How much do you really know about 4WD insurance?
4WD Insurance is something that people often overlook. Having the right insurance for your vehicle is vital, primarily because of financial implications if something does go wrong. As a minimum, everyone should have third party property insurance, as it could save you a lot of money. The risk is simply not worth taking.
Having good quality insurance is a way to protect your 4WD in case the worst happens (as we all know it does from time to time!). I’d suggest you have a read of this too; Is your 4WD Legal?
We’ve moved from Club 4×4 to Shannons Insurance. Not because we were unhappy with their service, but because Shannons was significantly cheaper.
Update: October 2016:
We’ve just swapped our 4WD Insurance over to Club 4×4, a new insurer who specialises in 4WD’s. Their policies are very different from what I’ve seen elsewhere. You can read the full post here – Why we’ve swapped to Club 4×4 Insurance.
Types of 4WD Insurance
When you pay your rego for your four wheel drive this is included. It basically means that the insurance will cover other people involved in an accident with your vehicle. These costs can be extensive in a serious accident. This is one of the reasons why driving a vehicle that is not registered is a stupid idea!
3rd Party Property
As I mentioned above, everyone should buy 3rd Party Property Insurance for their 4WD’s. This covers the other vehicles in a crash if you have an accident. It does not cover your vehicle. Without 3rd Party Insurance, you can be up for many thousands of dollars if you hit an expensive car.
If something goes wrong and you run into the back of a new four wheel drive or nice sports car, you can get yourself into a lifetime of debt and the insurance companies will hassle you until they get paid.
I know people who have had to take out a loan over many years to pay for a car just because they thought they could get away without paying for 3rd Party Property Car insurance. The cost of this insurance is nothing in comparison to the risk you run of having an accident over many years of driving.
Comprehensive insurance covers both your vehicle and any other vehicles involved in a car crash. It’s worth looking at the cost of your premium to decide whether or not you want to pay the extra money (as the premiums jump up quite a bit).
Generally those with a vehicle worth over $15 000 decide to pay for Comprehensive insurance, and if it is worth less than this then 3rd Party Property can be a good option. However, this is not always the case. It really comes down to your individual circumstances. How much you use your vehicle, how likely it is to get stolen or damaged, and what you would be able to do without the vehicle.
Many 4×4 insurance companies will offer extras, like free glass replacement, hire cars in the case of an accident, cover for theft and fire and the list goes on. Depending on your circumstances these can be great value (given that they usually don’t cost that much per year extra).
Who sells 4WD Insurance?
There are lots of places you can get insurance for your 4WD. Some of these are dedicated 4WD insurance companies, and others are your generic insurance companies that do everything from cars through to house and contents policies.
A few of the better known insurance companies for a 4WD are Club 4×4, Allianz, RAC, HBF, Youi, Bingle, NRMA, GIO, Budget Direct, Just Cars, Shannons, SGIO, QBE, Westpac, Ken Tame and the list goes on. There are many other companies that also offer four wheel drive insurance, and many policies vary from one to another.
Getting a good deal on 4WD Insurance
My best advice to anyone looking for 4×4 Insurance is to shop around. Make a list of quotes from at least 3 companies, and then try to bargain for the best price. Many companies will beat another quote, which is how you get the best deal.
I know when I was looking for insurance I was quoted $2200 a year for full comprehensive by one company and then $1000 by another, which is a massive difference. You can save several hundred dollars each year by spending a few hours getting quotes! Even if you only save $200 that’s still time well spent!
If you have other insurance policies, consider combining them. You get significant discounts for combining private health, home and contents, boats, caravans and camper trailer insurance together (for obvious reasons).
Don’t be afraid to let your current insurance provider know that you aren’t happy with what they are offering and that you are looking around. They might just give you a better deal. If you don’t shop around you are encouraging the insurance companies to stop being competitive, which does no one a favour!
One interesting discovery that I’ve found is often new customers get better deals, to the point where I’ve actually signed up for a new insurance policy for my home and contents, and two vehicles with the same company, and then ditched the old policies. Now, they should just give you a better price if you ask, but these guys wouldn’t!
What type of insurance do you need?
The type of insurance that you purchase should be based around your individual circumstances. I won’t give specific advice here. Consider whether you could afford to buy another vehicle if your one got written off and you weren’t insured.
Consider how many years of paying your premium it would take to buy another car. Consider how old you are, and the number of accidents you have had. If you are four wheel driving there is a greater chance you will do damage to your car, and some people just like the comfortable feeling knowing that if they do damage it will be covered.
