4WD Insurance; why we’ve changed to Club 4×4

4WD insurance is one of the necessary evils in life. You’d rather not have the hassle of finding a good quality policy and paying the premiums month after month, but when something does go wrong (and it does!) you wouldn’t be without it.

4WD insurance
4WD Insurance is a must

The real shame though, is the massive difference between 4WD insurance policies and the lack of transparency and knowledge that goes with it. There are far too many grey areas when it comes to insuring your pride and joy and these often only become apparent after the fact; when its too late to do anything about it.

I’ve seen a lot of people get stung by insurance companies, and its frustrating for me and far worse for those on the receiving end. I’m on a mission to make people more aware of what to look for in a quality 4WD insurance policy.

EDIT – We’ve left Club 4×4, and are now covered by Shannons Insurance. Our Club 4×4 Insurance review was great, but the premium became uneconomical, so we’ve moved. I’d still happily use Club 4×4 Insurance again.

Is your 4WD really covered?

Yep, you’ve got insurance, and are covered should it all go pear shaped. Or are you?

You should be, but due to the many grey areas, long product disclosures and general lack of knowledge within the insurance industry many people find out the hard way. When something does go wrong they either have their claim declined, or they miss out on a substantial portion of it.

There’s a few ways that insurance companies get out of paying 4WD insurance claims, and I’d love to see more people aware of them!

Poor verbal advice

When you ring various insurance companies, you’ll get a whole heap of bad information. Many sales reps doing quotes simply don’t understand the product they are selling, and the market they are covering (referring mainly to the 4WD industry). If you ring up and ask an insurance company whether your Patrol with a 4 inch lift and 35’s is covered, they should tell you straight out, ‘No, its not!’.

However, many will say ‘yeah, no worries’. What they should be telling you is that your vehicle must be legal and roadworthy in order to be covered. If you were to go off their bad advice and have an accident, you’d only find out in the event of a claim that what you were told up front is not correct.

When you question your insurance company, ask them for an answer in writing. This way, if you are influenced by the wrong information, you have a paper trail to back it up.

Driving in excluded areas

Many 4WD’s purchased will drive on a beach from time to time. Did you know some insurance companies won’t cover beach driving? Some won’t even cover you off the bitumen! No, I’m not kidding. Seriously; ring your insurance company and ask them. You might be surprised at the answer.

4WD insurance locations
Where is your 4WD covered?

Along with beach driving, gazetted and non gazetted roads, private property and non registered 4WD tracks, there’s a realm of grey areas where you may or may not be covered by your existing insurance policy. If the PDS says that you aren’t covered for driving in a certain area and you have an accident, what do you reckon the chances of being paid out are?

Not being covered for a realistic amount

It’s important here that you are aware of how, and what your 4WD is insured for. If it is insured for market value, every year that passes the value of your 4WD drops. If you have an accident 5 years after purchasing a 4WD, the market value will have dropped substantially, and you will get much less than what it was originally covered for. That’s fine if you are aware of it, but a lot of people aren’t!

Agreed value on the other hand, is a figure that you set (and the insurance company agrees to), which does not change for the term of the policy (12 months). I believe this is the better option of the two.

Lets take it a step further though; a lot of people have spent thousands of dollars on 4WD accessories. Are you covered for everything bolted onto your 4WD? What do they actually cover? I’ve found insurance companies often won’t cover more than about 30% of the value of the vehicle in modifications and accessories.

If you write your vehicle off then, what would it cost to replace it with an identical one, including all the accessories? Guaranteed its a lot more than what you are covered for!

80 Series 4WD modifications
We’ve spent a small fortune on our 80 Series in modifications

Legal issues

The last one that I will mention relates to having a roadworthy 4WD. Every single insurance company states in their PDS that in order to be covered you must have a vehicle that is roadworthy, and meets the legal requirements within the state you reside.

4WD insurance and modifications
Without engineering, no one is covering a vehicle like this

In Western Australia, that means 50mm increase in vehicle height via tyres, suspension or body lift (and in combination). If you go higher than that, your insurance company has a valid way of getting out of a claim! How many people do you think in Australia are driving vehicles lifted beyond the legal requirements, that have 4WD insurance? Every single one of them can have their claims declined.

