Motorcycle insurance for imported motorbikes covers any bikes that weren’t produced for registration and sale in the UK.
That can include European models of motorbikes, and 'grey imports', which are bikes manufactured outside of Europe.
European models are relatively straightforward to insure, but grey imports can be harder to find cover for.
Although imported bikes are sometimes near-identical to their UK counterparts, they can be more expensive to insure.
It’s because fewer insurers are willing to provide cover, so you’ll have fewer policies to choose between and that pushes up prices.
We found that the average price for comprehensive motorbike insurance is £256, but for imported motorbikes that are not official UK models it's £167.
The best way to find a competitively priced policy that’s right for you is to compare quotes.
There are different types of imported motorbike and some are easier to insure than others.
The three main types of imported motorbikes are parallel imports, grey imports and Q-plated - you’ll have to state which yours is when you get quotes.
Parallel imported bikes are uncomplicated to insure.
They’re bikes that have been brought to the UK from other European countries, so they already meet minimum UK safety standards.
They usually have an identical equivalent available in the UK market and there’ll only be minor specification differences, such as the odometer using kph instead of mph.
Although in theory they pose the same risk to insurers as their UK equivalent, some insurers won’t cover imported bikes at all, so you’ll have less choice of quotes.
This means they can be slightly more expensive to insure than their UK counterparts.
Grey imports don’t have identical UK models and they’re imported from outside the EU.
They need to be modified so that they comply with UK legislation, for example changing the indicator lens colour.
Insuring a grey import bike is more expensive than insuring a parallel import or a UK bike because insurers see them as a greater risk - as with modified motorbikes, if they’re damaged in an accident repair costs can be high as its harder to source spare parts.
Paints, lubrications and oils might have been specified for milder climates too, making these bikes less durable in UK conditions.
If you can’t find a competitive quote for your grey import motorbike, a specialist insurer or broker might be able to help.
Q plates are issued by the DVLA for imported bikes whose age or identity is in doubt.
A Q-plate imported motorbike meets all European road and safety standards but has gaps in its document history so its age can't be determined, probably because it’s an older classic motorcycle.
The 'Q' denotes uncertainty about the vehicle, and as insurance is all about calculating risk, this makes it harder to classify, pushing up the price and availability of quotes.
Because of this, specialist insurers might be able to help you find quotes.
Buying an imported motorbike is more straightforward than buying an imported car - steering wheels on the wrong side and radios that can't get a UK signal aren't a consideration. Nevertheless, there are a few things you should pay attention to…
You might need to pay VAT and shipping costs, which can be considerable. You'll also need to pay vehicle tax from the date the bike is first registered in the UK. Insurance costs are higher, especially for grey imports, and servicing and maintenance could be pricey too
Beware of paying for a bike that hasn't yet landed in the UK. If you can't view it, the finish, specification and condition might not be what you're expecting. Try to use a reputable exporter or dealer
UK dealers should honour manufacturer warranty periods on parallel imports from within Europe. Each country has its own warranty periods so the period of cover might be shorter than what you'd get with a non-imported bike
If a bike was never designed to be sold in the UK, consider why. Will it cope with the UK's climate, terrain and roads?