For drag racers, finding coverage becomes a long and winding road.
For more than 40 years, Horton's been involved with drag racing--the last 20 years in competitive meets. He's seen all kinds of accidents and, as one of the few independent agents in the United States who provides drag racers' property coverage, just as many losses,
Weekdays, Horton is an agent with Meriden, Conn.-based Stone Insurance Agencies. On weekends, he's "Wild Bill," racing an 840-horsepower, 1998 Dan Page hardtail dragster,--mild by racing standards, but with more than five times the power of an average street car, he said. (The dragster that plowed recently into a crowd at a charity event in Tennessee, killing six and injuring many, packed close to 3,000 horsepower.)
Horton said the top professional cars in drag racing, which run on nitromethane, reach 8,000 horsepower, mightier than a diesel electric locomotive. He knows and appreciates what these "rockets on wheels" are capable of: "When you maintain respect for these vehicles it's harder to be surprised by them. While generally docile, they have a way on occasion of reminding you what they truly are."
Insurers have grown to understand the sport quite well. Carriers tend to restrict coverage for damage caused out side of a sanctioned event or drag strip, such as on a public road where there are no guard mils. Even on a sanctioned race track, property coverage is available only for a fairly steep price, Horton said. Also, automobile and homeowners policies exclude race cars, he added.
"A race car used on public roads is not covered," Horton said. "The [Tennessee] accident happened on a public road, so if that car was insured trader my policy, we wouldn't be paying for the damage and crash."
Indeed, the property coverage Horton provides, written on a commercial inland marine form through Great American Insurance Co., excludes coverage when the cars are barreling down the track. However, it covers the cars on the drag strips' premises, when they're moving at slow speed in the paddock area, or while being towed in a trailer.
Across the racing industry, liability coverage for individual racers is difficult, if not impossible, to find in nonsanctioned environment, Horton said.
Sanctioned strips carry their own liability insurance, and under rules of the two major drag racing sanctioning bodies--the National Hot Rod Association and International Hot Rod Association--drivers sign a waiver making them an additional insured under the track's liability policy..
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|Date:||Aug 1, 2007|
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