Is your 4WD really insured?

Are you 100% confident with your 4WD insurance? When you head down to the beach, a 4WD park or some remote 4WD track are positive you are covered should it all go wrong?

If you are like a lot of Australian 4WD owners, you’ve probably never thought a whole lot about 4WD insurance. The dreaded bill arrives and you get the money together to pay it without much further thought.

What would it mean for you if your 4WD was involved in a bad accident, and your insurance company wriggled their way out of a claim? Wouldn’t you be absolutely horrified to find out that you aren’t covered for beach driving, or entry to 4WD parks?

2016 Isuzu Dmax
4WD tracks can put your vehicle at a fairly high level of risk, so get your insurance right

In this post, we are going to look at why its so important to understand 4WD insurance, and what you need to look for in a quality 4WD insurance policy. I don’t know about you, but I like knowing that my 4WD is really insured should things go wrong.


EDIT: We are no longer affiliated with Club 4×4. This was not for any particular reason; we moved to Shannons for a period when they were offering better pricing, and have moved back to Club 4×4 for our Big Lap of Australia, as Shannons Insurance would not cover our vehicle for such a long trip. You can read our Shannons Insurance Review here.

We’ve partnered with Club 4×4, who are a dedicated 4WD insurance business and who are shaking the insurance niche up. I’ve agreed to help spread the word about the services they offer, and why they are different, and better than other insurance companies.

Fear not; I’m not telling you to move to Club 4×4; this is generic information that you can speak to your insurance company about. If you aren’t happy with their answers, Club 4×4 are happy to chat to you.

What would it cost to replace your 4WD?

If your 4WD were to be written off today, would the pay out from your insurance company cover the total cost of getting another vehicle with the same accessories and modifications? In many cases, your insurance company will only cover a portion of the true cost to build a like for like vehicle.

My last vehicle was an 80 Series Land Cruiser, and was originally insured with RAC for $20,000. With over $26,000 worth of modifications done to it, I would have been hugely out of pocket if it was written off. I found Club 4×4, did a huge amount of research and signed up for a policy covering the vehicle for a whopping $46,000, meaning if my vehicle was written off I could easily buy another one and set it up the same as it was.

Now, there’s not necessarily anything wrong with being under insured, providing you are aware of the gap. What sucks is when someone is involved in an accident and they only find out after the fact that to replace their vehicle like for like is substantially more than what they are covered for.

80 series land cruiser build
Our 80 Series before and after a long build up

Where are you covered?

I’ve done my fair share of digging around information on various insurance companies, and one thing that varies hugely is where you are covered.

One would expect that if you take out insurance for your 4WD you would be covered anywhere you are allowed to go, including beaches, 4WD parks and 4WD tracks. However, this is not always the case; many insurance companies will not cover your 4WD on private property (which rules out 4WD parks), and some won’t even cover you for beach driving! What is the point of insurance for a 4WD if it doesn’t cover you off road?

Just because you’d expect to be covered where it would be logical doesn’t always mean you are; take a few minutes to find out! If you aren’t satisfied with the answers you are given, its time to look for a different insurance company.

There have been a number of people who’ve written vehicles off in 4WD parks and on beaches, only to have their insurance company bluntly state ‘we don’t cover you there’. Unfortunately, the responsibility falls on the owner to read the fine print, but most people wont ever bother! Once the damage is done, its too late, and its a real kick in the guts.

4WD insurance beach drivin
If your vehicle is written off on a beach, are you covered?

The new Dmax insurance

A couple of months ago we replaced our 80 Series Land Cruiser with an Isuzu Dmax on a novated lease. This is essentially a giant package that is partly salary sacrificed through work, which covers the cost of the vehicle, fuel, maintenance, registration and insurance.

As part of the Novated lease with Toyota Fleet Management, I was signed up to Toyota Insurance, which from all accounts seem to have a solid reputation. However, now knowing that its so easy to get caught out with 4WD insurance, I decided to do some extra research.

The best place to start with any 4WD insurance is to read the PDS (Product Disclosure Statement). I opened it up online, and hit the search button: “Beach” “Gazetted” “Private Property” “Water Crossings”. I couldn’t find a single thing referencing anything to do with 4WDing.

Now, given that most of their customers are probably not 4WD owners, I sent my contact at Toyota Fleet Management an email asking about where I would be covered, and was told that beach driving and being on non gazetted roads would mean I wasn’t covered.

