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Grey imports are becoming more and more popular with UK buyers due to the fact that Japanese cars are typically built to the top specs as standard and are generally sold after lower milage -- best of all, they're right-hand drive so are easy to use on British roads! If you own a Japanese import car, you'll need grey import insurance, read on for Quotiva's short guide ....
So ... what is a grey import?
If you're yet to decide whether you want to purchase a japanese car import, you'll probably want to know what kind of cars people like to import and why? You'll be used to seeing Japanese cars on the road by -- Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Diahatsu, Mazda, Suzuki, Mitsubishi -- they're popular with consumers and generally known for their reliability. So why would someone choose to import one, rather than buying a UK spec car?
Generally, not only are grey imports cheaper (even after import duty) than cars purchased from a UK dealership, but they're often manufactured with "better" specs -- be that a more powerful engine, or just air conditioning and a CD player as standard. Some features may not be available on a UK model either, such as an automatic gear box. Also, the Japanese tend to keep cars for less time than the British, meaning the vehicles tend to have lower mileages. Cars are tested every two to three years in Japan (the translated test name is "Shaken") to see if they reach Japanese road standards. After a while these tests can become expensive and repair garages also charge higher prices in Japan-- this is why many export their vehicles and purchase a newer one with the revenue earned.
That sounds too good, is there anything I should look out for?
Well there are a few downsides to owning a Japanese import car, but these are relatively minor inconveniences such as. The first be being that you need to ensure that your vehicle meets the standard expected of cars on British roads and passes the Enhanced Single Vehicle Approval (Enhanced SVA) test (essentially a very thorough MOT) before you drive it in the UK. Occasionally cars manufactured in Japan have thinner window glass than is standard in Britain and may have harder wheel rubber than typical UK tyres. If this is the case then you will have to change these features of you car before driving it around.
Japanese Import Car Insurance
So, what should you look for when purchasing grey import insurance for your japanese car? Many of the features of Japanese car insurance is similar to standard motor insurance -- you can find a glossary list of motor insurance jargon in our insurance guide should a broker confuse you, but here are some specific factors to look out for on your grey import policy.
One thing that you should remember about your grey import cover is that brokers usually increase the premiums on imported vehicles in comparison to standard UK models because they believe that sourcing parts may be expensive if they need to repair the vehicle after an accident. Whilst it is true that you may pay more to replace parts on imports (although this is not always the case), when speaking to a broker you need to provide them with evidence that an accident whilst you are driving the car will be very unlikely.
How to get cheaper cover...
There are many ways to illustrate to you broker that you are a safe driver and thus only a small risk on the road.
The first is through experience -- if you've owned your grey import for a number of years or have driven an imported car for a number of years in the past, let the broker your speaking to know. Of course, if you own another vehicle as well as your grey import this is also a factor that could get you a discounted price on your premium, by having two vehicles you're most likely reducing the amount of time your import is on the road, if this is coupled with a low mileage agreement you could see an even larger discount.
Like any standard car policy the number of years NCB you have built on a grey import policy will help greatly. However, many brokers will take into account the NCB you've earned on your standard motor insurance policy. Equally, any security you've had fitted to your car, such as an immobiliser or alarm will help to lower premium cost, as well as where you stored your vehicle (for example in a garage rather than on the street).
It is also worth mentioning if you are a member of a car club -- there are groups for all kinds of japanese cars and being a member can help provide a discount on your grey import insurance. If you drive an FTO, Impretza, Skyline, Supra or EVO your broker will want to know that you care and cherish for that car -- a club indicates that you're somebody that really spends a lot of time looking after their vehicle.
Finally, it's always worth letting a broker know if you have made any modifications to your car, whether they are internal (such as a new stereo system) or perhaps new alloy wheels. Always discuss your policy in detail with your broker to ensure you get the best grey import insurance deal available, as well as the right level of cover for your vehicle.