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This could be a warning for DIY enthusiasts working on car projects at home. We say “could” because we hope this is an outlier in how insurance companies behave in 2023. While we won’t go into a rant about the state of home and car insurance, this is not right. A homeowner got a cancellation letter from his home insurer because of the car sitting in his driveway. He is deep into restoring his first car, a 1966 Chevrolet Corvair, and the subject of the cancellation, at his home. 

His own home, on his property. Yes, as one would suspect, this happened in California. The insurer is the California State Automobile Association Insurance Group. It is denying owner CJ Sveen’s insurance due to a “dilapidated car” on the property. But there’s more.

Where was the restoration project sitting?

Gold Chevrolet Corvair front end
Chevrolet Corvair front end | MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty

The Corvair is nestled between Sveen’s house and a high block wall with a trailer directly on the other side. So it’s not exactly visible, that is, except by use of a drone. That’s how California State Automobile Association Insurance Group found the Corvair was even there. Once the source of the information was known, California State Automobile Association Insurance Group began denying it was using a drone.

Specifically, California State Automobile Association Insurance Group told Sveen it was using “drone photos” that showed what it says are “debris, hazardous conditions, tires or a dilapidated car” in his yard. But ABC7 News says the insurer told it the images came from a “fixed-wing airplane or satellite,” and that “the company does not perform surveillance on insured properties using drones.” This raises several questions and concerns.

Drone shot of backyard with woman in chaise lounge
Drone shot over backyard | Al Bello/Getty

No matter the source, is this an invasion of privacy? Is it even legal? Should it be illegal? How does California State Automobile Association Insurance Group justify aircraft and/or satellite imagery? Why is this type of expense justified to its customers? What dangers do project cars create that a running car in the same place doesn’t? 

Insurance companies use drones to assess damage to a home. It claims it is crucial for accessing “properties severely damaged from hurricanes and other natural disasters.” It says that drones speed up the process allowing claims adjusters to see three houses an hour as opposed to one. So it aids adjusters in aiding homeowners. 

Is the insurance company reconsidering its cancellation?

Miniature drone in flight
Miniature drone unmanned aerial vehicle | Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Fair enough. But is using a drone to cancel a homeowner’s insurance in good standing fair? “While you may have had your insurance with the company for many years, paid your premiums, and not filed claims, those factors are not considerations when evaluating property risk,” the insurance company wrote Sveen. And there was no consideration to allow him to clean things up and get a chance to get his insurance back. 

California State Automobile Association Insurance Group is not backing down. In response to Sveen and ABC7, it is secure in its decision despite 15 years as a customer without a single claim. What do you think about Mr. Sveen’s DIY situation?


Do You Really Want A Project Car?