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Imported Car Insurance

Importing a car from overseas may need specialist insurance.

Updated

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Now that you've managed to get your dream car JDM Nissan Skyline GTR R34 or classic Chevy Camaro into Australia, you've already done most of the hard work. All you need now is the right imported car insurance to ensure your rare import doesn't end up as a pile of scrap on the side of the road.

Luckily, you can obtain cover for your imported car from either standard insurers for an extra fee or from specialist insurers who know how to treat imported cars right. Find out the best option for you and your vehicle below.

Want to cover your imported car with a standard insurer?

Name Product Roadside Assistance Accidental Damage Storm Choice of Repairer Agreed or Market Value
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Awarded the 2019 Finder Award for the Best Value Car Insurance, this policy offers solid coverage at a low cost. Budget Direct’s claims service has received a 4.2/5 based on nearly 5,000 customer reviews.

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy without breaking the bank.
Bingle Comprehensive
Market
Finder's summary: Bingle consistently come up as one of the cheaper insurers out there. They only cover the basics, so you don't get to choose your own repairer, you're not covered for personal items in the car and you won't get a hire car if your car is stolen. But this keeps their premiums low.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a low cost option that covers them for the basics.
Youi Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Youi Comprehensive Car Insurance is one of the few providers to include roadside assistance in their policy. You'll also get access to YouiRewards which gives you discounts on furniture, parking and more. Youi also have a live chat feature on their site to talk through any questions.

Who it might be good for: People over 25 who want comprehensive cover with a focus on customer service.
Woolworths Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Woolworths catch our eye due to some unique perks like a price beat guarantee, where they'll beat any current comparable Comprehensive renewal notice if you're over 25. You'll also get 10% off your grocery shop once a month, and can add roadside assistance onto your policy for just $7.35 per month.

Who it might be good for: Woolworths shoppers and those that want to take advantage of their Price Beat.
Virgin Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Finalists for the 2019 Finder Awards for Best Value Car Insurance, Virgin Comprehensive provides a good level of cover for a decent price. You'll get 15% off on your first year’s premium when you buy online and get access to their hail hero service. Plus, get a $100 e-Gift card when you purchase a new policy by 30 November 2020 (T&Cs apply).

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy that's affordable.
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You'll be able to pick and choose how comprehensive you want your cover to be thanks to optional extras like roadside assistance, choice of your own repairer, and the option of agreed or market value. Plus, you'll earn Qantas Points when you join and get access to the Qantas Wellness App.

Who it might be good for: People who love collecting frequent flyer points.
Poncho Comprehensive
Agreed
Finder's summary: Poncho works like a monthly subscription - you pay monthly and can cancel and leave at anytime. You can also list multiple cars and drivers under one policy, making it ideal for families and groups living together under one household.

Who it might be good for: People who want their car insurance month-to-month.
Coles Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Coles have two-tiers of comprehensive car insurance to choose from. You'll earn double flybuys points at Coles supermarkets and you can get $10 off your Coles grocery bill every time you redeem 2,000 Flybuys points. If you're over 30, you can get roadside assistance free for a year.

Who it might be good for: Coles customers and Flybuys collectors.
Stella Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Stella’s a female-focused insurer. They'll cover you if your car is damaged as a result of domestic violence. They offer higher cover for baby gear than most, with up to $2,000 cover for prams, strollers and child seats. You get a free Bauer magazine subscription when you sign up and a portion of your premiums go to supporting female-led businesses.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a female-centred car insurance policy (they'll cover men too!).
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Compare up to 4 providers

Getting insurance for imported cars in Australia

If you've brought a car into Australia and are eager to insure it, there are two main ways to obtain cover, depending on the type of vehicle you've shipped in. Most commonly, imported vehicles will either be "grey" imports (from locations outside a manufacturer's supply chain) or prestige vehicles.