If you want the big tyres and lift, you need to have it engineered.

We’ve swapped to Club 4×4 Insurance

EDIT: We believe in being 100% transparent, which is why I have to let you know we have moved away from Club 4×4. We were happy with their service, but the premium on last renewal was significantly more expensive. We signed up for Shannon’s insurance which was significantly cheaper, and will continue to re-visit options in the future. I would have no issues moving back to Club 4×4.

With the above information, you are probably thinking we’ve had a bad experience with our previous insurance company. The truth is, we haven’t. I’ve been with RAC insurance for the better part of 9 years now, and can’t complain much about them at all.club-4x4-logo

I had one claim in my previous Hilux when I rear ended a van on the way to work, and they covered it with minimal issues. That said, since getting the Land Cruiser (and spending a small fortune on it), I haven’t been happy with the level of cover they offered, and they won’t budge. Our vehicle was insured for the maximum value that they would go up to, and it still fell vastly far away from the true replacement cost.

So, when Pat Callinhan started pushing a new insurance company set up purely for 4WD’s, my interest was peaked. I actually attempted to get a quote a year or so back, and it failed online. As you do, life got in the way and I forgot about it.

That is, until Kalen from Club 4×4 Insurance made contact asking if I was interested in getting a quote. It just so happened to be a few days after I received the renewal notice from RAC; perfect timing.

Getting the quote

Getting a quote is easy; you can do it online in 2 minutes at www.club4x4.com.au or call them on 1800 CLUB 4×4 (1800 259 249). They will require a list of your modifications and a replacement value for each (doesn’t have to be correct to the cent!). Once they have the information, give them a day and they will be in touch.

I listed the value of all the accessories fitted to our 80 series, and nearly had a heart attack. Thankfully, Club 4×4 didn’t, and I received a quote the next day. Their premium was higher than I had been paying, but the value of cover was also substantially better.

So, why Club 4×4 Insurance?

Better cover of 4WD accessories

Whilst other insurance companies only cover a small portion of the value of your accessories and modifications, Club 4×4 cover the full price of every single accessory bolted to your 4WD. With RAC, our 80 series was covered for just under $20,000, including the massive list of accessories. Club 4×4 have insured it for $42,200 ($26,000 worth of accessories and $16,200 for the vehicle itself).

Why should you put up with an insurance policy that only covers a portion of the replacement value of your 4WD? Isn’t that the point of insurance; to cover you when something does go wrong?

Club 4x4 Insurance
Full cover for the price of all of your accessories with Club 4×4 Insurance

They understand 4WDs

For the first time in Australia, we have an insurance company that is solely dedicated to insuring 4WD’s. This means they are avid 4WDer’s themselves, and speak our language. You can ask them anything you want to know about your cover, and they will answer it with the knowledge and experience behind them to back it up.

I questioned them on cover for dirty fuel, getting a stick through the radiator causing engine damage, breakdown cover, repair vs write off probability and a whole range of other things. I was impressed with their answers every time, and they didn’t have to put the phone down to talk to a manager, or get back to me after reading their PDS!

Off Road Recovery included

Despite all the preparation under the sun, things still go wrong when you are out and about in your 4WD. Lets say your transfer case fails in the middle of the Simpson Desert, and you need to have your vehicle recovered back to the nearest town. Who’s going to help you?

Club 4x4 vehicle recovery
Broken down? Club 4×4 cover mechanical and electrical recoveries up to $1500 as standard

I know of no insurance company that will cover the costs of recovering a 4WD that has had a mechanical or electrical failure. Club 4×4 cover $1500 with all of their policies, and you have the option of getting cover all the way up to $30,000 if required.

When it comes to remote area recoveries, expect it to cost huge money; we are talking $400 per hour, from the moment a 4WD truck is turned on to come and get you until you get back home!

Most insurance companies will recover your vehicle in the event of an accident from wherever you are (as long as you are covered to be there). Club 4×4 does this too; its pretty standard cover, just Club 4×4 covers breakdown recovery too.

