Many gray imports come with high performance engines, better mileage, and more exciting features than their American counterparts. Sometimes customers can import exotic vintage cars from Japan and Italy. Since imported cars can be packed with unique features, upgrades, and functionality, securing them can be trickier than you might think. Getting the right insurance coverage plan for your car is essential, whether it’s a US specification or a gray import.
An import auto insurance plan recognizes the value of a vintage or import car. It also offers additional coverage to protect the value of such a car. Compared to standard auto insurance policies, a gray import insurance premium would be on the higher end, due to the cost of the car, and associated repairs, parts, and maintenance. This guide will look at the different factors affecting auto insurance prices and the type of coverage available for cars delivered to the United States and gray imported cars.
The following is sponsored by Low offset, a site dedicated to helping you modify your car properly, whatever your budget.
Cars delivered to the United States vs gray imported cars
A vehicle delivered to the United States (or that meets American specifications) is a vehicle that has been designed for the United States market. While not manufactured on American soil, these vehicles are officially imported by brands that operate in the United States, in accordance with safety standards set by the federal government.
They are designed and built for the US automotive market and meet US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). Cars available in the United States are expected to meet specific standards for build quality, component quality, and other structural specifications.
On the other hand, gray import cars were not intended for the US market but were imported into the country. U.S. federal and state authorities say cars imported into the country from other markets (considered gray or parallel imports) should go through strict compliance procedures and inspections. Specific gray import models may even need to go through additional collision and emission control tests.
For example, let’s say that a Nissan vehicle originally intended for the Asia-Pacific auto market is imported into the United States. According to United States Customs and Border Protection, the car will need to meet several motor vehicle laws before you or the dealership can import the car into the country. Otherwise, the import process is illegal.
Gray import insurance
Most people assume that gray imports are more difficult to insure than cars deliverable in the United States. However, this is not always the case. Import car insurance providers take into account other factors such as performance, parts availability, overall durability, and all the safety-enhancing features of the car. It is certain that the design of the imported car may not meet US safety standards. Some insurers may have strict conditions that require buyers to modify the gray import to meet US standards.
The insurer can also study the performance and service history of the gray import before accepting the insurance proposal. Sometimes, major players in the auto insurance market may be skeptical about gray import insurance because their underwriters are unwilling to facilitate the transaction. Insurers can be more confident about gray imports that are imported through reputable dealers.
The cost of insuring an American-standard car is generally lower than gray or parallel imports, as the risk factors are higher with the latter. For example, he costs about $ 164 per month for insure a Nissan 370Z, an American model. The annual cost of insurance for the car is approximately $ 2,000.
The owner can benefit from reduced rates if the car is equipped with additional safety features such as anti-lock brakes, stability and traction controls or anti-theft warning systems. The cost of insuring a similar gray import model like the Nissan 300ZX (especially if the car comes with a turbo engine) could be up to 30% higher.
In addition, it would be better to consider the cost of modifying the car in specialized garages. Reputable insurers may offer discounted rates if the owner can prove that the risk associated with insuring an imported car is no greater than that of an American deliverable.
Factors Affecting Insurance Prices
There are many things that insurance companies study before providing auto insurance to their customers. Ultimately, it may be impossible for car owners to receive quotes for gray imports. This is because insurance rates vary depending on factors such as the condition of the car, compatibility with US market restrictions and whether the car is right-hand or left-hand drive. Even gray imports of the same model necessarily have different insurance rates.
Below are the seven factors most likely to impact your premium when it comes to securing a gray import.
# 1: cost
In a typical auto insurance scenario, higher end cars like the Maserati Quattroporte tend to have higher insurance premiums. The cost of insuring a $ 15,000 JDM car could range between $ 180 and $ 300 per month. The cost of the vehicle is one of the main factors that insurers consider when writing an insurance plan. Import cars also incur additional costs like shipping, for example.
The average shipping cost for gray imports is typically between $ 700 and $ 3,000. Higher car prices automatically lead to higher premiums. The import car insurance provider may have concerns regarding the coverage and indemnity aspects. You can also contact a collector’s car insurer to insure your gray import car. These insurers have specialized plans designed for collectibles and gray imports.
# 2: parts availability
The costs of repairing and replacing imported gray cars are expensive because they require expert skills and special parts. The vehicle may not be able to be taken to your local auto repair shop for repair. In a total loss scenario, compensating the car will cost much more than the car delivered to the United States. For these reasons, the cost of the vehicle plays a vital role in determining your insurance premium.
Insurers like Grundy can offer more stable tariffs for gray importation if they have a direct counterpart in the United States. For example, insurers may offer simple conditions and standard rates for a JDM Nissan Pulsar since the Nissan Sentra is almost its American counterpart. The insurer can often provide comparative rates and conditions.
# 3: age and height
Anyone who has done basic research on gray imports is familiar with the “25-year rule”. It is easier to import cars that are even older than 25 years into the US market. Gray import may even be allowed to pass through customs with minimal or no restrictions. While the age of the car can make the import process more manageable, it can negatively impact insurance eligibility. Insurers may not want to insure vehicles over 25 years old.
Sedans or mid-size SUVs are considered safer vehicles compared to small cars or sports cars. Insurers tend to view sports cars as a risky investment due to their vulnerability to accidents.
As mentioned above, the cost to insure a Nissan 370Z is on the higher end when compared to average auto insurance rates. The cost of insuring an imported Nissan Leaf hatchback could be as high as $ 3,568 per year. On the other hand, bigger and more luxurious cars also tend to have higher premiums.
# 4: right hand drive or left hand drive
Cars delivered to the United States are designed to be left-hand drive. However, gray right hand drive imports can easily be imported into the US market, and it is even legal to drive them. However, if the gray import is a right-hand drive car, you may need specific right-hand drive insurance. Be sure to speak to your insurer in advance.
# 5: safety features
You can get discounts on your insurance premium if your gray import has advanced safety and security features. For example, the Nissan 370Z we mentioned comes equipped with ABS, stability control, air bags and head restraints. These features are intended to protect the occupants of the car in the event of an accident, which the insurance provides will be greatly appreciated.
Even gray imported models like the Nissan Rasheen come with advanced security and anti-theft functions. Insurance premiums for gray imports can be even lower if they comply with safety standards and regulations set by the US government.
# 6: driving record
A clean driving record will allow you to get a better auto insurance plan from a provider. If you are older, you are assumed to be a safer driver. Younger and inexperienced drivers end up paying more for insurance than older drivers. Insurers will also take into account any accidents you have had in the past. Drivers with travel violations on their record, accidents and reckless driving violations are considered to be at higher risk than those with a clean record.
# 7: where you live
Insurers take into account the region in which you live. If you live in an urban area, be prepared to pay higher premiums as these areas have higher accident rates than rural areas. Urban areas are also a traffic nightmare. Since your vehicle is on the road a lot, it will experience wear and tear and require maintenance and repairs, which can increase the cost of protecting your car.
Where you live can also make your gray import a vulnerable target for thieves, especially if the vehicle appreciates over time. For these reasons, insurers may charge a higher premium for gray imports.
Insuring a gray import can be more expensive than insuring a vehicle originally intended for the US market. However, gray imports have attractive features and qualities that their American counterparts do not always have. Many reputable insurers focus on providing affordable insurance rates for gray imports into the United States