There is no doubting the enthusiasm for imported cars, with a constant stream of high-performance vehicles making their way over from countries such as Japan. In many cases their popularity is due to them having higher specifications than those sold in the UK or heavily modified parts.
As a result there is no shortage of information available to help those wanting to source such vehicles. Not only are there plenty of owners that have been through the process, there are also numerous specialist companies that can guide and advise.
In fact, it’s now at the point where the actual importing of the vehicle is far simpler than sorting out the cover for it. All insurers deal in risk analysis, you see, and imported vehicles can potentially be a lot more challenging for them to make a judgement on.
The insurer’s dilemma
The principle problem with these vehicles in the eyes of insurance companies is how they can accurately estimate the costs of sourcing parts and carrying out repairs should you have an accident and need to make a claim. Depending on the make it can be very difficult – and expensive – tracking down the various items needed. Again, depending on which marque is being talked about, there may also be issues surrounding the quality of the vehicle itself. Those made in some countries of the world, for example, may not adhere to the same standards as we have become used to across Europe and parts may have to be imported.
As a result an insurance company may hit you with a higher premium – purely because they don’t necessarily know a great deal about the vehicle in question, what they are potentially taking on, and how they can accurately carry out a risk assessment.
The imported car market
The insurer is likely to be either reassured – or alarmed – depending on whether the vehicle in question is a grey import or a parallel import. While the latter are likely to be easier to insure, the former can potentially cause a few more headaches for owners. Let’s look at both. Basically, grey imports can be defined as vehicles that haven’t been and are not EU-approved, which means they may prove difficult for insurers. Extremely detailed information will be required during the application process in order for a quote to be issued.
Parallel imports, meanwhile, are a lot easier to handle. Effectively these are right-hand drive vehicles that have been imported from other European nations. Therefore, they will comply with all the European standards in place and should be as easy to insure as a UK version.
Searching for the best deal
If there are owners’ clubs for the type of vehicle you are buying – or you know of anyone that has imported one before – then it’s certainly worth getting in contact with them for their advice on which insurers should be contacted and which given a wide berth. In many cases a specialist insurer that deals in high-performance vehicles may be best placed to give you advice but you’ll need to do your homework and see what’s available. Premiums are likely to vary so shop around and make sure you understand the nature of the cover.
Cutting the cost
As always, there are ways in which you can reduce the premiums. Consider installing security devices such as tracking systems, immobilisers and wheel locks – but check with your insurer to see if there are certain manufacturers of these products that they approve. Agreeing to pay a higher excess can also trim the cost down to size if you’re a safe driver because you will only be penalised in the case of an accident.
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