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This has the exact same issue that nearly all insurance companies seem to have and is the reason I'm with my current insurance company.

I have a 1978 Datsun/Nissan 280Z. Only one insurance company allowed an online/unattended quote for insuring that age car. Only one other company was able to give a quote after talking with them on the phone, all of the others didn't have the ability to do a quote, even for liability only insurance. I went in person to several places and the result was the same. The company that allowed me to get a quote online now has all my other insurance related business (renters/property/full coverage on my new car/etc.). It just so happens that they've been an amazing company to work with, particularly when we've had car related issues (getting rear-ended while stopped at a stoplight, hitting an animal in the middle of the night when there was no room to swerve/stop and rendering the vehicle undrivable, etc.).

Trying to go through the process to see what things are like, the list of makes of cars is an abomination. It tries to filter based on years the make was available, but isn't inclusive (Nissan starts at ~85, but Datsun doesn't exist for older dates, etc.) and ends up being an incomplete list for a large number of years (I sampled the most recent ~5 years and the oldest ~5 years and several major manufacturers are missing) as well as model of cars being incomplete for at least a few makes from those years as well.

On a car that age, even with the insurance comparison websites in the UK, it is often better and cheaper to go to a specialized broker who specialize in vintage/classic cars. They are often much cheaper and since they are small companies tend not to have online quotations.

The UI really isn't a problem, it just comes down to the company having the coplete set of data, which really is down to them either creating this list themselves or paying someone for it. I'm not sure of the case in the US, but if an online part company like http://www.eurocarparts.com/ or http://www.gsfcarparts.com can do it them I don't see what the problem is.

I rotate through antique/classic cars about every 5 years. I buy one in alright condition, slowly fix it up/restore it on weekends until it's in good enough condition to be a daily driver (normal commute is less than 2 miles), drive it for a while, then sell it and use some of the money to buy the next one. They're really not ready for specialized insurance until the last year or two I own them. That being said...because of the distance I drive, and the fact that it's only used for commuting/events/whatever (no out of town trips, not trips to the store, etc.) I typically have it on the super-cheap "I barely drive it" insurance and the company I'm with now (GEICO) has really good rates for antique/show cars.

That's kind of the scenario I was thinking of for the UK, where they have a very limited mileage insurance (2-3k miles per year). Typically owners of these cars only drive them rarely at the weekends, and only in the summer/in dry conditions.

There are lots of UI problems involved with car insurance - some are (in my opinion) actually fairly interesting. In established comparison markets outside the US the big players invest a lot of money in getting the user experience right so that users complete the process (there is a large drop-off).

By far the easiest way to solve this is to do a registration plate lookup: however, I don't know if this is even possible in the US, and it would be on a state-by-state level so a bit of a nightmare. In countries like the UK, where there is a single source of plates that companies can buy access to, it's a lot easier.

Leaky could probably learn a far bit from how insurance quotation engines in the EU and other less complex markets handle this. Here in the UK there are many well established players doing what Leaky do, probably with more success (which is totally down to the fact the UK insurance market is much more centralised).

Registration plate lookup would be a chicken/egg problem here in the States. You need proof of insurance in order to get your registration, so on a vehicle that has no plates, there's no number to give, so wouldn't be able to get insurance. VIN is really the way to handle it, and once you get through the "quote" stage to actually buying it, all the insurance companies can take any VIN (and your info, of course) and spit out how much it actually costs. On a state by state level, I don't imagine it would be difficult to build a system to accurately compare rates. The fact that each state has its own system of minimum requirements, as well as what can be covered, and insurance companies are isolated to a single state (the larger insurance providers are actually corporations with wholly owned subsidiaries in each state) increase this complexity when dealt with on a national level. It's extremely similar to the issues with comparing health insurance plans.

Agree - in the US, try and use the VIN and prompt the user to declare any addons outside of factory stock to be covered.

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