Tuning in to Classic Car Talk with John Abrams will leave you smiling. Iroquois member John Abrams has turned his passion for classic cars into a niche that has driven his independent insurance agency. Two-time winner of Hagerty’s Top Gear Agent award, Abrams loves what he does every day and the clients who share his passion. If John’s customers learn to trust him with their toys, he knows they will trust him with their other insurance as well. Sounds like a recipe for success to us! Check out what some of our other agencies are doing here.
Edwin K Morris (5s):
Welcome to the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois Group. Iroquois is your trusted advisor in all things, insurance. I am Edwin Kay Morris. John Abrams has been an Iroquois Member for 22 years and lives eats and breathes cars. Starting in high school, John owned his own body shop as well as a detailing business. After college, John followed his love of cars towards the auto insurance industry. Focusing on classic cars has been very beneficial for John. He has been selling Hagerty classic car policies since 1991. When they were first offered out of the 2,600 customers that the Abram’s agency serves over 600 clients are with Hagerty.
Edwin K Morris (51s):
What is exactly the definition of a classic car is a different than an antique car.
John Abrams (57s):
Yeah. A Classic car normally, is a car that’s over 25 years old. That’s the definition of it.
Edwin K Morris (1m 4s):
So is there an antique car?
John Abrams (1m 5s):
Edwin K Morris (1m 6s):
Oh, so what’s the definition of that?
John Abrams (1m 8s):
Well, antique car is just a really old antique
Edwin K Morris (1m 11s):
Car. Anything beyond that? 25.
John Abrams (1m 14s):
Yeah. As soon as you have 25, you’re in that antique mode. Hmm.
Edwin K Morris (1m 19s):
Well, how many classic cars have you owned or antique cars?
John Abrams (1m 24s):
Edwin K Morris (1m 25s):
All American made?
John Abrams (1m 27s):
No, MG MGC all kinds of fun stuff.
Edwin K Morris (1m 33s):
It requires a how many car garage?
John Abrams (1m 38s):
Well, what’s nice is I’ve always worked on a car, fixed it up, enjoyed it, and then moved on to the next one.
Edwin K Morris (1m 46s):
So s the term for that? Still Motorhead.
John Abrams (1m 49s):
Yeah. I, you know, I like that. It’s an enjoyable side of the business. Yeah. Being a Motorhead,
Edwin K Morris (1m 54s):
A friend of mine that is in vehicles that as I was, we talked about the old magazine we used to get the order stuff from long before the internet. Do you remember JC Whitney? Absolutely. So he looked it up. It’s still, it’s still
John Abrams (2m 9s):
Right. It still exists. I actually have a 69 catalog in my garage.
Edwin K Morris (2m 15s):
John Abrams (2m 17s):
What’s neat about it is, is that you can see that the prices of things. And now, you know, when you go to a car show and you see certain things, you see them in and people are like, Oh, this was coveted. And you’re like, well, you could have bought that at JC Whitney for $12
Edwin K Morris (2m 33s):
When did it occur to you to make this passion into business?
John Abrams (2m 42s):
Well, I’ve been in the insurance business for 37 years and successfully had an agency and have still have an agency and decided that I really wanted to do some fun things. And I thought about what’s fun for me. And I’ve always been around cars all my life. My father actually built cars to go to high school. My brother always worked on cars and he is an engineer GM. I always just love seeing cars, detailing them, doing bodywork, all that stuff. And I said, you know what? I’m going to get into the classic side of the business and enjoy myself. So that 10 years ago, I said, I’m going to specialize with Hagerty Insurance.
John Abrams (3m 26s):
And it is just been phenomenal.
Edwin K Morris (3m 28s):
That’s a great start, it actually was icing on the cake for you by the sounds of it, because you’re able to flip something you’re totally passionate about and bring a business sense around it and say, Hey, I know the subject matter. I can tell you all day about a two barrel Rochester carburetor all day long. That that is a great niche. So how many niches can there be in the insurance game?
John Abrams (3m 52s):
Well, in the niches, in terms of, you know, there’s all kinds of niches from airlines to single props, to helicopters, to boats, to antique boats, to all kinds of different things. But I think the classic car side really identifies with a lot of people. What I also recognize is that classic car is the toy of the insured. So if you can play with their toys well, and they’re comfortable with you, they give you the rest. So it really, really works out well.
Edwin K Morris (4m 24s):
So your calling card is I know what I’m talking
John Abrams (4m 28s):
About without a doubt.
Edwin K Morris (4m 29s):
What’s your marketing like? I mean, do you go to car shows and hang out? Do you sponsor thing? How do you get out there?
