What type of insurance do you need for your classic car?

Taking great care of your beloved classic car isn't enough -- you need to insure it properly. See more pictures of classic cars.

There's a reason you call that hunk of metal in your garage your baby. Whether it's a cream-colored '37 Buick, a turquoise '57 Chevy or a cherry red '77 Camaro Z-28, you treat it like one of the family -- maybe a little better. But no matter how protective you are of your kid-on-wheels, you'll still need to insure it. Driving a classic car even short distances on the road without auto insurance is both risky and illegal.

About half the owners of antique and classic cars put them on their regular auto insurance policies [source: Kristof]. Not a good idea. Ordinary insurance is for ordinary cars. The book value of an ordinary car goes down every year, and so does the total amount the insurance company will pay if it's damaged. Well-maintained classic cars, on the other hand, hold their value and often appreciate in price. You definitely want insurance that recognizes the real market value of your car.

The special, classic car insurance that you should look for will do that, and also includes standard liability, collision and comprehensive coverage. In the event of an accident or other loss, the insurer pays to repair or replace your car as a valuable classic, not an old junker.

And here's the bonus: Even though it offers this higher coverage, classic car insurance usually costs less than regular auto insurance. Insurers know that you drive your cream puff carefully, don't rack up the miles and polish it to a shine every Saturday. That means you're less likely to have an accident, and the company is willing to give you a break on your premiums, typically anywhere from 20 to 40 percent less than a regular policy [source: Krisof].