Touring gear cover included

I don’t like leaving my camp gear behind for the day, even when its way out in the bush. There are too many grubs around these days, and when you’ve spent a small fortune to live comfortably when camping, I reckon I’ve got every right to be concerned. We do what we can; hide anything that is expensive, shut everything up and take whats practical with us. However, at some point you’ve just got to trust that no ones going to come and take your Oztent and other expensive gear.

Club 4×4 Insurance covers up to 2 grand worth of touring gear. This includes camping gear left unattended. If you want more cover, you have the option of increasing this up to $10,000. Ever heard of another insurance company offering this?

Camping gear insurance
Got a nice camping setup? Club 4×4 cover that too; up to $2000 as standard

They are clear and straight forward

It makes my blood boil to speak to other 4WD owners who are confused about where they are covered, what they are insured for and what affects their insurance policy. Why is there so many grey areas, and so many confused people? So many insurance companies hide behind the fine print in their PDS, and are able to catch you out in the event of a claim.

club-4x4-product-disclosureClub 4×4 don’t fit into this category; they are direct, straight forward and clear. Just recently, they published an article regarding illegal modifications done on your 4WD. Ever seen another insurance company come out and say it as it is?

You’ll find Club 4×4 on a number of 4WD forums too, answering any questions directly.

They have great reviews

Reading 4WD insurance reviews online can be entertaining. I spent a fair bit of time looking up Club 4×4 insurance reviews, and there’s lots of happy customers. I won’t recommend products unless I personally use them, and believe what they offer is decent. Their customer retention rate is high too, which is a good reflection of what they offer.

You’d be mad not to check them out

Well, I’ll leave it up to you, but for a couple of minutes of your time, I reckon Club 4×4 Insurance deserves a look. It takes a couple of minutes to do the quote request online, or just send them an email via the website and have them call you at a convenient time. I’m sure you’ll be impressed with what they offer. From there, you have to decide is Club 4×4 Insurance worth it? That comes down to your personal situation.

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  1. Hey David,

    That’s a pretty major pricing difference! Ours is up for renewal shortly and I’ll be ringing around

    Cheers for the comment

  2. David Krome says:

    I just left club4x4 for same reason. Renewal was $2300 Shannon’s $895

  3. Hey Pat,

    Most normal insurance companies will have a limit to what they will insure a vehicle for (RAC, SGIO, Allianz, GIO etc). There are a couple of exceptions; Club 4×4 and Shannons. We were very happy with Club 4×4, but have since moved to Shannons as their pricing was considerably cheaper.

    I’d be happy with either though, but have a read of the benefits of each company and go with what suits best for your individual circumstances

    All the best

  4. Gday guys ,looking at insuring my dual cab hilux 4wd along with my hzj75 cruiser, both with heaps of extras but legal, how’s the club 4×4 insurance going ?

    Anything to look out for or any better out there?

    Thanks Pat

  5. Hi Marcel,

    I’m pleased to see you are looking into this in depth. It’s rare that you can do too much reading.

    Club 4×4 are not for everyone, and they are quite clear about that. That said, they do have a number of differences that your broker may have missed:

    – They cover you anywhere in Australia, as long as you are allowed to be there and not doing something illegal. That means gazetted roads, non gazetted roads, 4WD parks, private property (that you have permission to be on) and anywhere else. A lot of insurance companies will not cover you for non gazetted roads, and especially 4WD parks.
    – Club 4×4 cover dollar for dollar on modifications. Our old Land Cruiser was insured for $42k. About 16k for the vehicle, and the rest for modifications. There are very, very few companies that will do this. This is to ensure that if you do write your vehicle off, you are not out of pocket building an identical one back up. They have dual cab 80 Series covered for 70k plus. RAC wouldn’t cover mine for more than 20k.
    – You’ve mentioned the offroad cover, but this can be adjusted (at a cost) to suit your requirements. If you need recovering from the middle of the desert, expect recovery costs to be in the tens of thousands of dollars
    – 2k to 10k cover of personal valuables. This applies to fridges, or camping gear that is outside of your vehicle, and even left alone at camp.
    – Separate canopy insurance (only applicable if you have a ute!)

    They also cover bad fuel, give you the choice of repairer and the first choice to purchase your vehicle back if its written off.

