Can I insure a right-hand drive vehicle?

At the present time, there is no difficulty insuring a right-hand drive vehicle for the public liability and property damage (PLPD) mandatory coverage. Where there is an issue, is getting the physical damage coverage. Why are right-hand drive vehicles harder to insure?

Quebec is considering a ban of further imports into the province due to safety fears.

The Japanese vehicles include the Nissan Figaro and Skyline. The Mitsubishi Delica van is very popular as a diesel version of these vehicles, with the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the vehicle instead of the left.

Transport Canada reports that 73,000 second hand right-hand drive vehicles were imported between 2000 and 2006. ICBC tracked the number of collisions involving right-hand drive vehicles. This study found that there is a 40% higher accident rate, compared to usual left-hand drive vehicles.

Also, the study found that collision appears to be of higher risk, due to the reduced direct field of view, for the drivers of right-hand drive vehicles. This is particularly hazardous when making a left turn, pulling away from the curb or when changing lanes. New owners of left-hand drive vehicles, will have an accident 705 days after purchase. The study revealed that it is 223 days after purchase that the right-hand drive is involved in a claim. This is an increase of 68%.

These factors cause the insurance companies to limit the coverage they will provide for physical damage. It is not uncommon to see higher deductibles. Also, the owner of the vehicle may have to provide a name for a supplier of replacement parts, in case of an accident.

We polled some of the companies writing insurance in Alberta, and got different insurance answers from the companies. Some will consider right-hand drive vehicles like any other risk, based on merits of the individual risk. Another company stated that there is no standard answer. Each case is underwritten individually and may grant Section C (physical damage coverage), but there is no guarantee of acceptability.

One company answered that they will decline Section C, as there is a lack of parts available for ready repairs. If the insured can provide a manufacturer that can supply parts for the vehicle, then Section C may be offered, but with higher deductibles such as $2500 or $5000. Also the rate groups assigned would be high - Collision rate group 28 and Comprehensive rate group 35. All would be subject to underwriting approval.

Another company responded with yes to liability, but no physical damage coverage to be offered. Still another company said yes, will write the physical damage, but add a 50% surcharge.

One well-known insurer said they would consider writing the right-hand drive vehicle but required that the following be completed:

  • Gross vehicle weight does not exceed 4500 kg. (10,000 lbs)
  • No attached machinery
  • Not used for commercial purposes
  • Broker to obtain copy of the vehicle registration in order to validate the VIN
  • A copy of the bill of sale or appraisal order to confirm the value of the vehicle.
  • The endorsement SEF 19 is added to the policy.

Do your homework about the insurance available, if you are considering a right-hand vehicle. The reduced purchase price and the low fuel costs may not be such a savings after all, if your insurance costs are significantly increased.