Why does car insurance for imports cost more and how can I keep the price down?
When compared to cars produced locally, it can often be more expensive to insure vehicles manufactured overseas. That’s because imported cars often use non-standard parts which need to be shipped from overseas at extra cost, manufacturers might lack service facilities in Australia and imported cars are often modified or otherwise non-standard, which can further raise the price.
You’ll need to bear some of these costs, but can also keep them down in a number of ways.
- Choose a specialist insurer. Insurers who specialise in rare, modified or imported cars will often have lower prices.
- Choose a specialist policy. Non-standard insurers will sometimes have special categories for imported vehicles, which can be more cost-effective than getting cover with a typical comprehensive policy.
- Take advantage of discounts, deals and other price reductions. There are a lot of ways to save money on car insurance, and you can leverage these with imported vehicles too.
The challenges of getting cover for imported vehicles
Getting cover for imported cars is, in many ways, more difficult than it should be, and not all of these issues will be addressed by the upcoming car import reforms. Difficulties may emerge because of the following issues:
- Non-standard parts: Insurers consider the cost of replacement parts for your vehicle. If they need to be brought in from overseas this can significantly increase the cost.
- Roadworthiness modifications: One of the main reasons to import cars is because it allows you access to vehicles that are not necessarily approved for sale in Australia. However, this means you’ll often need to modify them before they are legally roadworthy, which further inflates the price. Not only are the modifications added to the value of the car, but performance-affecting mods will often incur especially high insurance costs.
- Performance differences: People don’t often go to the trouble of importing low-end cars, so there’s a good chance that your premiums will be inflated right from the start because it’s simply a more powerful vehicle.
- Default classification: Insurers categorise vehicles to determine their insurance costs. With imported cars, different insurers might place them in different categories. When an insurer doesn’t have a suitable category for imported vehicle, it may default to a “high performance” or similarly expensive vehicle classification. As such, it can help to look for insurers with additional categories like “hard to place”.
Are there any specialist imported car insurance providers?
You can find the cheapest imported car insurance, including insurance for grey imports (vehicles legally imported and sold from another country outside the traditional manufacturers supply chain), by getting several quotes from standard insurers with cover for special vehicles, and then comparing these with the quotes provided by specialist insurers.
Depending on your vehicle, the insurer and the cover, you might find only a small price difference, or an enormous difference of 50% or more.
- Get comprehensive car insurance quotes from standard providers.
- Get imported, or special-category, car insurance quotes from specialist providers.
- Compare the two types of quotes, and rule out standard providers if there is a significant difference.
- If the prices are close, then standard insurers might be a preferable option, with many options available.
Standard insurers with specialist cover
Find a list of standard providers and get quotes here. Contact several insurers with your enquiry and write down the quote so you don’t forget. Once you have those prices, move on and get quotes from the specialists.
Specialist insurers are often focused on providing cover for people who are truly passionate about cars. Although the vehicles can be more powerful and driven at higher speeds, the drivers themselves are often highly experienced, safety-conscious and know how to look after their car.
This has the effect of lowering risk levels, and letting specialist insurers offer prices that standard providers cannot.
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How to compare specialist insurers
Specialist insurers will generally offer a variety of extra benefits which set them apart from standard providers, and each other. Consider the relevant cover factors below, as well as the price.
- Salvage rights: Having salvage rights means you can retain the wreck if the vehicle is totalled.
- Choice of repairer: You are typically able to choose your own repairer with specialist insurers.
- Modification limits: Some insurers may only cover a certain number of modifications, or will have strict limits on the amount that can be claimed for mods. Grey imports, however, may need a lot of modifications before they can even be legally driven. Look for an insurer that offers cover for an unlimited number of modifications, or offers this at a lower price.
- Lay-up period: More prevalent with classic and vintage car specialists, you may be able to find lay-up, or limited-use options to reduce costs if you aren’t driving the car for everyday use.
- Agreed value: Insuring a modified grey import under market value would typically be a mistake. Specialist insurers usually only offer agreed-value cover, while standard providers will often have both, but often charge extra for agreed value.
- Lifetime guarantee on repairs: This option can help drivers of imported cars get more peace of mind. Repair costs are one of the main areas where imported vehicles are a lot more expensive, so a lifetime guarantee on repairs is important to a lot of people.
- Cover for racing and high-speed use: Standard insurers will rarely cover you on a racetrack or when competing in any kind of car event. Specialists, on the other hand, are more likely to cover these types of risky, recreational pursuits.
Even with specialist insurers, you will still be subject to many of the same pricing effects and conditions as with standard providers. It can be very useful to have a general understanding of how these work.
- Under 25? Learn how to keep your car insurance costs down with any insurer.
- Modifying your import? If you’re bringing in a grey import you probably have to. Find out how car insurance generally works for vehicle modifications.
- Classic, vintage or veteran car? Find out how to get these valuable vehicles insured.
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