    As I said, it may not be for you, but they do offer a number of things that are different to your run of the mill insurance.

    Best of luck, and I’m sure you’ll end up with the best insurance to suit your requirements.

  6. Hi Aaron
    Thank you for all the time and effort you have put into this site to help us 4x4er’s
    I took your advice making sure the 4x is legal (roadworthy). Thank you for your concerns and warnings re unroadworthy vehicles. I found a few glaring things that had to be rectified.

    I compared my policy which is a normal car policy with Allianz due next month against your recommendation Club 4×4.
    Here is what my Broker found comparing ‘Duty Of Disclosure’ docs:

    “I have had a quick look at that policy (Club 4×4 Insurance) and for the most part, it’s just a standard car insurance – there are two benefits in there which a standard policy won’t offer. On the basis of this, you could take that policy but just make sure you understand exactly what they cover as per the wording attached because they aren’t really as they seem (to me anyway):

    · Recovery costs – if you get stuck due to mechanical issues, they will tow you to the nearest gazetted road. Consider how much use being towed to, and left at, the nearest gazetted road will be if you’ve got mechanical issues? Also consider if you need to be recovered because you’re simply stuck (doing a river crossing etc) then will $1,300 ($1,500 minus $200 excess) be enough to get anywhere near a remote location? You would need to take out the additional recovery costs – probably for several thousand more. Note, your current Allianz policy has no cover at all for recovery due to mechanical breakdown (but provides free unlimited towing due to damage) so this 4×4 policy is a step up in that respect but please don’t assume it fully covers you.

    · Roadside assist – this will cover you for roadside assistance within 50kms and then anything over and above this they charge you for at ‘industry rates’ (whatever that means). So if you’re in the red centre you’ll be out of pocket for several thousand kms anyway meaning the cover probably doesn’t have much work to do.”

    Club 4×4 Product Disclosure Statement, page 9 – 10
    ‘This service is provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, courtesy of our arrangement with Australia Wide Assist (AWA).
    This optional extra is only applicable to roadside assistance on a sealed road.
    …Towing Range: AWA will provide a ’50KM’ free of charge service for roadside response and breakdown towing on a national basis, with all excess km’s charged at the recommended industry rates.”

    In the real world:
    Roads in most of Central Queensland’s towns are dirt, sand or gravel except the main highway running through the town centre. Example Queensland’s largest Northwest city Mt Isa (pop around 23,000) all dirt 5ks from the city centre except for the main highways. Some outback communities have no sealed roads in or out of town which makes the Club 4×4 optional extras look rather lame.

    Can you or any for your readers tell me if I’m missing something.


  7. Hey mate,

    Good that you’ve pointed it out. I’ll see what I can find out


  8. Oh and to quote Kal “Ultimately insurance is a contract, so make sure you understand” so on one hand he is all about the PDS and then on the other it’s “Trust me”. Needs to make his mind up.

  9. Aaron,

    I have spoken to Kal at Club 4×4 about it a couple of times and he just side steps it, I was going to go with Club 4×4 until I saw that in the PDS. I have a feeling the underwriters Hollards legal team wrote the PDS and Club 4×4 have no control over it and it won’t be getting changed. The PDS also states they cannot be held to any statement outside the PDS that is in conflict with it. So they have a pretty strong legal out and I find that pretty abhorrent given the public statements Kal makes about it.

    If they were being honest that clause would not be in the PDS and it wouldn’t have been strengthened in the Supplementary. Nothing Kal says can dance around it. He just comes back with the “trust me” line.

  10. Hey Matt,

    Now I see your point, and think its valid. I reckon this is just an oversight in the PDS, and something that they’d be happy to clear up in a future PDS. I know they have made a few amendments already. I dare say with that post out and about Club 4×4 wouldn’t have much of a leg to stand on regarding mods that didn’t contribute to an accident. It’s pretty hard to include everything into a PDS, but you have identified a bit of a hole. Have you asked Club 4×4 about it? I’ll let them know too.


  11. Aaron,

    Actually Club 4×4 have said they do, in that very post you linked and I quote;

    “The key question however, is will we cover illegal modifications when it comes to claim time?
    The simple answer is, yes”

    The PDS categorically states of opposite, and it’s the PDS that is legally binding. The PDS also doesn’t make any mention of “if an illegal modification contributes” rather it black and white says if the vehicle is not roadworthy in the state it’s registered in it’s not covered if you are at fault.

