A Comprehensive Guide to Race Car Insurance

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Jeffrey Johnson graduated summa cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law and has worked in legal offices and nonprofits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman University and worked in film, education, and publishing. His professional writing has appeared on sites like The Manifest and Vice, and he is the author of a novel ...

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UPDATED: Feb 18, 2022

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Key Takeaways

  • Standard automobile insurance policies usually do not cover racing and racing-related activities
  • Track policies may provide limited liability and medical coverage, but usually do not cover damage to your vehicle
  • Race car insurance provides financial protection for damage that occurs to covered vehicles during specific racing and racing-related activities

For driving enthusiasts, it is hard to match the thrill of pushing your high-performance vehicle to its limits on a race track. However, that thrill comes with some dangers as well. Fortunately, race car insurance provides a way to manage that risk.

Most automobile insurance companies create standardized policies based on the general risks drivers face on a typical roadway. Everyday driving is drastically different from what happens on a race track, so typical liability, collision, and comprehensive coverages end when it comes to racing, high-performance driving education events, and other race-related activities. If your car gets damaged because of a race-related activity, you may have to pay for the damage out-of-pocket unless you have racer insurance.

Motorsport insurance rates vary by policy type, vehicle value, and other factors, but most people pay about $650 – $1,000 per year for coverage. Enter your ZIP code to explore your options.

Types of Race Car Insurance

There are two main types of race car insurance. Off-track policies cover vehicles while they are not on the track. Track day policies cover cars while they are being driven on a track or in the paddock.

On or Off-Track Liability Coverage

Liability coverage pays for injuries or property damage that you negligently cause to another person while operating your covered vehicle. Most race car insurance policies do not provide liability coverage.

Off-Track Limited Collision and Comprehensive Coverage

You can usually purchase either comprehensive by itself or a package that includes both collision and comprehensive coverage. This coverage protects your non-street legal race car while it is:

  • Being loaded or unloaded from a trailer
  • In transport on a trailer
  • On display in a show area or paddock
  • Being driven on the paddock
  • In storage

Though similar in some ways, collision and comprehensive coverages are distinct from one another and may be most useful in a bundled policy for a race car.

Collision Coverage

Collision coverage pays for damage to your covered vehicle that is caused by a collision with another vehicle, object, or person up to the limit of your policy. The limit of most race car insurance policies is a value that you and the insurance company agree is equal to the value of your vehicle.

The amount the insurance company pays you for your damages may be reduced by two amounts: Your deductible and the salvage value of your vehicle. The deductible always applies. This is the amount you must pay before your insurance company pays anything. It is usually based on a percentage of your vehicle’s value. The salvage value, which is equal to the average amount a salvage yard will pay for your wrecked vehicle, only applies if your vehicle is damaged beyond repair. If you decide to keep your car, the settlement for your claim will be the agreed value of your policy less the deductible and the salvage value. If you don’t keep the vehicle, the salvage value will not be deducted from the loss settlement.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage pays for physical damage to your vehicle caused by something other than a collision. Examples of causes of loss usually covered by comprehensive coverage include:

  • Falling or flying objects
  • Hail
  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Natural disasters

Collisions with animals are often covered under comprehensive coverage, even though technically they are collisions. Most comprehensive policies have a separate deductible amount.

Limited Collision and Comprehensive coverage may not apply if you need to drive your street-legal race car to the track.

Off-Track Full Coverage

This coverage is for street-legal race cars. It covers a purpose-built race vehicle, pro-street vehicle, or a performance vehicle that is sometimes used at autocross, HPDE, or time trial events while that vehicle is being driven on a public road. Note that the term “full coverage” can be a bit misleading. No insurance policy covers everything. Generally, what full coverage means is that the policy includes collision and comprehensive coverage.

You might need this coverage if you drive your street-legal race car to the track on public roads.

Track Day Insurance

This motorsport insurance covers damage that happens to your car while you are participating in a high-performance driver’s education event or time trial or driving in the paddock at one of these events. It applies when you, your driving instructor, or an additional driver listed on your policy is driving the vehicle.

