Insurance is normally more expensive for imported cars because insurers see them as 'higher-risk'.
This is because they usually cost more to repair, and are often higher-spec, and with more powerful engines, than standard cars. They've also sometimes been modified to fit with UK regulations.
All of this leads to a lot of extra hassle (and risk) for insurers. So they either put their prices right up, or refuse to insure imported cars at all.
You can get specialist imported car insurance, though. More on that below 👇
There are two main types of imported cars:
Grey imports normally come from outside the EU. They tend to be cars that don't have a UK version.
For example, the American car brand Cadillac doesn't make cars for the UK market. So if you wanted one, you'd need to get an imported one.
This would be a grey import.
Grey imports are normally quite a bit pricier to insure than UK cars. And they probably need specialist insurance too. This is because:
People who drive powerful cars are statistically more likely to drive more dangerously and make claims. So insurers put their prices up.
And sometimes they might need specialist mechanics who are used to fixing imported cars.
Grey imports won't fit into a UK insurance group, which makes it harder for insurance companies to figure out a price. (You can check your car's insurance group for free.)
Grey imports might have had modifications to make sure they meet the UK's regulations around safety and emissions.
This means it's harder for insurers to figure out how risky they are.
Parallel imports tend to be cars that come from inside the EU, and which do have a UK version.
For example, Volkswagen is a German car brand, but it makes models for the UK market.
Some people choose imported EU cars because they get a better deal than buying the UK version.
This is a parallel import.
When an imported car comes from the EU, it already meets the same safety regulations as UK cars (because these are the same across the EU). This means they're normally less expensive to insure than grey imports.
Under the terms of the Brexit agreement,there won't be a tariff on imports or exports between the UK and the EU.
(The agreement only applies to products that were made in the UK or EU.)
This means that the parallel import system will stay the same.
You can find out more about how Brexit affects car insurance including how to get a Green Card in our guide. 🤓
Standard car insurance companies are more likely to cover parallel imports than grey imports. But depending on the car and situation, you might still need to find a specialist insurer.
Either way, it'll probably cost you at least a bit more than normal car insurance.
Like grey import cars, there's a chance your parallel imported car is a left-hand-drive. Insurers will take this into account when they're deciding the price of your cover.
This is one reason the cover will probably be pricier than for a non-imported car.
Every car in the UK has a Vehicle Identification Number - or VIN.
A car's VIN is branded into the chassis. It's so each car has a completely unique number, even if the registration number changes.
Insurers use the VIN to look up the car when you get a quote. It's how they get all the information about the car that helps them come up with a price.
If the car's from the EU, you'll also need your "European Certificate of Conformity" to show that it meets all the standards the EU members agreed on.
If your car's not from the EU, you need an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA). Sorting out all those documents is hours of fun.
Buying a second-hand imported car is more or less the same as buying a new imported car when it comes to insurance.
In other words - insurers will still see it as a higher-risk car.
So before you buy a second-hand car, it's best to check the VRM and find out if it's an import. Luckily for you, our car checker lets you do just that - for free.
Imported cars are usually more expensive to insure. They tend to come with a higher compulsory excess, too.
If you're looking to get an imported car, there are some things you can do to help keep your insurance costs down:
Some insurers have their own app that monitors your driving - if you feel comfortable using this, it could help let your insurer know you're not a high-risk driver and lower the price of your policy.
For grey imports in particular, you'll probably need to find a specialist insurer.
A specialist insurer will be able to:
This is important because most standard insurers won't insure a car that doesn't have a registration number yet.
Offer cover for cars with modifications, or cars that are higher-spec/more powerful than standard cars. (Basically, the things typical of grey imports).
Offer cover cover for left-hand-drive cars.
Specialist imported car insurance companies will offer this kind of cover at competitive prices.
Like with all car insurance, how much it costs will depend on things like the car itself, and the driver's:
One thing worth bearing in mind is that not all temporary car insurance companies offer cover for imported cars.
This might make things tricky if you're buying a second-hand imported car and want short-term cover to move it to your home.
If you are planning to buy temporary car insurance to get your new car home, check you're eligible first.