  12. Hi Matt,

    Club 4×4 have never said they cover illegal modifications. They’ve always said if an illegal modification contributes to an accident they can decline or reduce the pay out. This is the same as every insurance company in Australia. The only difference with Club 4×4 is they are open about it, as per this post: https://www.club4x4.com.au/modification/, which was also linked in the above post.

    Secondary to this, if you have an accident with any insurance company and haven’t told them about the mods you are going to be in hot water.


  13. Pity about the PDS;

    Page 18 – If you contributed to the loss or intended the claim to happen
    Under the section titled ‘If you contributed to the loss or intended the claim to happen’, the bullet point
    that reads:
     your vehicle was converted, altered or modified from its manufacturer’s specifications and we have
    not agreed in writing to accept the risk of your vehicle in such modified condition.
    is deleted and replaced with:
     your vehicle was converted, altered or modified from its manufacturer’s specifications and is no
    longer roadworthy or legal within the state it is registered.

    So the claim they cover illegal modification is not an honest one. The PDS clearly states;

    You will not be covered under the policy for any loss, damage or legal liability
    if at the time of the event giving rise to the loss, damage or legal liability:

    If your vehicle was converted, altered or modified from its manufacturer’s specifications and is no
    longer roadworthy or legal within the state it is registered.

    So illegal modifications = not roadworthy = no cover. Just like every other PDS of every other Insurance company. They have a 100% iron clad out.

  14. Hey Noel,

    They have put their premiums up, as have many insurers. I got my renewal the other day, which is up a bit from last year but not hugely

    If you don’t feel its good value, look for someone else


  15. Club 4×4 have raised their premiums massively in the last few months. Gouging their customers with no valid reason and are losing alot of customers. Buyer beware.

  16. Hey Miss,

    Sorry to hear you aren’t happy with them. We’ve had a very good run with them so far, and even had to make a claim a week ago, which overall went fine. It will probably take them a while to settle in, but they are filling a niche that a lot of people are appreciative of.

    I can see that insurance is going to tighten up in the next few years, just because of the way things are going, and Club 4×4 seem to do things in a very thorough way. At the end of the day, they are bound by the same rules and regs as every other insurance company, so they can’t go too far off the ‘correct path’. Either way, if you aren’t happy with them, then moving to another company like you say is not a bad move.

    Best of luck, and thanks for your comments.


  17. I went with club 4×4 when they first started up but they keep changing their policy and are amateurs. They are making it up on the fly and it gives me zero confidence they will cover me if I ever have to claim. An example – when I signed up they asked if I had ever made a motor claim. I hadn’t. Now they have just ‘clarified’ their policy to say this includes not at fault, or windscreen. Well, I was with RACV and made a claim on a windscreen years ago as it was an extra cover and not included as a motor claim. In fact, RACV didn’t even increase my premium the year after I claimed with them. As soon as I saw the club 4×4 wording change I rang them to disclose my windscreen. They promptly upped my preium as they classify this as a motor claim. (RACV didn’t) But the irony is club 4×4 don’t inlcude windscreen as part of their normal motor coverage and are also charging me $69 a year for windscreen cover. This doesn’t even make sense. Now they’re charging me around $1,000 as a rating one driver. I will be cancelling this week.

  18. Azi Sheikh says:

    Thanks Aaron that makes perfect sense

  19. Hey Azi,

    They cover your vehicle if it is legal within the state its registered. I dare say a 3 to 4 inch lift isn’t going to be legal, so you’d need to get it engineered.

    That said, Club 4×4 clearly say in one of their posts that the illegal modification has to contribute to the accident in order for it to affect your claim; if you get rear ended or clip a pole in a car park the lift isn’t going to have contributed and they will still pay out as normal. The difference is Club 4×4 don’t hide behind this like so many other insurance companies. Have a read of this – http://www.club4x4.com.au/modification/


  20. Azi Sheikh says:

    Great write up mate. Can you advise if they cover lift kits? 3 or 4inch