacked quality and power. Fortunately, the C4 was released in 1984 and has gained popularity among collector car enthusiasts who are interested in classic Corvettes that can be driven frequently.

Since the C4, Corvette performance ratings have consistently increased. Current models are technologically advanced “supercars” that demonstrate top-line capabilities. With the brand returning to its glory days and gaining popularity in modern markets, collectors are also becoming more devoted to the classic Corvette. So, not only does the American sports car continue racing, but it’s classic models have become some of the most popular collector cars In the nation.

If you have an affinity for classic, collector Corvette’s, be sure to protect your investment. At Condon Skelly, we share your passion for these iconic vehicles. We’re a group of collectors, enthusiasts, and professionals who specialize in providing complete insurance for all types of collector and custom autos. We will help you secure affordable, industry-leading coverage to protect your classic, antique, or exotic vehicles. For more information, contact us today at (866) 291-5694.

Classic Muscle Cars: History and Significant Vehicles

Introduced in 1949, the American muscle car is defined by its lightweight body and powerful engine. These vehicles consistently dominated street and NASCAR racing, and the industry itself took off in the 1950s. In 1955, Chevrolet released the small block-V8, whose engine became a GM corporate standard for over 50 years. Then in 1964, the “Golden Age” of muscle cars began with the introduction of the Ford Mustang and Pontiac Tempest GTO. The classic Ford Mustang even gave birth to a new market for “pony cars,” which look similar to muscle cars but have significantly less power.

By 1975, governmental safety regulations, an international oil crisis, and high insurance costs led to the muscle car’s downfall. The cost of these vehicles rose dramatically, and Americans began purchasing small compact cars instead. However, collector car enthusiasts remain attached to their classic muscle cars.

Many of these enthusiasts consider Pontiac GTOs (“Goats”) to be the first muscle cars. The GTO became its own series in 1966, and in 1967 the 400 HO option with Ram Air induction became the top Pontiac performer. Of the 82,000 GTOs sold in 1967, 13,827 had the 400 HO option and Ram Air was installed on only 751. Pontiac’s classic muscle cars are often detected by their split grill front-end design, which remains one of the most recognizable features in the industry.

One classic muscle car that is particularly valuable is the 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396s with L78 engine option. Only 100 were produced, making it a rare find for collectors of Chevy classic muscle cars. The Chevelle is distinguished by its classic forward-thrusting front fenders, and the “Super Sport” version includes special wheel covers, red-line tires, and a black-out grill to emphasize the SS badging. Its L78 engine allowed the Chevelle to go 0-60mph in only 6.5 seconds!

Another rare find is Ford’s Mustang Boss 429. This classic model was designed in compliance with NASCAR regulations—with less than 1,400 units produced between 1969 and 1970. Though it did not have the most distinctive appearance or the strongest horsepower, the Boss 429 was praised for being practically hand-built. This is because its engine could not fit smoothly within a standard Mustang, and required extensive modification.

These are only a few examples of the classic muscle cars still collected today, and at Condon Skelly we share your passion for these powerful vehicles. We’re a group of collectors, enthusiasts, and professionals who specialize in providing complete insurance for all types of collector and custom vehicles—even a specific line of muscle car insurance! We will help you secure affordable, industry-leading specialty car insurance coverage to protect your classic, antique, or exotic vehicles. For more information, contact us today at (866) 291-5694.

Posted in: blog, Classic Car Insurance  

Six Quick Tips For Getting Classic Auto Insurance

Six Quick Tips For Getting Classic Auto Insurance

Getting Classic Auto Insurance, the classic car market is booming, despite what many nay-sayers have been forecasting in recent years. In fact, over 5 million classic, antique or vintage vehicles are on the road, and many more remain garaged. Evidence suggests that classic car collecting is by no means fading away. Classic vehicles remain an attractive hobby for many individuals with the discretionary income to spend on these often pricey investments, because of the heritage, community and recreational nature of auto collection. In fact, the internet has transformed the classic auto market, making it much easier to find and buy classic cars, source parts and it’s bringing owners together for community events, discussion groups and chatter about their passion and interest.

Those interested in classic cars understand the worth and value of these vehicles, as well as just how important it is to protect these assets for a variety of exposures. Whether in the shop, at a show, or out on the open road, classic cars have unique insurance needs.

Here are a few quick tips for securing a strong Classic Auto Insurance policy:

Get a quote. According to reports, over half of collectors don’t bother to get a classic car insurance quote from a specialty auto insurer, and end up paying much more through their standard insurance provider.

Know what it’s worth. Have your vehicle appraised to assess it’s current and projected market value. Doing so will help you determine just how much coverage you need to attain based on your vehicles worth.

Think ahead. While a traditional car insurance policy is determined based upon the value of your vehicle decreasing over time, a classic auto insurance policy is enacted on the basis that the value of the older vehicle will appreciate over time. Coverage should be high enough to cover the growing value of the vehicle and its parts.

Pay what you can. Deductibles should reflect your ability to pay for losses out-of-pocket. The higher your deductibles, the lower your premium rates will be.

Drive safely. According to industry data, a single traffic violation or ticket can raise a premium from 10-20 percent, even for classic car owners.

Invest in vehicle tracking. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for classic vehicles to go missing. Tracking products can greatly improve the chance of vehicle recovery and can often save vehicle owners money in the long run.

At Condon Skelly, we know how exciting collecting exotic, classic and sports cars can be. That’s why we specialize in offering complete classic auto insurance. We’re a group of collectors, enthusiasts, and professionals who specialize in insuring all types of collector vehicles. Our team is as passionate about protecting your vehicles as you are about collecting them. We can help you secure affordable, industry-leading specialty car insurance coverage to protect your classic, antique, or exotic vehicles. For more information about our classic car insurance, contact our specialists today at (866) 291-5694.