The crunch of breaking fiberglass is a nightmarish sound to any Corvette owner. The repair process that comes after an accident can be equally unnerving and lasts far longer. Here's how to get the damage repaired and the event behind you as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Choosing Your Corvette's Insurance
The starting point is to choose your insurance company wisely. The main reason for buying insurance is to be properly taken care of when an accident occurs. Shopping for insurance by price alone can result in the purchase of a product that lets you down when you most need it. If you're dealing with the major automotive insurers, sometimes referred to as "standard carriers," ask your friends and associates what companies they have used and what their claims experiences have been.

I'll start things off by giving a conditional endorsement to State Farm, which has insured my vehicles for decades and generally has been good to deal with. The rates have been competitive, and, when needed, the company has come through after a little work on my part. The limitation with State Farm, or any major insurer, is that there is little likelihood the inspector or appraiser will have sufficient knowledge of older specialty vehicles. This is less of an issue for C4, C5, and C6 owners, but it is a real concern for owners of earlier Corvettes or any customized car.

Consider the added benefit of choosing an insurance company that has a local agent or office to assist you when an accident occurs. I value having people nearby I can call or visit if a problem or dispute arises. For example, if someone hits your car, you may have to come up with your deductible until the claim is settled with the other person's insurance company. A local agent may work to get the other insurance company to issue a check for the deductible right away. It may be more difficult to get such personal service from Internet insurance providers.

Is Collector-Car Insurance Right For You?
There are alternatives to the major insurers for some Corvette owners. Collector-car insurers, such as Heacock Classic, specialize in, well, special cars. A particular advantage of collector-car insurers can be insuring for an agreed value. If the car is stolen or severely damaged, having an agreed value in the policy will prevent having to establish a value after the fact. With most family auto policies, the car is valued at its bluebook value, sometimes called ACV or Actual Cash Value (the depreciated value)-and that value is subject to debate.

Another potential problem can arise from limits an insurance company places on the labor rate it's willing to pay. Although the company can't force you to use its preferred shops, the maximum rate it will pay may be, say, $42 per hour, while your chosen specialty shop charges $70. If your shop does the repair, you may have to pay the difference. Read the fine print to determine the labor-rate limitations. The rate may need to be negotiated with the shop prior to the work being commenced. In other words, pay particular attention to shops that have not had their labor rate approved by your insurance company, or you may be held accountable for the additional repair costs.

Collector-car insurance policies can offer a number of other advantages. Particularly important is that the claim adjusters are much more likely to be experienced with special-interest cars. This can make a world of difference when estimating the true cost of repairs on an older vehicle. And because collector-car insurers are smaller, they're not as likely to try to steer policyholders to particular shops, instead allowing car owners to select their preferred repair facility. Another Heacock advantage is that all policies provide instantaneous, automatic insurance coverage when a new collector car is purchased. An additional $10 a year covers flatbed towing for the insured car, a real plus in the event of a breakdown or a flat. Heacock can also insure cars during restoration, insure race cars, and even insure a car club for general liability or shows.

It's important to point out, however, that collector-car insurers don't insure all Corvettes. Surprisingly, it isn't the age of the Corvette that matters. The prime requirement is that the car only be used occasionally. Each of the drivers in the household must have another car for daily transportation.