Read our guide to find out how a parallel import differs from a grey import, the effect it can have on your car insurance, and ways you can save — or compare quotes now.
Buying an imported car can work out cheaper than one intended for the UK market, and parallel imports are becoming a fairly common sight on UK roads.
When it comes to imported vehicles, parallel imports are the most similar to standard UK cars — a parallel import is usually a European version of a car that has a identical or very similar UK equivalent. An example would be imported Opel models, which are identical to their counterparts offered in the UK by Vauxhall (e.g. the Opel/Vauxhall Zafira or the Opel/Vauxhall Astra).
Although the car’s specifications may be almost identical to a UK model, some parallel imports can have differences, ranging from the subtle (variations in trim) to the obvious (being configured for left-hand drive).
It might not be immediately clear that a car is a parallel import, for example if the badges have been changed. If you’re looking to buy a car and suspect it’s been imported you can ask the seller, or if you own the car and still don’t know whether it’s been imported you can check the V5 document to see its origin.
Car insurance costs for parallel imports may be higher than standard UK models, especially in the case of left-hand drive vehicles or those with other non-standard features. However, parallel imports do tend to be cheaper to insure than grey imports, and the price difference may only be minimal compared to standard UK models.
As parallel imports are manufactured to the same minimum standards as UK models, insurers see them as less of a risk on the road as high-spec grey imports. However, some insurers are wary of imported vehicles and may raise premium prices or refuse to provide cover altogether.
If you’re buying a parallel import in order to save some money, you probably want to ensure you don’t spend too much on your car insurance. Insurance hikes may only be minimal for parallel imports, but there are ways to save further.
Much of your car insurance premium will be based on risk; not only the risk of an accident, but also risk of theft or vandalism. Insurers will see parallel imports as less of a theft risk (as they are typically more common and affordable models), but to keep costs down it’s best to show insurers your car is safe by keeping it in a secure garage or driveway if possible. You might also benefit from installing security features, such as an alarm or tracker.
You can save more money on imported car insurance by considering a niche provider — larger insurance companies may be unable to give you a competitive quote. Compare specialist providers for your imported vehicle using the tool below.