Classic car insurance Japanese imports

Classic car insurance Japanese imports

Classic car insurance for Japanese imports

 We’re huge fans of Japanese cars here at Lancaster Insurance Services. After all, over the past half-century or so, the Japanese car industry has brought us some truly iconic vehicles – from familiar but much-loved cars such as the Datsun 240Z, to rare and jaw-droppingly beautiful automobiles like the wonderful Toyota 2000GT.

Some of these machines, like the Toyota Celica, were familiar sights on our roads at one time. Others, such as the incredible Honda NSX, were rarer – and the subject of many envious looks whenever they roared past.

All, needless to say, will have required protection with some suitable car insurance, and any that are still on the road today will still need that insurance.

There’s something extremely alluring about a genuine Japanese classic car from yesteryear. Their looks, their engineering, and the noise they make are all refreshingly different from some of the cars being produced over here at the time, and many Japanese cars from the 1960s through to the 1990s are now revered classics.

Some of these cars, such as the Celica and 240Z, were widely available here in the UK. Many were acquired from UK showrooms in their day, and will have been ready to drive the moment the buyer signed on the dotted line (provided they had also arranged the correct insurance for the vehicle). What’s more, many of these cars are still on the road now, and continuing to enjoy the protection of some specialist insurance.

Others were so-called ‘grey imports’, meaning that they had been imported from Japan itself. Now, Japan’s status outside the EU means that these imported cars have been built to a different set of specifications when it comes to emissions, safety, and security. Often these cars will be harder, and more expensive, to insure.

Here at Lancaster Insurance Services, we’re proud to be able to arrange Japanese car insurance for a wide range of imports (also known as Japanese Domestic Market, or ‘JDM’ cars), as well as UK-built vehicles. Whether these cars rolled off the production line of a UK or Japanese factory, we’ll be pleased to provide domestic or import car insurance for them.

Yes, when it comes to providing insurance for Japanese classic cars, here at Lancaster Insurance Services our passion and proven expertise helps us to find our customers the very best insurance deals.

Why bring a Japanese import into the UK?

Mazda MX5 Red Car

As we have seen, many of these Japanese cars were built at UK factories. Others, though, were imported cars, built in Japan and shipped over. But why might drivers have gone to the trouble of buying, and arranging insurance for, a Japanese import, when there were so many brilliant cars being made on these shores?

Typically, for one of two reasons. Firstly, many of these ‘grey imports’ have tended to be cheaper (to purchase, although not necessarily to insure). The most famous example of this is the Mazda Eunos – the equivalent of our Mazda MX-5, built for the Japanese domestic market.

There are plenty of ‘grey import’ Eunoses for sale in the classifieds, and they will tend to be cheaper than equivalent MX-5s of the same age. Conversely, though, owners may find it more expensive to arrange import car insurance for a Eunos, than to insure an equivalent MX-5.

A second reason for considering a Japanese import is that the technical regulations in Japan are different to those in the UK and Europe. This means that a car like this will have slightly different performance, safety and security features than those cars produced over here.

As a result, these import cars must undergo modification and testing under the Individual Vehicle Approval scheme, or IVA. This verifies that an import car meets the right safety and environmental standards required of them, before they can use UK roads and qualify for UK car insurance.

You will also find that your provider of classic car insurance will need to know about these modifications and tests. Insurance providers will also want to see documentation that proves that any modifications have been performed to the correct standard: failing to provide the correct information could invalidate an insurance policy.

If you do choose to buy a ‘grey import’ car, by the way, we strongly recommend purchasing from a reputable dealer. We’d also advise you to only consider cars already modified for UK use and approved under the IVA scheme. Once again, failure to do so may well invalidate your insurance claim.

And how do you spot a reputable car dealer? That’s relatively straightforward: they will be a member of the British Independent Motor Trade Association (BIMTA), and will have signed up to that organisation’s code of conduct. Ensuring that the import car you buy comes from a BIMTA-affiliated dealer should make the process of acquiring insurance more straightforward.

Some famous classic Japanese imports

Nissan Skyline Blue Car

Over time, UK buyers have chosen to import and insure some fairly iconic Japanese vehicles. Famous imported Japanese cars include the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 7 GSR – a Japan-specific variant of the iconic hot hatch, featuring Recaro bucket seats in the back as well as in the front, plus a Momo sports steering wheel. Any version of this iconic Far Eastern speedster will need to be protected with some specialist Japanese import car insurance. Indeed, you’ll want insurance for any of the cars we’re mentioning here, whether they’re out on the road or back home in the garage.

Another much-cherished, high-performance JDM sports car is the Nissan Skyline GT-R – something of an automotive legend, with appearances in many films and video games. Anyone driving a Skyline in this country will find that the car’s rarity and awesome power attract quite a high insurance premium. But the cost of insurance shouldn’t deter fans from owning this iconic Japanese beast.

