If you’re planning to buy a car that’s been previously imported you need to consider the effect the car’s background will have on your insurance. Find out what a grey import is and learn how to save on car insurance for grey imports such as Japanese or American cars.
Imported cars are usually grouped into one of three categories: grey imports, parallel imports, and personal imports. Grey imports are usually models that don’t have an equivalent model with the same specifications available in the UK market. (A foreign car with an identical or similar UK model is known as a parallel import.)
Grey imports typically come from outside the EU, meaning they may not conform to the UK’s safety or emissions standards. They may also have a higher specification, with more powerful engines than those available in the UK — popular grey imports include Japanese and American cars.
As grey imports sometimes don’t conform to EU standards, they may need to be modified to become more suitable for UK roads. If you’re buying a grey import from a reputable dealer they should have already made any modifications to ensure the car is legal to drive in the UK. If you’re carrying out your own personal import, this is something you will have to bear in mind. Read our guide to personal imports for more information.
Grey imports are likely to be more expensive to insure than UK models or parallel imports.
Because they are often more powerful than standard UK models, insurers see grey imports as more of a risk on the roads. Grey imports can also be more expensive and time consuming to repair, as parts may be difficult to source. When calculating your premium, insurers will take into account how much it would cost to repair or replace your car, as well as the cost and duration of any courtesy car hire if your car is likely to be off the road for an extended period.
Insurers may also raise your premium if they feel there is an enhanced risk of theft — grey imports may be more desirable to thieves than standard models as they are rare and often more powerful than other cars on the market.
As with all cars, insurers will be able to give you a better deal if you can prove your car is safe — this is even more important with grey imports as insurers consider them a higher theft risk. If possible, keep your car in a locked garage or secure driveway overnight rather than parking it on the road.
You may also be able to reduce the cost of your insurance by installing a telematics device, also known as a black box. If your car has a particularly powerful engine insurers consider you at a higher risk of driving dangerously and being involved in an accident. Telematics boxes track your driving so you can prove that you act responsibly on the roads. A telematics box can also act as a tracker, which can deter thieves and make it easier to recover your car if it is stolen.
The easiest way to save money on car insurance for imported vehicles is to shop around and compare several different providers — some of the big-name insurers won’t be willing to cover grey imports, but there are several providers that specialise in grey imports and specifically Japanese or American car insurance.
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