  • Standard car insurers. Some standard car insurers will agree to cover imported vehicles with a normal comprehensive car policy, assuming the vehicle meets their specifications. Certain standard insurers, like NRMA, will offer vintage and classic car insurance policies if you've imported a prestige vehicle.
  • Specialist car insurers. There are a range of insurers who cater specifically to people who have imported cars.They know if you've done all the paperwork and bureaucratic box ticking, never mind the expense of shipping - you're hardly going to go hooning around. They also tend to be more experienced with covering unusual or specialised vehicles.

Regardless of the provider you go with, the only thing you can be reasonably sure of is that your premiums will be higher than for a domestic market.

Who covers it?

InsurerCover provided
Shannons Logo Image: Supplied

Shannons

  • All imports
  • Classic and vintage vehicles
  • Modified cars
Enthusiast logo Image: Supplied

Enthusiast

  • All imports
  • Vintage and classic cars
  • Exotic, rare and prestige cars
  • Modified vehicles
Lumley logo Image: Supplied

Lumley

  • Imported classics
  • Vintage cars and motorcycles
  • Modern classics
Ryno logo Image: Supplied

Ryno

  • American imports
  • Classic and prestige cars and motorcycles
RACQ Logo Image: Supplied

RACQ (Queensland)

  • Grey imports
  • Vintage and classic cars
  • Modified and performance cars
RAA Logo Image: Supplied

RAA (SA)

  • Grey imports
  • Modified and high performance cars

Choosing the right provider: specialist or standard?

When looking for a provider to cover your car, it might be tempting to go for a well-known standard car insurer, perhaps one you've used in the past. But quite apart from the biggest problem you'll likely face - that standard insurers will straight up refuse to cover a wide range of imported cars - there are a number of benefits that going with a specialist insurer could provide:

IssueStandard insurerSpecialist insurer
Choice of repairer
  • Usually nominate which repairer you must use
  • Usually allow driver's choice of repairer
  • Know which workshops are best for specialised or imported cars
Salvage rights
  • Often lay claim to damaged parts and vehicles
  • Usually allow driver to retain damaged and potentially expensive/rare parts after a crash
Modification limits
  • Limits on the number of modifications they'll cover
  • Charge very high premiums for extensive modifications
  • Recognise many grey imports need extensive modifications to be legally driven
  • Likely to cover extensive or unusual modifications
Lay-up period
  • Usually very limited period of time, or not available
  • Vintage and classic car specialists may offer reduced price lay-up periods for cars that don't see much use
Insured value
  • Mostly offer market value
  • Agreed value cover costs more
  • Agreed value by default
  • Important for vintage cars with widely fluctuating and high market values
Cover for racing or high-speed use
  • Rarely offer this kind of cover
  • More likely to cover high risk recreational use like: rallies, time trials and motorsport events/li>
Lifetime repair guarantee
  • Commonly offered, but not usually for imported cars with rare or non-standard components.
  • Offered for imports even with difficult to find parts

Difficulties to be prepared for when getting cover for your imported car

As discussed above, getting cover for your imported car will likely end up being more expensive than for a regular domestic vehicle. But even after you've surveyed the market and settled on an insurer, there are a few particulars you should run past them to ensure that your vehicle is covered. If they're not, it's time to consider a specialist insurer.

  • Non-standard parts. Some cars have parts that are almost impossible to find in Australia, whether from age, market of origin, or rarity. Check that your car can be realistically repaired in the event of a crash.
  • Performance differences. High-end cars may be deemed too dangerous or likely to end up in an accident because of their sheer speed and horsepower. $200k+ Sports cars like Porsches and McLarens will likely attract an exorbitant premium from a standard insurer.
  • Roadworthiness modifications. Australia's road rules are different to other countries'. Getting insurance for grey imports can be hard because they often need a heap of modifications installed to be deemed roadworthy, and standard insurers balk at covering this.
  • Simply hard to insure. This could be because they have a soft-top roof (easier to break into), are particularly desirable for thieves, or are just outright expensive vehicles. Getting standard insurance will be difficult.

Picture: GettyImages

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