How Car Insurance For Imported Vehicles Works

If you’ve spent a significant amount of time and money purchasing a car from overseas and importing it into Australia – either by yourself or through a Registered Automotive Workshop – you may decide it’s important to get it insured quickly.

You may want to sit back and admire your shiny new imported car, but whether you’re fancying your Ferrari or bowled over by your BMW, you may well decide to get your car insured ASAP for your own peace of mind.

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The good news is that many Australian insurance companies won’t have too much of a problem insuring your imported car – there are even insurers who specialise in classic and imported cars. However, the flip side is that you may pay more than the average motorist for your insurance.

Who offers insurance for imported cars?

The Insurance Council of Australia’s Find An Insurer service advises that the following insurers offer insurance for imported vehicles at the time of publishing:

  • NRMA (NSW, QLD, ACT, TAS)
  • RAA Insurance (SA)
  • Ryno Insurance
  • SGIC (SA)
  • SGIO (WA)
  • Shannons

How much does it cost to insure an imported car?

While your premium may vary based on the level of cover you’re after and the specific vehicle you’re looking to insure, it’s likely that you’ll pay more to insure an imported vehicle than you would a domestic one. There are a few possible reasons why this might be the case, explained below. It’s also worth considering the other potential costs and considerations for importing a vehicle into Australia, like the fact that you would need to obtain a vehicle import approval.

Modifications

A car manufactured in an overseas market will likely have been made to different safety and road standards than a car made for the Australian market. Subsequently, the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development, and Cities notes that imported vehicles will generally need to undergo a range of modifications in order to make them legal to drive on Australian roads.

This in turn may drive up the cost of your insurance premiums. While most modifications usually aren’t a deal-breaker (as long as you tell the insurer about them), your insurer may charge more to insure the vehicle depending on what’s been modified.

The need for speed

If your imported vehicle could reasonably be referred to as a ‘sports car’, you may end up paying more to insure it. Cars made for speed, like Ferraris and Lamborghinis, often also referred to by insurers as ‘prestige cars’, are viewed as relatively risky to insure due to their perceived higher chances of being involved in a crash. This in turn means that insurers generally take one of three routes when it comes to prestige cars:

  1. They may refuse to insure them at all.
  2. They may insure them, but charge you a considerable amount more to do so.
  3. They may specialise in insuring vintage and prestige vehicles, and a more expensive premium will generally be their default offering as a result.

So if your imported car is of the faster variety, you’ll most likely have to pay a higher-than-usual premium in order to get it insured.

Potentially expensive repairs

Australia has a bit of a love affair with Japanese cars. Toyota and Mazda models regularly feature in the monthly top 10 best-selling cars list, and one of the possible reasons for this is that they are often associated with being relatively inexpensive to repair when they break down.

The same can’t always be said for imported cars, and even among the pricier vehicles, some prove dearer than others to repair.

Some of the factors that can affect how much a car costs to repair over the long term are:

  • The brand’s routine maintenance schedule (some experts suggest you take your car to the shop more frequently than others)
  • Cost of parts (which will generally be higher for luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes than for cheaper brands like Toyota and Mazda) and repairer charges
  • Exclusivity (e.g. how easy it is to acquire parts – and how simple it is to find a repairer for your car)

The fact that prestige cars are expensive to repair is, once again, likely to result in higher insurance premiums. Insurers partially base their premiums on how likely a car is to be involved in an incident, and how much it’ll likely cost to repair after the fact. Speedy imported cars tend to be:

  1. Seen as more likely to be involved in a crash
  2. More expensive to repair if they’ve been significantly damaged

So, insuring an imported car most likely won’t be cheap. Your premiums and excess may be higher, and you may end up with greater out of pocket costs in the event of an accident. However, if you’ve invested in purchasing and importing a car, this might be a cost you’re willing to take on.

If you’re looking for a potentially more affordable option, you may want to consider buying a vehicle made for the Australian domestic market, which will most likely be cheaper to purchase, operate, and insure.

You can compare car insurance policies for standard, non-imported vehicles and search for the right policy for you with Canstar.

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