Another popular Japanese import is the fourth (FD) generation of the Mazda RX-7, to our eyes one of the best-looking cars ever to come out of the Land of the Rising Sun. Again, a combination of extreme scarcity and a powerful engine conspire to make this a relatively expensive car when it comes to insurance. We’d recommend that, as a classic car owner, you avoid unforeseen expenses by factoring insurance costs into any ownership project.

There’s also, though, a different class of Japanese import: cars from non-Japanese marques, which had special editions produced for the domestic market. These are now desirable for many UK buyers, thanks to their increased performance, rarity, or both. Of course, both performance and rarity are likely to have an impact on the insurance premium of any classic car.

This group includes such cars as the 1995 Mini Mark VI import. Minis were very popular in Japan during the early and mid 1990s, during a boom in demand for supercharged kei cars. (More on kei cars – whose small engines and dimensions make them cheap to run and insure – elsewhere on our insurance blog).

The last of the ‘old-shape’ Minis, the Mark VI has that retro character so much loved by classic car fans. Under the bonnet, you’ll find the 1,275cc engine that powered many Minis for over three decades. And yes, that combination of small engine and even smaller dimensions tends to make a Mini an easy and affordable car for which to arrange insurance. Although, once again, you may find a JDM Mini’s ‘grey import’ status means its insurance premium goes up a little.

Why do you need Japanese import car insurance?

There are a variety of reasons why insurance is essential for classic cars. For one thing, it’s a legal requirement, here in the UK, to have valid insurance for any car that you are taking out on public roads.

In fact, if you own a vehicle at all you are legally obliged to have motor insurance. This applies even if you don’t use the vehicle – unless you register it as off the road, or SORN. If you have a car that you’re not using, by the way, you may find our feature on SORN to be a useful read.

So, what types of insurance are available? Well, the legal minimum level of insurance you’ll require is so-called third party insurance. This type of insurance means that you're covered if you have an accident causing damage or injury to any other person, vehicle, animal or property. Third party insurance does not, however, cover any other costs – such as repairs to your own vehicle.

As such, and if your budget allows, you may be better off considering a more comprehensive level of insurance. There are two tiers of insurance that are more expensive, but which provide more cover, than third party insurance.

Firstly, third party, fire and theft insurance is the same as third party insurance – but with added protection against your vehicle being damaged, stolen or destroyed in a fire.

At the top end of the scale, comprehensive insurance is the highest level of insurance cover available. This type of insurance protects you against:

  • Any injuries suffered by other people, as well as any damage to their cars
  • Your vehicle being damaged, stolen or destroyed in a fire
  • Medical expenses for you
  • Accidental damage to your vehicle
  • Theft of, or damage to, the contents of your vehicle

You’ll have noticed that one thing that comprehensive insurance covers you for – and that other levels of insurance do not – is accidental damage. This particular feature of comprehensive insurance covers the cost of repairing any damage to your car that is caused by an accident. 

To speak to a member of our specialist classic car customer service team call 01480 484826 or we’ll call you back at a time that’s best for you.

Available benefits at a glance

  • Car Club member discounts
  • Static Show Cover
  • Historic Rally Cover
  • Choice of repairer
  • Salvage Retention
  • Free EU cover up to 90 days
  • Two Year Agreed Valuation
  • Laid Up Cover Available*
  • 24 Hour Claims Helpline
  • UK Based Call Centre
  • Limit Mileage Discounts

*(available for £18)

Why Choose Lancaster Classic Car Insurance Services?

  • Classic Car That’s Hard to Insure?
  • Classic Car MoT Exemptions
  • Classic Car Insurance Quote
  • Classic Car Insurance Discounts and Benefits:
    • Car Club member discounts
    • Static Show Cover
    • Historic Rally Cover
    • Choice of repairer
    • Salvage Retention
    • Free EU cover up to 90 days
    • Two Year Agreed Valuation available for £18
    • Laid Up Cover Available
    • 24 Hour Claims Helpline
    • UK Based Call Centre
    • Limit Mileage Discounts

Lancaster is the insurance broker of choice for classic car owners providing cover for over 88,000 classic cars (as of May 2019).

We arrange classic car insurance for over 40% of all MG Bs on the road and over 30% of all Land Rover 88s and MG Midgets – proving that classic car owners place their trust in us.

At Lancaster Classic Car Insurance, we aim to find the best price for your individual cover needs. We appreciate the importance of recognising the true value of your classic car and our team will be happy to talk to you through our benefits, such as agreed valuations and salvage retention.

We will offer you a tailored policy, bespoke to your requirements – this can include cover for:

Lancaster Insurance is committed to supporting the classic car clubs.

Owners club members may enjoy discounts of up to 25% off their insurance premium (the level of discount offered by each insurer differs and is subject to underwriting criteria).

Some of the classic car clubswe currently partner with include MG Owners ClubMX5 Owners ClubVW Golf MK1 Owners Club, VW T25 Club and many more.

