By Bill Crowley, Chubb & Son
Many car collectors are shrewd not to drive their cherished vehicles to automobile shows and the racetrack, given the risk of a collision or other perils. But, just because the cars are stored in a trailer for the roundtrip excursion doesn’t completely erase the possibility of a wreck or an even more pernicious risk—theft.
At Chubb, we have seen our share of claims for damaged vehicles improperly secured inside a trailer. We’ve also endured significant losses caused by theft, including a rather famous heist—James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 from the movie “Goldfinger,” valued at $4.2 million. In June 1997 the car disappeared from the airport hangar where the owner had stored it. Unfortunately, the facility lacked proper security. The crime has yet to be solved, and rumors still abound that the jaunty car was whisked away in a plane—007-style. Who knows?
Most claims for theft are far less spectacular, though equally distressing to owners. Thieves typically target vehicles in storage or in transit. It may look sharp pulling a trailer that’s emblazoned with your racing team logo, until you look inside the box and realize the 1967 Alfa Romeo Duetto race car is gone. Not that an all-white trailer with no markings is the perfect solution—there are bandits that target just the trailers for theft, too, literally dumping the contents!
Savvy thieves, on the other hand, know just what they’re after. It’s an all-too-common-scenario: You drive a vintage Alfa Romeo to a show, park it outside the hotel, and awake to discover the trailer’s doors ajar, its interior yawning. Or worse—the trailer is nowhere to be seen. How can you ensure a better night’s sleep?
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years. If you’re going to pay for a shipper, hire a reputable and experienced transportation company, one that specializes in moving expensive automobiles. Car clubs can point you in the right direction, as can fellow owners. If you must transport the vehicle(s) yourself, make sure the trailer is double-locked to the truck—where the receiver attaches to the the hitch ball and where the ball mount is attached to the receiver. Of course, this doesn’t obviate the risk of both the truck and trailer being stolen in tandem. To reduce this threat, consider investing in a wheel lock or a parking enforcement boot just like the police use. Both are available online.
What else? Alarming the doors of a trailer and advertising this will make would-be thieves reconsider their intentions. Also install motion-sensor alarms. Both security protocols make sense for selected storage facilities, as well. A final caveat: Don’t leave cars unattended for long periods of time. All too often we get a claim for theft in which the owner tells us he or she hadn’t visited the car(s) in months. It just makes it that much more difficult for the police to find the car.
As for the aforementioned Bond car—well, now we own it. Chubb paid the claim in full and assumed ownership from a bill of sale. If you happen to see it, let us know. Or contact Miss Moneypenny.
About the Author – Bill Crowley has been racing cars since his late teens and has restored several vintage British automobiles. Today, he owns an open-cockpit D Sports Racer and regularly competes at Watkins Glen International and other tracks. For the past 34 years, Bill’s “day job” has been at Chubb & Son, a leading insurer of valuable vintage vehicles and other collectible cars for more than four decades. As its worldwide automobile claim manager, he has seen his share of unusual losses—insured and uninsured. As someone who knows cars inside out, he has unique insight and singular wisdom on how to avoid them. Visit www.chubbcollectorcar.com for more information about classic car insurance.