Classic Insurance Visionary Frank Hagerty, Co-Founder of Hagerty, Passes Away at Age 79

Frank Hagerty

Frank Hagerty

It is with great sadness that we must report on the loss of one of great ones in the hobby of classic boating. Franks passion has enabled many of us to enjoy our passion for classic boating without worry and fear. For that we are forever greatful. Here is the news release from Hagerty and some wonderful photos of a wonderful human being. Thanks Frank, you will be deeply missed.

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Hagerty Leaves Huge Impact in the Classic Wooden Boat and Car Hobbies

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (March 18, 2014) – Hagerty announced today that co-founder Frank Hagerty passed away at age 79 at his home after a battle with cancer. Frank’s belief that vintage wooden boats were much more than just “floating pieces of firewood filled with gas” transformed the specialty insurance market for vintage wooden boats and classic cars. His passion led to many visionary ideas within the hobby, such as Agreed Value coverage for all cars and boats, and a one-time liability charge no matter how many cars you own.
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Born on June 16, 1934, Frank Hagerty grew up in Detroit, Mich., relocating to Traverse City, Mich., in his early 20s. He started a successful independent insurance agency, which he sold in 1981, before co-founding Hagerty with his wife, Louise, in 1984. Hagerty Insurance is now the largest company in the world specializing in insurance coverage for classic cars and vintage wooden boats.

Frank shared his love of restoring vintage vehicles with his three children, Kim, Tammy and McKeel, who were allowed to choose their first car and restore it with their father in the family garage.  Kim restored a 1960 Corvair Lakewood station wagon, Tammy a 1960 Porsche 356 B roadster, and McKeel a 1967 Porsche 911S.

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“Those restoration projects were purchased for less than $500 apiece, and they were all incredibly rusty and non-running, but they gave each us lots of time with Dad and an appreciation for restoring and preserving cars,” said McKeel Hagerty, President and CEO of Hagerty.  “Growing up working in the garage with my dad taught us that hard work and perseverance can bring a big reward. Some of our greatest joys were hearing an engine fire up for the first time.
“But he also taught us the importance of taking care of the less fortunate. He was incredibly generous to people even in his final days,” McKeel said.  “The values he taught – the importance of preserving history, working hard and taking care of people – eventually allowed us to grow Hagerty from a single employee in the basement of my parents’ house to a team of more than 600 employees worldwide.”
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Frank retired more than 20 years ago, when he transitioned Hagerty to Louise and, later, to the next generation of Hagertys. Since then, his time has been devoted to the activities he enjoyed most: tinkering and restoring vintage cars and boats, and building scale-model railroads. Frank’s lifelong love of the automobile culminated in 2012 when he located an original “Dunesmobile” — a 1948 Ford convertible that was used to chauffer tourists on the Sleeping Bear Dunes — a car he had dreamed of driving since he was a teenager.  Now fully restored, the Dunesmobile received “Best of Class” honors at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Frank’s last ride in a collector car was to accept that award.

8 replies
  1. Philip Andrew
    Philip Andrew says:

    Yeah well that wasn’t what I actually said.
    ” What a legend, what a legacy.” A life well lived. Kia Kaha.

  2. Wilson Wright
    Wilson Wright says:

    Frank seemed to live life to the fullest with, cars, boats and railroad models and handcars and in business, he was truly a visionary. Our sypmpathies and condolences go to Louise and the family.

  3. Carla
    Carla says:

    Thanks Matt for recognizing the legacy of Frank Hagerty and his importance to our hobby. Although the press release provides a glimpse into the life of this special individual, his family and his many contributions surrounding the classic boat and classic car hobby, I must add my thoughts (go figure, right 🙂 For 25 years, I had the distinct pleasure of knowing this individual outside of our hobby. Frank was such a caring and giving man to anyone that crossed his path…I was truly blessed to have met Frank (and definitely Louise Hagerty) in April, 1989…they changed my life!!

  4. Jimmuh
    Jimmuh says:

    Thanks Frank, for creating something great. And thanks also to your family, for carrying on the tradition you established!

  5. Alex
    Alex says:

    I’m sorry I overlooked this posting until today.

    Frank sounds like an incredible man. A visionary, and a gentleman at the same time. Such a rare breed. Their kind leave the word a much better place.

    My own Dad was like that. Though it’s been 10 years since I lost him, I retain an overwhelming sense of awe and gratitude. And, to this day, I can still hear his voice whenever I need advice.

    Perhaps that’s the most intimate gift people of character leave behind for their families.

    I wish the Hagerty family these same comforts.

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