INSURANCE FOR AN M35A2 IN PENNSYLVANIA

BACKGROUND

The M35A2 is a US military truck commonly called "Deuce", or "Deuce and a half" because of its ability to carry 2.5 tons of cargo over just about any terrain, and twice as much on paved roads.  These trucks were built in many different configurations.  The models hobbyists desire most are troop carriers.  These true off-road 6x6 trucks are capable of moving where most other trucks would get stuck.  Their 6 cylinder multifuel engines run dependably on a large variety of fuels.  Fire departments and emergency response services still use M35's today because of their awesome capabilities even under adverse conditions.

 

I found it difficult to find insurance coverage for a truck like this in Pennsylvania where I live and where all my other vehicles are registered.  Having had pick-up trucks for 20+ years, I got used to the convenience of using a pick-up to get materials and tools from places like the Home Depot without having to worry about how I will carry them home.  We sold the last of our pick-up's after 18 years of ownership to a neighbor who restored it.  I miss it.  Transporting long, wide and/or bulky things is always an "issue" with our cars and the Jeep Commander.  We plan to re-landscape parts of our property, and a truck like would help us save time and money as it could haul dirt, plants, stones, tools, etc.

ATTEMPTS

It is important to remember that the guidelines insurance companies follow may differ from one state to another.  Pennsylvania may be one of the more complicated states.  Therefore, an insurer may offer coverage in one state but no coverage in another, or only offer modified coverage.

When you make your own inquiries, be sure to point out whether or not the truck will be used for commercial purposes.  In Pennsylvania, the truck is not insurable as a non-commercial / "personal use" truck because the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) exceeds 12,000 pounds.  It may be easier to insure a bobbed Deuce.

State Farm, Round 1:  When I first became interested in an M35A2, I attempted to insure the truck with State Farm because they insure all my cars and have insured my pick-up's in the past.  State Farm replied they don't offer coverage for this kind of vehicle.

 

Progressive:  Next, I tried my luck with Progressive who insure my camper.  They outright refused to provide coverage.  The representative I spoke to on the phone did not  seem very knowledgeable and put me on hold twice to get answers to my questions.  In the end, they did not offer any coverage at all.

State Farm, Round 2:  When it was time to replace one of our cars, I tried again.  They again did not offer coverage but upon my persisting they offered commercial insurance with a number of restrictions.  I found the restrictions to be incompatible with my expectations of how I would use that truck, and the costs, even with these restrictions in place, were waaaayyyy out of the price range I was willing to accept.

I hadn't pursued insurance for a while then due to travel, holidays, and an extremely snowy winter, but I made my next inquiry in February of 2010.  When other vehicles including many 4x4's got stuck in the snow, Deuces were still running as evidenced by a friend's trip with his M35A2 and videos of rescue missions with an M35A2 playing the part of the hero.

Farmer's Insurance:   This company was recommended on the internet by an M35A2 owner .  I called the local agent.  Apparently,  he uses a variety of insurers for his clientele.  He said, they don't use Farmer's much.  He admitted he had no idea what kind of a vehicle an M35A2 is, collected the usual information, told me he would want to insure ALL my vehicles, and promised to get back.  Because I had not yet picked a specific truck I wanted to buy, I did not have a specific VIN.  I offered the VIN of an M35A2 I found on the internet with the understanding that THAT particular truck wasn't the one I wanted to buy.  If Farmer's would insure that truck though, I thought, they would also insure the truck I would eventually pick.

The agent left a message the next day.  Farmers was not interested in insuring the truck.  He added that he had also contacted several other insurers (without naming them) with the same result.  With a snicker in his voice, he said, all of them appear to be afraid of the size of the truck.

Gulf State Insurance:  Someone on the internet suggested Gulf State Insurance.  I called the headquarters in Oklahoma.  The representative said they insure all kinds of vehicles but I need an agent to insure a truck with them.  I checked but could not find even just one agent in all of Pennsylvania.

Traveller's Insurance:  I realized that many of the insurers suggested on the internet were parts of the Traveller's Insurance group.  I did find a local agent for Traveller's and contacted him.  He was responsive but showed little faith that he could provide me with insurance for this kind of a vehicle.  In the end, he passed on the opportunity.

Erie Insurance:  A tip I got on the internet lead me to Erie Insurance.  I found an agent close to my place of residence (not in Erie, Pennsylvania) who is willing to cover an M35A2.  The quote he provided for a Deuce I was considering but did not buy was significantly above the price the internet tipper had given me.  He did, however, say that he would match the other insured's coverage if I found out what that was.

Haggerty Insurance:  Another owner in PA suggested Haggerty Insurance.  They are only interested in insuring collector's vehicles for parade and show purposes but not vehicles that are actually used for "real" work.  That is not what I have in mind for the M35A2 I want to buy.  I need a "work truck" to help me accomplish my goals at home.

Erie Insurance:  The agent seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth when the time to provide a real quote had come.  One sedan, one SUV and the Deuce were up for insurance at that time.  Despite several follow-up calls I made a week after I had faxed all relevant information to the agency, no quote was provided by the Erie Insurance agent.  I took that as a sign that I should move on and look for coverage elsewhere.

State Farm, Round 3:  In the end, I decided to go with State Farm even though they did not offer the least expensive coverage. 
The truck is insured on a commercial policy that has been customized to suit my non-commercial application.  There are no usage restrictions on this truck.

 

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