Off road insurance policies can vary a lot, from not covering you on any private property, through to the more sensible ones that cover you anywhere in Australia as long as you aren’t doing anything illegal and you are allowed to be there.
Insuring your modifications
If you have done any modifications to your 4WD, you should get them insured. This includes everything from a new sound system through to a bull bar, upgraded seats, alarms, LPG systems, engine modifications, tyre and rim upgrades and the list goes on.
These things are often worth just as much as your vehicle over a few years of modifying, and if they aren’t included in your policy then you can get a serious shock! Most insurance companies will automatically cover a few thousand dollars worth of accessories, but if its any more than that unless its listed, you won’t be covered for it. If you are considering further modifications, check out 15 common mistakes to avoid when modifying your 4WD.
Insure your gear inside the car!
If you carry anything that is of value in your vehicle you want to know that it is covered too. Whether that be camping gear, sports gear, electronics or anything else, it doesn’t cost a whole lot more to make sure that everything is covered. Many people who are holidaying in their four wheel drive have several thousand dollars worth of gear inside, and it hurts when it gets taken and you aren’t covered for it.
Agreed Value vs Market Value
More and more insurance companies are pushing for Market value only, which is a serious problem, particularly for four wheel drives. In a nutshell, your vehicle depreciates over time and becomes worth less and less.
The market value decreases from year to year, meaning that you are covered for less the longer you are insured under Market Value policy. Basically, if you purchase a car, and have an accident several years later you can be in for a rude shock when you find out what the car is ‘worth’ as the market value could have dropped significantly.
The reason it is so hurtful for four wheel drivers is that most 4WD’s have at least a few modifications on them, which ‘lifts’ the value. Market Value is usually calculated off a standard vehicle, and any modifications or upgrades are ignored unless listed in your policy. If you have to get Market Value 4×4 Insurance, make sure that you have your modifications listed for the right value.
My preferred way to get 4×4 Insurance is to have an Agreed Value policy. This is where you state how much you want your vehicle insured for (within reason) and this stays the same year after year. This is great because you can incorporate everything into your car. Remember that increasing the amount your vehicle is insured for costs very little compared to the extra money you would get back in the case of an accident.
Is it worth joining a 4WD club?
A lot of people suggest joining a four wheel drive club, because insurance companies often give discounts if you are a part of one. If you are part of a club (one that is formally recognized) then they believe you are a better driver and will reward you for it. If this is the case in your situation, then it’s worth doing!
Is your car legal?
The biggest mistake people make when getting insurance is buying it for a car that is not legal. I want to make this very, very clear. If you are driving a 4WD that is illegal in any way at all, the insurance companies are able to decline your claims if the modification contributes to a claim. What this ultimately means is that buying insurance for your car could be a waste of money if it is even slightly illegal.
There are so many ways that your car can be illegal, ranging from tyres that are too big, lifting your car too much, wheel spacers, engine modifications that are not approved, spotlights in the wrong place and the list goes on for pages and pages. For more information, check out 32 ways to make your 4WD illegal.
Every state has different laws regarding this, so if anything has been modified it is vital that you find out whether it is legal or not. There are some very serious consequences if your car is not legal and you are in an accident.
As a general rule, most 4×4 Insurance companies will cover any modifications on your vehicle provided they are legal, as defined by the laws in your particular state. However, you need to notify them of the modification, or again they are able to reject your claim.
What can you expect to pay for 4WD Insurance?
This is a broad question, because of the number of variables. Males get charged higher premiums than that of females, younger people get charged more than those who have been driving for many years, four wheel drives get charged more than smaller cars, unsafe colours get charged more than bright colours that stand out and of course if you have had any accidents then you can expect a sharp premium rise! In saying this, I will give my example below:
1997 Hilux insured for $11500 with comprehensive insurance (and free glass) was about $1100 a year when I was 19. Since then, it has dropped to about $800 (21 y/o male). The premiums drop significantly as you get older, and depending on the vehicle you are driving.
Our 80 Series Land Cruiser was covered with Club 4×4 for $42,000 agreed value, at about $1200 a year. We eventually sold this, as well as the Hilux, and moved on.
Today, our Isuzu Dmax today is covered for around 55k, at around $1500 a year.
Be aware also that there’s no such thing as the best 4WD insurance. It’s simply who can give you the right cover for you, at a good price. If you want vehicle recovery services, or huge coverage of modifications then you are looking at a totally different insurance policy to the average bloke who drives to and from work along the local highway.
Are you insured for off road use?
