In recent years, a growing trend in the car market has seen buyers looking further afield for their next car, often buying from overseas. There are a number of reasons for this trend, namely, imported cars are often cheaper than UK models, and in many cases, are built to a higher specification.
As the demand for imported cars has risen, the importing process has improved greatly, in particular when bringing cars from Japan into the UK.
However, while you may be tempted to snap up a reliable run-around or a sporty coupe imported from overseas, you need to be aware that it might be difficult to find affordable imported car insurance for these vehicles.
Therefore, it’s even more important to do your research and shop around when looking for imported car insurance quotes. Below we take a look at how to find the right imported car insurance policy at the right price for your circumstance.
How much will insurance cost?
Car insurance policies for imported cars tend to be higher in price than policies for conventional UK-bought cars. There are a few reasons for this increase in premiums.
Firstly, more expensive premiums may reflect the fact that it can be harder and more expensive to source spare parts for imported cars, which makes these vehicles more costly to repair in the event of a claim.
In addition to this, imported cars are often built to a higher specification than conventional cars, meaning the likelihood of accidents is higher, because they can be driven faster.
Furthermore, costs may be higher where an imported vehicle has not been constructed to the same standards as a European model.
The car could be a left-hand drive, for example. While many insurers will insure left-hand drive vehicles at the same rate as right-hand vehicles, any difference in the way the vehicle is constructed can potentially have an impact on price.
As always, the key is to check the policy before signing when looking for any car cover.
Different types of imported car
When it comes to buying a car from overseas, the key thing to understand is that the cost of imported car insurance depends on the category into which your vehicle falls.
According to the AA, there are two types of imported vehicle – ‘grey’ imports and ‘parallel’ imports.
So-called “grey imports” are cars built outside the EU and which do not conform to European standards. Japanese imports, for example, fall into the “grey import” category.
If you buy one of these models you may struggle to get motor insurance, as some firms simply will not offer cover or they will only do so at an inflated price.
Where an insurer offers cover at a higher price, it usually reflect the extra costs involved in sourcing, transporting and installing any spare parts for the imported vehicle, if and when they are required.
It’s also worth noting that grey imports may be of a higher performance specification than their European equivalents, especially when it comes to features such as power, output, weight, suspension, and they may also have different electronic systems.
Japanese imports also tend to fall into this category of higher-performance specs. Statistically, this increases the likelihood of the driver having an accident, which can have a knock-on effect on imported car insurance, resulting in higher premiums.
Crucially, if an insurer is willing to offer imported car insurance, the firm will require you to undergo a process of testing under the Single Vehicle Approval scheme; this needs to happen before your motor is legal to drive on UK roads.
In addition, your insurer will also ask a series of detailed questions about the car before it will offer to provide you with an imported car insurance quote – so be prepared for this too.
But the key thing to understand is that the cost of imported car insurance depends on the category into which your vehicle falls.
Parallel imports are vehicles manufactured inside the EU.
Finding cover for a car imported from Europe tends to be simpler than finding cover for a grey import, as parallel import vehicles have to meet the same minimum standards as UK vehicles. As a result, insurers are usually more willing and open to covering for these cars – making it easier to find a policy for a parallel import at an affordable price.
Keeping the costs down
Given that imported car insurance can cost more than conventional cover, it’s important to find ways to keep a lid on costs. Here are a few tips to help you find cheap imported car insurance quotes:
- Tempting as it may be to opt for a sports car, you need to think carefully, as these models will always cost more to insure than their more sensible counterparts.
- The same applies when it comes to choosing a car with modifications, as insurers will usually charge more for cover if your vehicle has been modified in any way. The message is simple: choose a car that has not been modified, and you’ll pay less for your cover. A full body kit will make your premium 13% more expensive each year.
- Make sure your imported car is as secure as it possibly can be by parking it on a well-lit driveway overnight. Also look into adding safety features such as an alarm or an immobiliser, as an insurer will reward these additional safety measures with lower premiums.
- Consider paying a higher excess; this is the chunk you pay towards any claim. But make sure you don’t increase this so much that it then becomes unaffordable should you have to make a claim.
- One of the best ways to keep costs down is by driving carefully and sensibly and building up a clean record, as this will translate into a no-claims discount when you come to buy your cover in future.
Finding the best deal
When looking for cheap cover for your imported car, it’s worth researching the specialist insurers that offer policies that are specifically designed for vehicles from overseas. But don’t automatically assume these will be cheapest.
You also need to scour the whole market to find the right imported car insurance policy for you; this means seeking out the right level of cover at the right place.
The best way to do this is by logging onto a price comparison site such as MoneySuperMarket where you can compare prices and policies from a wide range of insurers – and choose the policy you want to purchase at the press of a button.