"If you're going to get into the classic car specialty market, you need to learn all about classic cars just like we did," says independent agent Peter Sacchetti. "You should never speak about something you don't understand—and that includes the car and the product you are selling to insure the car."
Warwick, Rhode Island
How did you get started at your agency?
My father worked for John Hancock Life Insurance Company for about 25 years. When they pulled out of Rhode Island, he took over the small book of business they were willing to give to him and started Sacchetti Insurance Agency in 1990 with one other person—the agency gradually got bigger and bigger. I began working with my dad after high school in 1993.
Why classic cars?
As a teenager, I was always buying and flipping cars because that's what I loved to do. After joining the agency, I remember the day my father invited me to go to a classic car event with him. I owned an old Camaro and he had a '62 Oldsmobile Sapphire. At the event, we met a gentleman who sparked the idea of getting into the classic car insurance business. It made sense since we had struggled to find coverage for my dad's car. We knew there was a market.
At that time, most people had their classic cars insured with Allstate or Liberty Mutual. But we knew people would want to open their doors and let us in because they would realize they were talking to two guys who were extremely passionate about classic cars, who understand the value in them and all the blood, sweat and tears that go into keeping and restoring them.
Challenges in the classic car market?
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, I have not been able to attend car shows like I used to. Every Saturday and Sunday, there was always a car show somewhere. To not be able to see these people—that aren't just customers anymore, they're friends—has been difficult.
The new generation of classic cars, known as tuners. These are the car guys that are now coming of age. I recently met a gentleman that had put $200,000 into an '86 Volkswagen Jetta, which was a complete shock to me. But when I looked underneath the car you could tell he trailered the car everywhere as a show car. If this was a '67 Camaro I was trying to get insurance for, I could talk my way through it, but this is a new trend and these cars are just now being accepted by the insurance companies and the general public as classic specialty cars.
Advice for a fellow agent?
If you're going to get into the classic car specialty market, you need to learn all about classic cars just like we did. You should never speak about something you don't understand—and that includes the car and the product you are selling to insure the car.
Favorite success story?
While at a car show, I spotted a beautiful Corvette. I love all classic cars, but Corvettes are my favorite. After speaking to the owner and providing coverage for his car, I was also able to take over his commercial trucking account—this was the largest account I ever sold.
Pictured above: Paul W. Blondin (left), office manager, Sacchetti Insurance Inc., with Peter Sacchetti (right).
Olivia Overman is IA content editor.