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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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If you are looking to insure an imported car, you can expect the price to be higher than it would be for a domestic car. Just how high depends on a variety of factors including how common the car actually is, who makes it, its retail price, the age of the vehicle, availability of parts and much more. Surprisingly, there are several foreign-based car manufacturers that assemble cars here in North America but are still considered import cars, like Toyota.
For a car insurance quote for your imported vehicle, plug your ZIP code into the FREE quote tool on this page!
A domestic vehicle that is fairly common, such as a mini-van would run you a little more than $1,000 on average for car insurance per year, if you have a good driving record. However, if you drive certain imported vehicles, you can easily end up paying three times that amount or even more. Meanwhile, other imports that are very common, like the Toyota line of vehicles, cost little more than a domestic car would to insure.
Correlation between Retail Price and Insurance Price
Realistically, as you look for an import car to buy, you will find that the price can be quite high. A good rule of thumb is the higher the retail price, the more it will cost to insure it. This is because the cost to replace such a vehicle is significantly higher than a car of average cost.
Parts for higher priced cars are also more costly.
Before you purchase an imported car, especially a high-end one, make sure to check around for the cost of car insurance for such vehicles. Expensive car insurance can drive the cost of ownership way up. An imported Audi that retails for $47,000 to $50,000 costs about $1,733 annually to insure, according to NewCar.com. The higher end Audi that runs $123,300 to $210,300 insures for $3,470 per year.
Imported Sports Car Insurance
If you are looking for coverage for an imported sports car, the price will be even higher than for a traditional vehicle. Because sports cars go faster than other vehicles and tend to attract a certain type of driver, insurers charge more to assume the risk. Some insurers may even be reluctant to offer coverage on imported sports cars, and as a result may quote prices that are practically astronomical.
NewCar.com gives the cost of insuring an imported 2012 Mercedes-Benz sports car, with an MSRP of $189,600 to $196,100, as starting at $4,343 per year. A domestic sports car, like the Chevrolet Camaro, which retails between $23,280 and $54,095, costs a mere $1,350 to insure.
While some of the discrepancy is based on the value of the vehicle, the combination of being imported and a sports car contribute significantly to the higher insurance rate.
Choice of Coverage Affects the Premium
If your imported car is new or of a high value, you will likely want to carry much more than the minimum amount of coverage that your state mandates you to carry. In fact, across the board, insurance professionals agree that the required liability limits are too low and drivers should carry no less than $100,000 per person for bodily injury liability, $300,000 per accident for bodily injury liability and $100,000 per accident for physical damage liability. Those with higher end vehicles may want to opt for even higher limits in order to protect their assets, as those hurt in accidents are more likely to sue someone they perceive as wealthy.
High value vehicles should also be protected with personal physical damage coverage, like collision and comprehensive. If the imported car is financed, the lender will, in fact, demand that you carry this type of coverage. If your car is paid for, the choice of physical damage coverage is yours. A good guideline for deciding on whether to carry it or not is whether it would be a financial hardship to have to replace it.
Uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage are also good forms of coverage to carry, even if your state does not mandate them. Sometimes other drivers act recklessly around high-end cars, especially imported sports cars. If another driver caused you or your passengers’ bodily injury due to such behavior and were uninsured or underinsured, this type of coverage would be very valuable. In addition, coverage like towing and labor may be very helpful if your vehicle breaks down, so your car is not left in a less than ideal location.
If your imported vehicle is older and the value is low, you may want to consider only carrying liability coverage and whatever other types of coverage are required by law in the state where you live.
By not putting personal physical damage coverage on your imported vehicle, you will save a significant amount on your yearly premium.
Shopping Around Brings Imported Car Insurance Savings
One of the most effective ways to see true savings when it comes to your imported car insurance is to shop around carefully for the best price possible. What this means is getting as many quotes as is reasonable and comparing them based on a variety of factors. Insurance companies may seem similar but there are some important differences between them, especially when it comes to the underwriting guidelines that set their rates. For this reason, it pays to look closely at quotes and the company behind them.
When you receive imported car insurance quotes, look beyond the price for comparison. First, make sure that the details of each policy you are being quoted on are truly comparable. Sometimes, lower limits or even a shorter duration of coverage can make a price look very enticing until you discover the reason for the “great deal.”
Check Out the Insurer
Once you are confident that the prices you like best are on the coverage you need, it is time to look at the company itself. Luckily, there is a variety of resources at your fingertips to help make that job very easy. You want to check out the company’s customer service reputation and its financial strength before committing to a policy.
To find out how an insurance company is doing according to those who use it, you have a couple of options. You can do an online search for reviews about the company. You can also contact an organization like the Better Business Bureau, which collects information from consumers about their experiences with businesses of all types.
Consumer Watchdog provides good information about insurance companies and other businesses also. They specialize in investigating consumer issues, misbehavior from companies and more. By searching for an insurer by name on this site, you can be sure to find out a lot about the company and how it does business.
J.D. Power and Associates is another excellent resource to help you choose the right insurer for your needs. They do consumer research and compile an annual report on satisfaction when it comes to auto insurance. Choosing an insurer that has a good rating according to J. D. Power is usually a sure bet.
The final aspect of checking out the insurer for your imported car is to find out how financially stable it is. Independent insurance ratings organizations, like Weiss Ratings or A.M. Best, can provide you with a grade for any insurer you are considering.
Ideally opt for insurers who have a grade of at least an A or better. This shows that they are financially strong and can be counted on to be able to meet their financial commitments and will likely be around for a while to come.
Saving on Imported Car Insurance
While the ways to save on imported car insurance are similar to domestic car insurance, it is important to be aware of them and to look at some other creative ways to save on coverage. Maintain a good driving record in order to save the most on your coverage. Limiting the number of miles and installing an anti-theft device on your imported vehicle each year will help to keep the cost down. Taking driver-training courses when possible will also often get you discounts.
A less common way to save on car insurance is by asking your insurer if it is possible to warehouse your vehicle during winter months and carry just physical property damage. If you have a second car you can use and actually do protect your imported vehicle by keeping it in storage during the winter, this can save you a tremendous amount on coverage.
Don’t forget to ask insurers about the type of discounts they offer on coverage. Some offer a discount for parking your vehicle in a garage every night. Others give discounts for select groups you belong to. Most give discounts for certain payment choices, putting multiple vehicles on one policy and carrying more than one type of insurance with the same company.
See a variety of different quotes for imported car insurance coverage today by clicking here to type your ZIP code in the FREE quote box now to begin!