Imported car insurance
There is a growing demand for imported cars, largely because they often offer higher specifications and better performance than their UK equivalents, and are sometimes less expensive.
As more people choose to import vehicles, there is an increasing amount of information available about how to go about it – and plenty of specialist companies willing to guide you through the process. But while importing a vehicle may be easier now than ever before, getting insurance can be a different story...
Why insurers treat imported vehicles differently to normal UK cars
Insurance providers set premiums based on a whole host of risk factors, and the problem with imported vehicles is that they present insurers with a bigger challenge when it comes to assessing these risks. They may be unsure about the quality of the vehicle because of varying quality standards in different countries. They may also struggle to estimate exactly how much specialist replacement parts or repairs would cost in the event of a claim, as some components may need to be imported – at added expense. A lot depends on which 'type' of imported vehicle you purchase: whether it is classed as a 'grey import' or a 'parallel import'.
'Grey imports' versus 'parallel imports'
Grey imports are generally more difficult to insure because they are not EU-approved, and therefore raise a lot of questions for insurers who will need to ask you for detailed information about the vehicle when you ask for a quote. They have no idea, for example, what safety and security testing has been carried out on the vehicle.
Parallel imports, on the other hand, are far more straightforward. These are right-hand drive vehicles imported from other European countries, so insurers know straight away that they comply with all the usual European standards. They should be easier and cheaper to insure than grey imports, if not as easy as a UK version of the vehicle.
Finding the best imported car insurance
If you know other people who own an imported car, or belong to an owners' club, it's worth asking for their insurance recommendations. Specialist insurance providers that offer cover for high-performance vehicles will generally have a better understanding of the kind of protection you need, but always compare a range of quotes and check they offer the cover you need before making a decision. The chances are premiums and levels of cover will vary dramatically from one provider to the next.
Ways of reducing your premium
As with any insurance, there are ways to help reduce your premium. You can fit approved security devices such as immobilisers, alarms, tracking systems and wheel locks to deter and prevent thieves. By increasing your excess you can also help bring down the cost, but make sure it's at a level you can afford if you do need to make a claim. And consider taking an advanced driving course, as this may also help to reduce your premium because you pose less risk to the insurance company.