John Abrams (4m 37s):
I sponsor a lot of car shows, but generally I just love to mingle and talk to different people. And I see cars that really identify with my passion. And when I start to talk to people, they see that I have the Hagerty sign on my shirt or whatever, and they ask the question and I just go through the, what it is to have Hagerty and what the pricing is and what I can do for them. And they say, give me a quote. And I work with that. And then I get referrals and referrals and referrals and referrals. And that’s how it works.
Edwin K Morris (5m 12s):
What is the most oddest vehicle you’ve had to quote?
John Abrams (5m 20s):
Well, probably in the exotic side cars that are just off the wall. I have this one client that has it’s called the Revenza. And the Revenza is actually based on a Jeep Wrangler. They take this car, they completely re body it completely do everything, put a different motor in it, like a Hellcat motor in it and do all kinds of stuff, smoke screen. And you know, all this stuff. And the car ended up being $460,000. And I asked them for like a whole list of what he did. And you could see that he, he was like adding and adding and adding.
John Abrams (6m 4s):
And it was just amazing that it was just like continuous. Like he could just, he was going to, you know, add another hundred grand to the car because he wanted it. And it was very affluent guy in Colorado. Then he ended up having a huge car collection, besides
Edwin K Morris (6m 21s):
I’ve got to ask are all these machines street legal or do they just keep them in a shelf somewhere? There’s not licensed. They’re not out for
John Abrams (6m 30s):
Some cars are our show cars, but typically most of the cars are registered for the street. Does a person want to take it on the street sometimes? No, because they’re at such a point that their trailer Queens, and it would just be heartbreaking to drive it on the street and get it chipped up or dirty or whatever. And then there’s cars that you would think would be trailer Queens, but people will actually love to drive them because they put so much passion into the car.
Edwin K Morris (7m 2s):
Most of them are probably not in New York state. I’m guessing
John Abrams (7m 5s):
That’s not true. No, I’d have to,
Edwin K Morris (7m 8s):
I’d have to. Soon Nevada, Arizona, California.
John Abrams (7m 12s):
Oh, New York is a very passionate state. Pennsylvania is very passionate, California, Florida, Kansas, Alaska. I have a guy that has a, has a massive collection of cars in Alaska, where he just buys them and puts them in garages. And it’s just amazing to me,
Edwin K Morris (7m 30s):
You know there is a lot of maintenance with a vehicle, regardless if you’re using it or not. Actually, I think it’s a little more maintenance heavy if you’re not using them because things can go awry that you’re not aware of in this marketplace. Is there something that is specified to how it’s used, you know, maintained? How does that all work?
John Abrams (7m 51s):
Well, Hagerty doesn’t have any kind of restrictions for use. They want the person to actually enjoy their classic. That’s their motto. And it’s also a feeling that they don’t want to restrict the love or the passion of the car. But when it comes to cars that just sit around, they also, there’s all kinds of other people that are involved that do concierge work, where they’ll take a car and they’ll maintain it for you. And actually Hagerty has a garages now that are popping up throughout the United States. It’s called garage plus social. And basically what it is, is they’ll take your car in, they’ll maintain it on a battery tender.
John Abrams (8m 34s):
If it needs an oil change, they do that. If it needs to be detailed that it’s done and it’s delivered to the person so they can use it. And it depends on, you know, locale.
Edwin K Morris (8m 46s):
We’re also handling storage and every, so you just call, Hey, I want my car for the weekend. Yeah, we’ll be right there.
John Abrams (8m 52s):
Hagerty. That’s a concierge, a department that as a Hagerty insured, you can call them up and say, Hey, I can’t find this part. Can you find it for me? And they will help find that part.
Edwin K Morris (9m 5s):
John Abrams (9m 5s):
Who can I use to repair my vehicle? And they’ll have like a certain group of people that they know that are on a list that are preferred, that had good referrals from other past clients. And they do that.
Edwin K Morris (9m 19s):
So what kind of claims do you actually see coming in on a classic or
John Abrams (9m 23s):
Not many, but when you do, it’s usually something like a vandalism or a fire, you know, that’s typically the claim. Sometimes you’ll be having a situation where a person will be driving to a car show and another party will hit into that person. That’s the typical cars are very, very well taken care of people are very responsible. It’s their baby. They don’t want to get it ruined, you know,
Edwin K Morris (9m 56s):
Is a 1967 Chevy four-door Impala a classic?.
John Abrams (10m 1s):
Yes, absolutely. In fact,
Edwin K Morris (10m 3s):
I wish I had that car back.
John Abrams (10m 4s):
Yeah. In fact what’s happened is, is that there’s a whole Renaissance of station wagons four doors that those cars, which were not really coveted before people are starting to look at them and say, you know what? It’s neat that I can throw the family in a, in a station wagon or throw the family in a four-door and go to a car show. And it’s not just looking at a car, it’s a whole social situation. You’re all about the people.
