Looking for Imported Car Insurance?
Whether you need imported car insurance for the latest American muscle car, a high-spec Japanese import, or something a bit more low-key, you are not alone. Thousands of cars are imported into the UK every year.
Finding imported car insurance is arguably one of the trickiest parts of the whole process. This quick guide highlights the benefits and pitfalls to look out for when looking to insure an imported car.
Why is imported car insurance so expensive?
Imports represent an unknown risk and nothing makes insurers more nervous than the unknown. Other reasons as to why insurers get twitchy around imported cars include:
Often imported cars are high performance models or their performance has been modified. Cars with impressive BHP, 0-60 times and handling are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident. Insurance premiums are often proportionate to a raise in power, i.e. a 10% increase in performance, equals a 10% increase in cost.
Specialist parts and mechanics capable of fixing imported cars, can be harder to find in the UK, consequently making them more expensive to repair.
Imported cars look sexy, at the very least they look different and this opens them up to a substantially higher risk of theft.
Not all cars are made equal. Imported cars are often made to different specifications than standard European cars, and 'different' makes underwriters very suspicious.
If insuring imported cars can be a headache, why import in the first place?
People import cars for all sorts of very valid reasons. Affluent, luxury sports and performance car enthusiasts spring to mind immediately, as well as classic car collectors. Drivers with perhaps a tighter budget, but a great deal of knowledge, are often tempted by high specification, easily modified Japanese models.
Similarly, keen off-roaders sometimes choose to import 4x4s built specifically for heavy terrain, whilst other imports are simply brought back to the UK by expats or those looking for a great deal. Imports can often equate to getting a better car, often with lower mileage and possibly paying less tax.
Insurance for grey import cars
Grey import cars are cars not officially sold in the UK though the manufacturer’s dealerships. Typically, they include rare cars, such as high-performance supercars as well as classic cars, heavily modified cars and custom 4x4s.
Because there is no standard UK equivalent for grey import cars, speak to your insurer about an agreed value policy for your car and any modifications. Otherwise you risk receiving market value for parts based on the nearest specification in the event of a claim.
The beauty and rarity of grey imports can make them very attractive to thieves, so be sure to have good security in place. Also be prepared to pay proportionately more for higher performance vehicles.
Insurance for parallel import cars
Parallel imports are cars imported from Europe which confirm to European standards. For example, Peugeots, Renaults or Volkswagens. They have similar parts and value to domestic equivalents, so are easier to insure than grey imports.
Saving money on imported car insurance
If you’re looking to insure an imported car, chances are there’s more involved than just the money. Insuring an imported car is going to be more complicated and expensive than insuring a standard car, but there are options which could lower your premiums depending on the car and its usage.
Are you a collector? Multi-vehicle or collector policies can offer significant discounts.
Insurers affiliated with owner’s or enthusiast’s clubs often offer discounts to members as they recognise your passion for your vehicle.
If your imported car is a second vehicle then a 2nd car or restricted mileage policy may save you money.
If your imported car is a classic, talk to your insurer about a classic car policy.
Imported Car Insurance – Useful FAQs
Imported cars are pretty much an unknown to insurers, so doubts over modifications will not be a great as when insuring a standard UK car which fits neatly within one of their 50 insurance groups.
Modifications to performance, power and handling will most likely increase insurance costs since statistically the more powerful the car, the greater the chance of accident. Cosmetic modifications will also increase the risk of theft and so increase premiums. Modifications to security features though, such as advanced alarm, tracking or immobilising systems could actually lower insurance costs.
Whatever car you are insuring, always check the small print. With imported cars, check for things like:
- Restrictions on mileage or usage
- Exclusions around the provision of courtesy cars, especially if you’re insuring a grey import
- Whether pay-out prices are based on the nearest specification UK equivalent
- If modifications are covered on a like-for-like basis or the standard issue price
If you’re thinking of buying an imported car which you suspect has been ‘tinkered with’, or have any reservations as to possible modifications, it may be worth paying for a professional engineer’s report which you can give to insurers and potential buyers when you come to sell.
If you are purchasing from a reputable dealer and suspect a car may be imported then you are well within your rights to ask if it hasn’t already been confirmed in the listing. Or is you are curious about an existing car that you own, then there’s a number of things you can do.
- Check the chassis number. For example, Japanese cars usually come with a chassis number starting with the code JMZ.
- Use the HPI website. This award-winning service provides a comprehensive selection of information such as a car history check, free car valuation and even an easy MOT history check so you can have all the information you need to help you in your purchase decision.