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Insuring an imported car

Need to insure a car which has been imported into the UK? A car that has been bought from another country and built according to non-UK standards is labelled an 'imported vehicle'. If one is planning to buy an imported motor, it is important to understand how the insurance cost of these cars is different from those manufactured and sold within the United Kingdom. Different types or models of imported cars have different insurance premium charges in the UK.

The insurance cost of an imported vehicle is determined by the automobile’s import category and is usually higher than that charged for an automobile that has been manufactured locally. The sourcing of spare parts of an imported car is difficult to get and as an imported car is made as per the specifications of the importer, the insurance cost is higher.

Import Motorcar Categories

Imported cars are different in their specification and there are two categories under which these are classified:

• Grey Category – Vehicles imported from a country that falls outside the European Union constitute this category. These cars are made according to the standards that are prevalent outside the European Union and the United Kingdom. Usually, these vehicles come from the United States and Japan.

• Parallel Import Category – These cars are imported from countries that fall within the European Union, and may also be available with local distributors.

Difference in Insurance Costs for imported vehicles

Most vehicle imports have a similar appearance and even the same model name as UK-made autos. However, the general specifications and engine of imported cars are different from those made in the UK. According to the European Whole Vehicle Type Approval, all automobiles that are sold in Europe must meet the stipulated standards established related to various features, such as emissions, brakes, crash protection, steering, etc.

Import motors need to undergo a test under the Single Vehicle Approval Scheme before obtaining the permit to be driven on UK roads. Grey category vehicles do not conform to the standards devised by the EU. There are few garages that can repair these cars as it is difficult for motorists and garages to procure parts or offer suitable service. In addition to this, the parts of imported autos are either not readily available or are available at a much higher cost.

Not only does this make the repairs of such cars costlier but also has an impact on the insurance cost of an imported vehicle, and an insurer is often reluctant to provide a cover on such vehicles. Usually, vehicles imported from Japan are high performance automobiles and, thus, the chances of them meeting with an accident are higher. Insurers who do provide insurance for this category mention offering grey import insurance.

On the other hand, a parallel import automobile is one that is tested as per the European specifications. These specifications are the same that is applied to cars manufactured in the United Kingdom. The differentiating factor between cars made in the UK and parallel import automobiles is that the latter has a different warranty and terms and conditions.

Both grey and parallel importing of vehicles affects the insurance cost, as they are not made particularly as per the UK standards. The primary reason behind this is these cars are often more costly to repair. If this motorcar is involved in an accident or crash, it would be very expensive for an insurance company to replace it. Even if the motorist has an excellent driving record and no claims on their insurance policies, an insurer would be wary of risking a big claim on an insurance cover for costly vehicle repair bills. However, when compared to grey import cars, it is easier to get insurance cover for parallel import vehicles, as these are from within Europe and meet the minimum standards.

How to Reduce Insurance Costs?

While getting insurance on imported automobiles may be a tiresome and costly task, there are ways through which one can reduce the cost to a certain extent. As one needs to give the specifications of their imported car, it’s usually not possible to get a ready-made quote off the Internet.

• It is advisable to compile modified quotes from several insurance companies as that would help get a better offer from an insurer or agent.

• If you have a garage where you can keep your car, you must mention that to the agent or the insurance company as that can help you save 5 % on the insurance cost.

• Avoid adding any young driver to the insurance policy as the age of the driver is indirectly proportionate to the insurance cost. The younger the driver, the higher the cost, as it is the youngest driver who is considered for the baseline cost of an insurance cover.

• It is best not to add any modifications to an import car, if avoidable.

• It is recommended to install a couple of security devices in your car, such as a steering wheel lock or a car alarm.

The primary reason why people prefer to buy imported cars is the cost advantage. However, this could go for a toss if one ends up paying a higher insurance amount. Therefore, it is important to assess the cost factor keeping in mind the price of an insurance cover for a particular imported car. It is always better to get an insurance quote and compare prices before buying an imported car, as that could actually help one make considerable savings.

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