If your club isn’t on our Classic Car Club page or wish to partner with Lancaster Insurance please call 01480 220065 or visit our Classic Car Club page for more details.

At Lancaster we understand that not every situation is the same, especially when it comes to Classic Cars.

That is why in addition to our Lancaster Classic Car insurance, we also can arrange the below:

  • Modified Classic Car Insurance
  • Multi-vehicle Insurance
  • Wedding Car Insurance
  • Limited Mileage Insurance
  • Laid Up Cover
  • Two Year Agreed Valuation

If you would like to know more details regarding the above offers, please call us on please call us on 01480 484826 or click here and we’ll call you back at a time that’s best for you.

Are you passionate about Classic Cars?

Here at Lancaster, we not only provide Classic Car Insurance but we’re constantly looking for ways to support the Classic Car community at events, sponsorship's, giveaways and sharing care tips for classic vehicles.

We’ve partnered with the team at Meguiar’s to showcase one of their awesome products each month.

This time we’re featuring the Meguiar’s Ultimate Snow Foam contains a specialized Xtreme Cling foaming action that delivers an intense foam that sticks and clings to painted surfaces gently loosening road grime, dirt and contaminants.

Fine-tuned to carefully and thoroughly clean coated, waxed or sealed finishes while preserving protection and leaving a brilliant, swirl-free shine.

We will listen to your requirements for cover, and discuss the best options with our panel of expert underwriters, to see if we can cover your cherished vehicle.

Call our specialist team on 01480 484826 or we’ll call you back at a time that’s best for you and let Lancaster Insurance help you.

In May 2018 the Department for Transport announced that cars that were built more than 40 years ago exempt from MOT testing, with the option for owners to voluntarily have their car tested if they feel it needs checking.

Insurance for imports and modified cars

Owning an imported classic may well give you some serious cachet in the classic car world. The so-called JDM market also gives you access to some wonderful cars, as we saw above. However, buying and running a Japanese import will mean that you are subject to import car insurance, which is likely to be more expensive than the equivalent insurance for a UK- or EU-built car.

Why should this be? Well, one reason for this is that the parts will tend to be harder to source, although for many of these cars you may well find excellent specialist support here in Britain. Joining an owners’ club will be the best way to access this kind of knowledge and support – just one of various benefits, alongside discounts on your insurance, that club membership will bring.

Not only this, a Japanese import car may well require modifications, as we explained above, to allow it to conform to UK roadworthiness regulations. This has an impact on insurance premiums, as these changes will class the car as a ‘modified vehicle’ – usually meaning higher insurance premiums.

Some popular car modifications can in fact reduce your insurance premiums: many, though, will make insurance more expensive.

The good news is that, here at Lancaster Insurance, we are able to provide insurance for classic cars featuring a wide range of modifications. You can find more info about this particular type of insurance on the Modified car insurance page of our website.

What should you look for in classic car insurance cover?

 Specialist classic car insurance typically brings a few extra benefits that are of particular interest to owners of classic cars. After all, as the owner of a classic vehicle – whether Japanese, British, European or other – you probably cherish your vehicle and want to care for it in the best way possible. And, here at Lancaster, our insurance policies feature several benefits that will help you to achieve this aim. You may want to bear these benefits in mind when shopping around for car insurance quotes.

For example, our insurance policies include cover for attending static shows and classic car rallies. That means that, while you show off your cherished classic car at a historic rally or show, we’ll provide cover for it in the event of any damage to the vehicle. Other benefits of our insurance policies include giving all customers a choice from our list of approved repairers, if and when they need repairs made on their classic car. This allows you to choose a repairer near you, and/or one that has been recommended.

Further benefits of our car insurance policies include an agreed valuation. This is a figure, agreed between the car owner and the insurance provider, which is placed on the value of your car. It is also, by extension, the amount that the insurance provider will pay the owner in the event that the car is either stolen or written off. There’s more information on this in our Agreed Valuation FAQ.

How can I make my car insurance cheaper?

Another great benefit of our car insurance policies is that we offer discounts on insurance premiums, to members of many UK classic car owners’ clubs.

Membership of a classic car owners’ club is something we often recommend, and not just for the discounts you can expect on your car insurance. Joining a car club gives you instant access to a large community of friendly, knowledgeable fellow owners. These enthusiasts drive and cherish the same classic car make as you, and may have answers to your technical questions, plus advice on insurance queries, parts sourcing and more.

Thriving UK owners’ clubs for Japanese classics include the Z Club (for all those iconic 1970s ‘Z’ Datsun / Nissan cars such as the 240Z), the Celica Club and the MX-5 Owners Club. You’ll find answers to a wealth of questions on the forums of these clubs – including, no doubt, the best places to look for Japanese import insurance.

Protect your Japanese classic today. Get a quote for Japanese import car insurance from Lancaster.