This is something you want to look into. Not every company will insure you for off road use (and their definitions of off-road use can vary) which kind of defeats the purpose of insurance in a four wheel drive for most people! This is the perfect example of how cheap 4×4 insurance may not be the best 4×4 insurance.
Many companies will insure you anywhere in Australia provided that you are on a four wheel drive track that is legal. Some will not insure you for beach driving, and there are often other conditions that you want to look into. Club 4×4 have introduced a water crossing clause, which means if you write your vehicle off by voluntarily driving through water, your excess is considerably high.
Free Windscreens with 4WD Insurance?
For most people, it’s worth paying a few dollars more each year for free windscreens. When you are four wheel driving the chance of cracking or chipping your windscreen is significantly increased, and given the cost that it is to get a new one fitted it is usually a good decision to make.
Is it worth insuring you car?
I mentioned above that everyone SHOULD have 3rd party property insurance regardless of how much your car is worth, but a lot of people choose not to insure their own vehicle. This is particularly in the case of vehicles that are worth under $5000 as the premiums often don’t justify what you are insuring!
For me personally, I’d prefer to pay a bit more knowing that if I do happen to damage my car off road it is covered. Having to fork out for another car is something I wouldn’t be able to afford to do, which is my justification. Weigh up your situation and then make an educated decision.
Be wary of modifications to your vehicle
I can’t stress enough that you take care in modifying your vehicle. I would say that at least 10% of four wheel drives on the road are illegal in one way or another, which causes a lot of drama when they are in an accident in regards to insurance companies.
There is nothing worse than thinking you are insured to find out that you are knocked back because your tyres are 50mm too big, or because your car was lifted up too much.
Engineer Certificates and 4WD Insurance
If you do want to modify your vehicle beyond what is legal, you need to take it to an engineer. They will be able to tell you what you can do and what boundaries you need to stay within, and then when it has been modified (or you can pay for them to do it) they will test it and sign it off for you (if it passes!).
It will likely need to go over the pits again, and potentially a lane change test. This route is expensive, but it is the only way to put some of the more serious modifications on your vehicle and keep it legal at the same time.
Report any changes to your vehicle
I have mentioned this above, but I will say it again. If you change anything on your vehicle you need to report it to the insurance company. This is not only good practice because they have a record of any improvements you have made, but it is also a requirement for when (if) you submit a claim.
If you insure your car as a stock Landcruiser and have an accident with 35” Maxxis Bighorn tyres, a 5 inch lift kit and other modifications without the insurance company knowing about it (and getting it engineered in this case) you could be in a lot of financial trouble!
4WD Insurance against theft and fire
Many comprehensive policies cover theft and fire, and if they don’t its worth considering. It barely costs anything, and when you think about the value of your four wheel drive it makes the decision easier. Regardless of what people think the value of your car is, it takes years to set a four wheel drive up just how you want it, and that’s where the real value comes into place.
4WD’s are worth so much to so many of us. It takes a lot of time, energy and skill to make them into the machines that you want them to be, and to see it all flushed away is something I know I would much rather avoid. 4×4 Insurance can be a life saver; make sure you pick the right policy for your individual situation, that your car is legal and that you are getting a good deal.
I’d like to hear below from those who have had issues with insurance, your opinions on modifications and four wheel drives and any companies that you would recommend! Also, feel free to put up examples of what your premiums are and the value of your car.
There’s really only two in the business that will do that. Club 4×4 and Shannon’s. You might be able to find a normal insurer (like RAC) who will lift the value up that much, or perhaps an insurance broker, but the two most common are as mentioned earlier. Both seem to have a pretty good reputation
All the best
im looking for an insurance company who will cover my fj cruiser for what I’ve paid, they are saying book is 22-28k, but cost of 42k
I was under the impression Club 4×4 do business insurance – give them a call. Other than that, Shannons might, along with Ken Tame and Toyota Insurance? I’m not really sure though mate; you’d be better off asking one of the existing tour operators
All the best
We are looking for a better deal for insurance on a 200 series 4WD vehicle. We are a business and the vehicle is used as the lead vehicle on tag along tours.
We understand that Club 4×4 does not offer insurance to businesses.
Do you know of any other insurance companies that will cover a business 4WD vehicle?
Looking forward to your response.
You’ll have to give someone a call; we are just providing information on what you should look for.
Nice 4WD though – I love them!
I would like a 4WD specific insurance quote for my brand new Suzuki Jimny please.
