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Import Auto Insurance for Your Foreign Car

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 02/21/2011

What foreign cars need import auto insurance, why the premium is so high and how you can bring that premium down.

A red Italian car

A foreign car like this needs special insurance in the U.S.

When we watch movies that are set in other countries, depending on the type of movie, the cars look sleek and sporty or they look funny and interesting to drive.

But, trying to get import car insurance for a foreign vehicle that you have managed to buy and get to the United States can be anything but fun.  Insurance companies have special markets for import cars and some companies won’t insure them at all.  Don’t give up on your dream of owning an import – there are ways to get them insured.

What Foreign Cars Need Import Auto Insurance

Import auto insurance may be needed on any car that you have brought into the United States from a different country.  This does not include what people normally think as import cars, that you can buy on a U.S. car lot from Toyota, Hyundai or Honda.  While these are import names, they do not meet the specifications of being an import car.  In fact, some of these import names have plants here in the United States where they make the vehicles that we drive here.

Import autos are the ones that you have brought over or are from another country and do not have to meet the same specifications as vehicles in the United States do before they are sold.  These specifications are along the lines of safety equipment that is required by law in the United States, emissions and that the speedometer shows speed in MPH in addition to kilometers.  The largest difference in import cars from most countries is that the steering wheel is located on the left hand side of the vehicle instead of the right side that is standard in the United States.

Why is Import Auto Insurance so High?

Import auto insurance is expensive because of the vehicle itself.  Import vehicles generally do not have parts available here in the United States making it expensive for an insurance company to repair if it was ever in an accident.   Also, because the import does not fall into the same category as all other domestic vehicles, it requires a specialized policy where the policy is centered on the individual value of the vehicle, similar to a collector car policy.

The rate for an import car also depends on the type of import that you choose to purchase.  For example, an imported sports car is going to be much more expensive than a small import that you purchased for the excellent gas mileage.

Keeping Import Auto Insurance Premium Reasonable

  • Get quotes on the insurance before you buy your import.
  • Make sure that the import is modified to legally drive on the road in the U.S.
  • Install car alarms and lock your car in a secure area when not in use.
  • See if the insurance company will insure the vehicle as a collector car if you don’t drive it all the time.
  • Ask your current insurance company if they offer import insurance so you can keep your longevity discounts.
  • Shop around to different companies to see if they even offer import insurance and to get the rates of the ones that do.

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Todd Clay

Todd Clay is a former insurance agent with the largest insurance company in the United States. He earned his Bachelor’s from the University of Texas. He’s worked in several fields but has specialized in insurance, financial-related information, and technology. He blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook.

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    […] Import autos are the ones that you have brought over or are from another country and do not have to meet the same specifications as vehicles in the United States do before they are sold.  These specifications are along the lines of safety equipment that is required by law in the United States, emissions and that the speedometer shows speed in MPH in addition to kilometers.  The largest difference in import cars from most countries is that the steering wheel is located on the left hand side of the vehicle instead of the right side that is standard in the United States.Source: carinsuranceguidebook.com […]

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