Eight years ago, Bill Lutz and David Rosen started Central Ohio Insurance Services with a focus on home, business and auto insurance, but before long, Lutz was asked by another insurance company if he would take to market on-track and off-track race car insurance.
“That insurance company didn’t have anyone representing the race car insurance market properly, and because I was an insurance agent and a racer, they felt I could,” said Lutz, who races a ’69 Camaro Pro Mod with the NMCA and other series and has been at the track when a customer has wrecked and has processed the claim on-the-spot. “That company ended up being bought out by another company, but I took the program.”
In addition to being able to receive race car insurance through Central Ohio Insurance Services (614-861-3100 or www.coiservices.com), drivers in the NMCA, NMRA and other series can receive race car insurance through Rick Riehl of Hartland Insurance Group in Michigan (248-375-4225 or www.hartlandinsurancegroup.com) or Mike Flake of Race Team Specialists in Nevada (855-372-4227). Levels of coverage and cost vary depending on things like speed of the car and value of the car, and can include haulers, trailers, equipment and more.
Read on for more from Lutz about covering the cherished race car.
You know firsthand the importance of putting insurance on your race car, as a devastating fire did a lot of damage to your ’69 Pro Mod Camaro in 2012.
Yes, unfortunately. I pushed a headgasket in 2012, and it started a fire that burned everything from the windshield forward, including all of the wiring, struts, tires and wheels. It cost $40,000 to fix, and if I hadn’t had insurance, I would have been out for a year or more, and I would have had to call in a lot of favors from sponsors. Look at it this way: If your car was totaled, do you have the money to build that car and have it out in three months? I don’t.
Your insurance company, Central Ohio Insurance Services, offers insurance to drivers in all fifty states, as well as in other countries.
That’s correct. We write in all fifty states, which is important because not all companies do. We’ll also write in any country, and we currently have customers in Canada, Puerto Rico, Australia, Mexico and Sweden.
What’s covered with your race car insurance policies?
We offer two different policies. One is off-track insurance, which covers vehicles to and from the track and in the pit area, but not in between the walls on the race track. Then, we offer off-track and on-track combined. When you buy on-track insurance, off-track insurance automatically comes with it. Another thing we offer that no other insurance company in the world offers is, if a person insured by us hits another car, we’ll cover the damage on the other car by up to $10,000. We’re the only insurance company that covers fire without collision, meaning, we’ll cover a fire that happens without a collision causing it. We literally insure everything from Top Fuel cars on down, and we currently have customers in NMCA, NMCA WEST, NHRA Pro Stock and many other series and classes. About seventy percent of what we cover is heads up-style cars, but we offer coverage for cars that run eleven-seconds, too. Off-track and on-track insurance starts at about $600 a year for an eleven-second car valued at $20,000, and of course it goes up as the car goes faster. Our policies are broken down into ETs, so anything slower than 8.50 in the quarter-mile is one rate, anything 8.50-7.50 is another rate and anything quicker than 7.50 is the highest rate. Our most expensive rate is four percent of the vehicle value. There are deductibles like regular insurance, and for on-track deductibles, it’s ten percent of the value of the vehicle, and for off-track deductibles, it’s a straight $1,000. We allow racers to make monthly payments if they choose to. Also, if a person insured by us hits another car, we’ll cover the other vehicle’s damage by up to $10,000, and that’s a premium of only $250 a year.
What do drivers need to be prepared to tell you when they call to inquire about placing insurance on their race cars?
We need to know the quickest ET the car will run and what the driver feels the car is worth. We don’t require an appraisal because the insurance company I work with trusts me enough with their products because I know what it costs to build and repair these cars, because I’ve owned everything from an eleven-second car to my current five-second Pro Mod Camaro. I do an assigned value. If someone wants $250,000 worth of coverage on an eleven-second car, I come back and suggest $40,000 worth of coverage because that’s the real value. We would also need photos of the car and an application, and we would ask the racer which races he planned to go to, but we definitely don’t charge per race. It’s just for informational purposes. I can have your car insured in fifteen minutes. In fact, I had a racer call me from the World Street Nationals in Orlando, Florida, for coverage, and he was literally sitting in his car getting ready to run and wanted insurance. Within fifteen minutes, he had it.
Do you think some drivers decline to inquire about race car insurance because they feel it will be too costly?
That’s a big part of it, and most racers don’t have it. In fact, if we insured two percent of everyone who races in the United States, I’d be surprised. Another part of it is some racers think that their cars are insured through their home and auto policies, and that’s a big misconception.
What makes up most of your claims?
Wrecks will always be the biggest claim because of the amount of damage done. In addition to wrecks, we cover everything from theft to floods and weather-related damage, and if the race car is sitting in the garage and a tornado hits it, we cover that, too. What’s of growing concern right now is theft of race cars. I honestly believe that there’s a ring of thieves targeting race cars. There has to be more than one person doing that, and they have to be working in cahoots.
You’ve mentioned that most of your customers have faster cars as opposed to slower cars. Why do you think that is?
Honestly, I think it’s because racers with slower cars don’t think anything will happen to their cars, or they’re willing to risk it. The truth is, whether you have an eleven-second car or a five-second car, you put into yours what the next person puts into theirs, and that’s what you can afford to put into it. So, essentially, everyone has the same thing invested, and that’s everything they have. I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to go racing without having insurance on my car, and it baffles me how many people do. Drag-racing is like poker in that you’re going all in, pushing all your chips to the middle and hoping nothing happens if you don’t have insurance. It’s a gamble.