Cars From Abroad Fall Into Grey and Parallel Imported Vehicle Insurance Type

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There are a number of reasons why you would want to import a car. Firstly you will be saving a substantial amount of money by importing. For example, if you import a car from Japan to the UK, then you would be paying a fraction of the price even after the import costs. Secondly, you might have relocated and want to drive in a foreign country. Thirdly you are more likely to get a wider choice of car models than what is available in your home country. There are other reasons as well but what you need to know is how imported car insurance varies according to the vehicle's country of manufacture.

Car import falls into two categories: Grey and Parallel imports. Let's find out what they are before finding how insurance for imported cars differs for each of the above categories.

What is grey import?

If you import a car which doesn't abide by the European specifications, then it will be classified as a grey import. The most popular place to import cars which falls under this category is Japan. Since the car's specifications are different from those in the UK, it is much harder to repair those vehicles although there are garages which specialise in them nowadays. You need to be aware that grey imported vehicles depreciate more than UK models and selling them privately could be a nightmare afterwards.

What is parallel import?

Car models which follow the European specifications for crash protection, emissions, lighting, brakes, steering etc are considered parallel imports since their minimum standards are all identical. The only thing you should be wary when importing this type of vehicle is the warranty that is being offered with it as it can change from country to country.

How does grey/parallel imports affect car insurance?

With both grey and parallel imports, you will be driving a car which is not the standard UK model as it has been obtained from another country. Therefore it is of a higher risk to the car insurance companies because if your car becomes a write-off, they will have to find a similar one to replace it. Unsurprisingly, your premiums will be much higher than if you had bought a similar car manufactured in the UK.

Imported car insurance for parallel imports is cheaper than that for grey imports for obvious reasons. Your vehicle specification matches more closely the UK standards compared to the other one. Therefore if anything happens to your car, it will be much easier to replace it (or any parts) and insurers will reward you by quoting you less for the premiums.

Where can I find cheap import car insurance?

If you want to save the most on your premiums, then avoid making modifications to the vehicle you are bringing into the country and make sure they have security devices installed.

Regular, traditional or normal car insurance companies will usually quote you higher because your imported car doesn't fall within their models' specification. However there are now many insurers which specialise in imported cars and they will give you the best deals than mainstream insurers. For Japanese import cars like Subaru, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, Mazda and Honda, you can try Keith Michaels Insurance Plc.

gices Level 6
I'm a Software Developer and the co-founder of Clever Dodo. Born in Mauritius and now living in the UK, I usually blog about fitness, music, spirituality and driving topics to pass on my knowledge.

2 Replies

Bowen Level 1

Insurance premiums for imported cars with british specifications

If an imported vehicle is of a british specification, is the insurance premium affected?

[Migrated from previous topic 10829 dated 25 Jan 2010]

gices Level 6


A car manufactured according to british specification is easier to insure. You will be able to get more quotes and more choices than one which is not approved by EU standards. You will therefore pay a bit cheaper for a parallel import compared to a grey import (cars are not approved by the European Legal System, that is, manufactured outside the EU).

However car insurance for imports will always attract a higher premium compared to one which has been bought in the UK.

[Migrated from previous post 756 dated 02 Feb 2010]

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