Buying a car overseas and having it brought to the UK is a surprisingly popular option among British drivers.
If you’re considering buying a car from Europe or even from further afield, it’s important you understand the implications this can have, including how it could impact your car insurance.
What are the benefits of importing a car?
There are three main reasons why people choose to import cars:
- They can be cheaper to buy, with exchange rates and differences between markets providing the potential for lower list prices.
- There are some, often higher, specifications of a given model that may not be available here but are available elsewhere.
- It may allow you to get their hands on vintage or limited-edition models, which would otherwise be very hard or impossible to find in the domestic market.
Imported cars – the two types
Imported cars fall into two categories, known as grey imports and parallel imports.
What are grey imports?
Grey imports are built in non-EU countries, meaning they don’t necessarily have to conform to European build standards and regulations. This can be appealing because it often allows given models to have higher power and performance figures. When buying a grey import, it’s advisable to use a reputable dealer who’s a member of the British Motor Trade Association.
What are parallel imports?
Parallel imports are cars that are built and bought within the EU and brought over to the UK. This means they will conform to the same EU regulations and standards that apply to cars sold in the UK.
How will having an imported car affect my insurance?
Insurance for grey imports
With vehicles imported from outside the EU, you won’t be able to get car insurance until your vehicle has passed the Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) scheme. This will involve a visual inspection along with a series of other tests, designed to ensure that the car is of a good enough build standard to be safely driven on British roads.
You’ll find that insurance premiums for grey import vehicles are almost always higher than the model’s domestic counterparts. This is due to several factors:
- Repairs tend to be more expensive to conduct.
- Replacement parts tend to be harder and more costly to source.
- They tend to be more powerful and have higher performance figures.
- Many will be left-hand drive vehicles.
Insurance for parallel imports
A parallel import will have been built to meet European build standards and regulations, so won’t require any extra tests.
Repairing a parallel import can be much more straightforward and cheaper than repairing a grey import, which often means that insuring a parallel import can be cheaper. However, you should still expect to pay a bit more than you would if you had bought the car in the UK.
How can I lower my insurance costs?
Whichever type of import you go for, shopping around for a quote rather than accepting the first quote you receive could help lower your premium.
Insurers consider several factors when deciding how much to charge you. If you have built up a good no claims discount, have no points on your licence, park your car in a garage overnight and live in an area with a low crime rate, for example, these aspects are often looked on favourably.
When shopping around for your insurance, it’s worth bearing in mind that comprehensive cover gives you the most protection and can often work out cheaper than third party or third party fire and theft cover.