Lets face it, we love Shimane but one of the realities of living here is that it’s not as easy to get around as other areas in Japan; for many of us, a car is a necessity. Before you purchase or lease a car, please make sure you are intimate with the details of your insurance and speak to your Contracting Organization about what insurance you need to have. In many cases, COs require that you have certain liabilities covered for travelling to and from work.
The first thing to understand is there are two types of car insurance in Japan:
Compulsory insurance (Jibaiseki Hoken) and optional insurance (Nini Hoken)
Jibaiseki Hoken is included as part of the shaken (A bi-annual check of the road-worthiness of your car/warrant of fitness) that you or your rental company has to pay to keep the car legally registered and is the lowest form of insurance, similar to a very basic third-party insurance in many Western countries. Basically if you have an accident and are deemed responsible it will only barely cover the medical bills meaning that you might have to pay a significant amount. It is by no means adequate in providing coverage for the insured, property damage to third parties and it does not cover any repair or replacement for damage to the vehicle itself.
Nini Hoken or optional insurance is not legally required but strongly advised. Make sure you are aware of your excess/deductible, limits and extent of coverage. This may vary substantially to what you are used to in your home countries, please be sure to ask lots of questions and ensure you understand your policy. Often this insurance is included in any car hire but please check out this article if you have further policy questions, there is also a link to buy insurance through a bi-lingual company.