Coverage for time trials is usually an optional coverage provided at an additional charge.  You may also be able to purchase coverage for other expenses:

  • Towing and storage
  • Pollutant cleanup and removal
  • Rental car reimbursement
  • Damage to vehicle modifications

Coverage is usually provided on a per-event basis. Average rates for this coverage depend on the value of your vehicle:

  • $190 – $230 per event for a $30,000 vehicle
  • $370 – $410 per event for a $60,000 vehicle
  • $560 – $600 per event for a $90,000 vehicle

These policies do not provide liability coverage.

Annual Non-Competition Track Insurance

These race car insurance policies provide coverage for an unlimited number of non-competition track runs with no need to notify your insurance company before participating. However, your vehicle may need to meet a minimum value requirement to qualify.

Personal Accident Insurance

This type of policy provides coverage for injuries that happen to you while you are racing. Typical coverages include:

  • Death
  • Permanent disability
  • Loss of income
  • Medical expenses
  • Optional coverage for illness

In some cases, these policies may be treated as excess over your health insurance or any insurance provided by the track. This means the policy may not pay anything until other insurance options have been exhausted.

On Track Insurance

This is the only type of motorsport insurance that provides coverage for wheel-to-wheel racing.  Coverages vary by policy but may include:

  • Physical damage to the rolling chassis or shell
  • Accident damage to the engine and gearbox
  • Engine damage
  • Fire
  • Excess insurance
  • Liability coverage

This coverage is offered by a limited number of specialty insurance companies. When shopping for this type of coverage it is a good idea to ask for a thorough explanation, because these are usually customized policies that may vary from one vehicle to another.

When should I get race car insurance?

Whether you need race car insurance depends on two things:

  • Your tolerance for risk
  • The terms of your standard automobile policy

If you are comfortable paying to repair or replace your vehicle out-of-pocket if it is damaged or stolen, then you may not need race car insurance. If not, you need race car insurance for any vehicle or activity that is excluded from coverage on your standard auto policy because of racing-related usage.

If your race car is not street-legal, it probably isn’t covered by your standard auto policy. Additionally, street-legal cars are usually not covered when:

  • Being driven on a track or racing surface
  • Being driven in a high performance or HPDE-type event
  • Being driven in a racing or speed contest event

In some circumstances, you may have limited coverage for injuries and third-party liability through the track owner’s policy. You are usually required to sign a waiver acknowledging that you are responsible for any damage that occurs to your car during racing events.

Track day policies can usually be acquired in a few minutes, though it may be wise to purchase the insurance at least a few days ahead of your scheduled event to make sure you are covered.

Off-track coverage should usually be purchased as soon as you decide you want it. Coverage for wheel-to-wheel racing is not widely available, so give yourself ample time before your event to obtain this coverage.

How much does it cost to get race car insurance?

Rates for race car insurance vary depending on several factors:

  • Your age and driving experience
  • Value of the vehicle
  • Type of coverage
  • Use of the vehicle (HPDE, time trial, wheel-to-wheel, off-track)
  • Your driving history
  • Deductible chosen

Most amateur race car drivers or HPDE participants can expect to pay between $650 – $1,000 per year.

How do I save on my race car insurance premiums?

If you want to save money on your race car insurance there are several strategies:

  • Only purchase the coverages you need
  • Choose a higher deductible
  • Take advantage of discounts offered by driving clubs and other race-related organizations

Your rates may also be affected by how many claims you have made, so safe-driving practices may help keep your rates low.

Can I get race car insurance if I am not a professional driver?

Many race car insurance companies offer options for both professional and non-professional drivers.

Buying Race Car Insurance

If you own a car that you drive in a race or on a racing surface at least part of the time, you may want to consider purchasing race car insurance. This coverage ensures you can afford to get your car repaired and back on the track when an accident happens.

We hope this guide has given you a better idea about when you need to purchase race car insurance. If you’re ready to protect yourself on the track, enter your ZIP code to get a quote.

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