Sorry to hear you’ve had a bad run with them. In my experience they’ve been great. I’ve made two claims and had no problems at all. Might I suggest you ring and speak to Kalen, and see how you go? Otherwise the only company who seems to offer similar to Club 4×4 is Shannons
I can verify that Club 4×4 have become almost impossible to deal with. Over the last several months, I have had difficulty after difficulty getting responses from them. I have dealt with several of their staff, all of whom have had excuses as to why they’ve been too busy to answer my calls and emails. When I finally got a quote for my recently modified 4×4 I was desperate to have it insured before I drove it home, so I accepted it and paid in full. A while later, I received an email saying that the windscreen was not covered, and I emailed back saying that this was not good enough and they needed to insure that as well. No reply. Weeks later, I finally got through to talk with them, and they promised to review the records and get back to me about it. They made an appointment with me to call at a certain time. No call. It’s been a couple of weeks now and I’m going to have to try yet again to get in contact with them myself. My full time work involves travel and I rarely have the chance to make personal calls etc, let alone to wait for half an hour on hold then not get through or to have a long- winded conversation which amounts to no progress whatsoever. I’m currently running my old insurance as well as the Club 4×4 insurance, which I paid 12 month’s worth already, just to be sure I’m covered properly, and am now looking at other insurers entirely. By the way, I did do my homework and the other insurers I sought quotes from either wouldn’t insure for all the work done (despite it being professionally done and certified) or wouldn’t insure off road properly, so I felt I had no choice but to use Club 4×4. Now I’m prepared to take this to whatever authority I need to, because they clearly are running a dodgy service. If they’re this dreadful just on enquiries, what are they going to be like if I need to make a claim??? Not happy. Taking it further.
I am genuinely surprised, but you’ve done your best. All the best with who ever you pick 🙂
Hi Aaron, thanks for the heads up and this reply is just to make my post complete. I am not planning to go on about it unless I think it might be to your readers interest. It could be I am the only one this is happening to but I doubt it.
Of course I kept trying for a quote, as I think this kind of insurance is worth the money, but have not been able to extract a quote from them to this day .
So ………….. 05/07/2019 I called. Spoke to a guy whom confirmed that he had found my new quote number in the system and that he was looking at the photos, sent on 17/06/2019. They were okay, he said.
On 06/07/2019 he sent an email requesting all receipts regarding the modifications: EnduroCo 4 WD system, 140ml lift + certification, auxiliary diesel tank + bull bar. Also proof of the booked in High Top roof, to be put on next week.
I sent the documents the same day and he replyed on 08/07/2019 with confirmation but also asked for
4 photos of the vehicle.
I reminded him of the photos already sent, he did not reply and I sent them anyway. no response.
So today, 15/07/2019, one week later, I think I am going to follow up on your advice and have a look elsewhere.
It is just a pity I spent so much time on this insurer.
Sorry to hear you’ve had a rough time. I would ring and ask again. They’ve been pretty good for me, including two claims, but it sounds like they’ve messed up here.
Try again, or look at alternatives. Keen to hear more about your 4WD too – sounds unreal
Thanks for all the information! I came across your website when searching for insurers that are willing to insure my
2017 Toyota Hiace SLWB, 4WD, High Top roof and Club4x4 would be my first choice, but so far my experiences are not good.
For 6 weeks now I have been trying to get a quote from them on Agreed value + modifications but so far I have not received anything from them.
In May I requested a quote through their website which told me to reply to an email, including 4 photos of the TH.
That email never arrived. Almost 3 weeks later a reminder email came in to which I replied. No response
I then sent an email with photos and a list of modifications + their value. No response.
Then I sent an online enquiry which generated a standard reply that they were going to contact me but they didn’t.
I also tried to call a couple of times but the waiting times were very long so I gave up.
Last Friday, the 28th of June, I called them and got somebody on the line, the lady took all the details again as she could not find my quote number in the system, or my name or my email address. She could not quote me either as the modifications needed to be assessed under an urgent referral by a different department.
I would receive the quote the same day.
It is Tuesday, the 2nd of July, now and I have not heard from them.
Okay, the excuse that they moved house, changed IT system and had to hire extra staff, I all get that, have been in
that situation a lot myself as manager of a large hospital unit, but this is rediculous.
You wonder, if they can not handle the request for a quote under difficult circumstances how are they going to handle your insurance and maybe claim?
Give them a call mate, on 1800 258 249 or submit an online inquiry on their website at https://www.club4x4.com.au/contact-us/.
Just inquiring about 4×4 insurance, I have a 2007 range rover sport, I would like a quote for full comprehensive insurance, just gathering quotes for when its due in a few months time.