Edwin K Morris (10m 30s):
Right. And engagement in the, in the conversation. Right? The one thing about the 67 Chevy four-door impala I’ll say, is you could fit about eight full size adults in that vehicle pretty easily. Yeah. It was a boat.
John Abrams (10m 43s):
Edwin K Morris (10m 44s):
What is this Hagerty top?
John Abrams (10m 46s):
What Hagerty did was they started to look at the agents out in the field and basically they’ve picked the top 20 agents throughout the country and the rank them based on production and quality of business and so on. And I was named one of those 20 agents. So I thought that was really wonderful
Edwin K Morris (11m 9s):
John Abrams (11m 10s):
Edwin K Morris (11m 11s):
Twice now. So did that. So now what, now you have your own parking spot, but
John Abrams (11m 19s):
What they do is they sent you some shirts. They sent you an award. They give you some perks. I have my own underwriting team at Hagerty, which gives me the ability to be able to do some things that are done fast. You know, I know my stuff. So basically they know that I have everything in a row. So when I call an underwriter, it’s a done deal.
Edwin K Morris (11m 41s):
My last question I’ve got to throw out here is that, do you see the car more than you see the owner? And the reason I asked that is I assume there’s a tight group of folks that, Hey, if that comes up for sale buying it, do you just end up seeing the same vehicle with a different one?
John Abrams (11m 58s):
Yeah. What’s funny is, is that you don’t really see the same vehicle all the time. That’s, that’s a real misnomer. Basically. There’s so many vehicles out there that are hidden gems that finally are starting to come out and being shown. It’s just amazing what I’ve found with Hagerty. Just being that agent running around, going to all these different places. There’s so many cars that are so cool and everyone has their preferences. You know, not everyone wants that Chevelle or everyone wants that GTO. Some people want the caddy, someone not the Lincoln. Sometimes they want the Jags.
John Abrams (12m 40s):
Sometimes they want to B Concourse. Sometimes they’ve just wanted to be a driver. Sometimes they just want to relive their youth. You know, I mean, I have a variety of vehicles. I just bought a 78 MGB, but I have a 72 Lincoln Mark four and I have a 55 Cadillac Fleetwood, you know? And then I have a Roush Mustang. I mean, it’s a whole variety of vehicles and there’s a lot of people like that that have not the same vehicle or then you’ll have some people that just like, I want to have the 32 Ford, you know, and they have them all or that type of thing.
Edwin K Morris (13m 15s):
So what’s your daytime driving vehicle then if you’ve got all these in the wings, what, what’s the daily use? You got a minivan. What are you driving?
John Abrams (13m 25s):
No, I have a 2021 Denali XL that I go to car shows with because I can shove as much as I can of giveaways into the back of the car. That’s what I draw us. And I just bought the car a month and a half ago, two months ago. And I already have 8,500 miles on the car that kind of tells you how many miles I drive. And it’s all going to different venues, restoration shops, all kinds of places, classic auto mall and Pennsylvania, Whitehall restoration up in Massachusetts, all kinds of different places, Morton restoration in Connecticut.
Edwin K Morris (14m 1s):
I can imagine that it’s hard for you to leave the office and go home because it’s just your cars. You’re just cars all the time.
John Abrams (14m 10s):
Wow. You see behind me, right.
Edwin K Morris (14m 12s):
Oh, I see that. Yes. There’s about 25 vehicles behind him in different sizes and shapes in model, model, form. They’re not all big size.
John Abrams (14m 24s):
Yeah. And that’s, and that’s like a one 32nd of my collection of vehicles. And how that came about was that I was trying to teach my children what the cars were, what they looked like, and they can identify a lot of cars. So I’d buy a model at a car show or at a different store and they’d say, Oh, okay. I know what that is. So now it just blew up. It became a phenomenal collection, you know
Edwin K Morris (14m 53s):
so now there’s insurance for model classic cars.
John Abrams (14m 58s):
Yes, absolutely. Hagerty has that. They have it.
Edwin K Morris (15m 2s):
What do you know about that?
John Abrams (15m 4s):
And there’s other,
Edwin K Morris (15m 5s):
So let’s have another talk soon, John. Thank you for being here. It was a pleasure to hear your experience.
John Abrams (15m 12s):
Edwin K Morris (15m 13s):
Thanks for listening to this edition of the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois group, Iroquois, your trusted advisor for all things, insurance, and remember get out of the office and sell. I am Edwin Kay Morris, and I invite you to join me for the next edition of the trusted advisor podcast.