Up until then the Dmax had not been off road, so I hadn’t put myself in any risk. However, it was concerning nonetheless. Not content with the answers, I thought I’d ring Toyota Insurance themselves to double check. The operator didn’t know the answers to my questions, but was happy to send an email through (always get these things in writing!) with information once he had found out.

As it turns out Toyota Insurance actually does cover beach driving and a few other logical areas, but I still wasn’t happy with what they offered, especially knowing of Club 4×4 and what they do differently.

Dmax build up
Our new Dmax, now insured with Club 4×4. The build up is continuing!

What makes Club 4×4 different?

Australia has never had a dedicated 4WD insurance company until Club 4×4 started up. The closest thing in the past has been a couple of ‘car specialist’ insurance companies. Most people have their insurance policies with run of the mill insurance companies who do everything from trailer and house insurance to health and travel cover.

Club 4×4 was specifically started to target the 4WD insurance niche, and they’ve done a pretty amazing job of creating a unique product, clarifying a whole heap of information that was in the past a grey area and allowing for fair cover for 4WD owners.

Yes, they are a business, and yes they need to make money, but the policies they offer are 100% tailored to 4WD owners. This in turn makes it hard to compare them to run of the mill insurance companies. However, I’ll do what I can, and mention the things that makes Club 4×4 different. You can see how important these are for your situation, and then chat to your insurance company about it:

Full value of modifications covered with no limitation (agreed value vs market value too)

Every dollar you spend on your 4WD in modifications and accessories is matched on your policy with Club 4×4. If you have a 20k 4WD and you spend 30k on accessories, you can be covered for 50k.
Club 4×4 have some GU patrols and 80 Series Land Cruisers covered for around 70k! You also get the option of choosing market value, or agreed value insurance.
Most insurance companies will cap the amount of extras you can insure, and won’t give you the option of agreed or market value.
4WD insurance in Australia
Our 80 Series, covered for more than double its unmodified value with Club 4×4

Specialist 4WD insurance; understanding modifications and the way 4WD owners use their vehicles

Club 4×4 are all about 4WD’s. They understand dual cab chops, chassis extensions, engineering and the amount of time and money that goes into building a 4WD. When you want to have a technical question answered about 4WD’s, they will be able to answer it quickly and easily. Try ringing a vanilla insurance company and asking them to cover your dual cab chop and see what happens!

Canopy insurance on top of the agreed value

4WD canopies are expensive. Not just a little, but insanely expensive. We are talking up to 20k for an empty shell, and easily 30 – 40k for a fully decked out, top of the range one.
If you don’t have the ute canopy insured as a separate item, you could be in a world of pain when it comes to making a claim. Club 4×4 offer separate canopy insurance for utes, which is a major bonus if you’ve spent a fortune on setting one up.
Land Cruiser canopy
Got a special canopy setup? Is it covered when things go horribly wrong?

Covered anywhere in Australia including 4WD parks, gazetted and non gazetted roads

Club 4×4 will cover your 4WD anywhere in Australia, as long as you are allowed to be there, and you are being sensible. The ‘being sensible’ means checking water crossings before you jump in, not racing your 4WD and essentially looking after your 4WD.

A clear stance on legal and illegal modifications

I’ve long been frustrated by the lack of clarity when it comes to 4WD modifications. Some insurance companies ‘insure’ vehicles that are clearly illegal. However, in the event of an accident, what happens? They have a legal right to walk away from the claim.

Club 4×4 have written a post covering all this, which you can read here. Essentially, they will cover legal and illegal modifications, but if you have an accident and the modifications contribute to the accident you may have your claim reduced or denied. That’s pretty scary, especially when you think about what vehicles there are on the road you could run into!

If you aren’t sure of what’s legal and what’s not, this post will help you out; how to make your 4WD illegal.

4WD tyre size Speedo
Legal or not? Make sure you check! Club 4×4 are very clear on what they cover

Off road recovery from a non claimable event ($1500 to 30k)

 If you have an accident, its your insurance companies problem to have your vehicle recovered. Even if this is in the middle of the Simpson Desert; its their problem.
However, if you have a mechanical failure, or you get bogged, or for some reason you need to have your vehicle recovered your insurance company has no requirement to help you out. Club 4×4 have dedicated a portion of their premiums to covering off road recovery even when your vehicle has not been involved in an accident.
This is a game changer; you break down in the middle of the desert, and Club 4×4 will pay to have your vehicle recovered! The nominal coverage is $1500 and you can increase that all the way up to $30,000 for the year.

Portable valuables and touring gear coverage of 2k-10k

If you are camping, and someone steals your camping gear, fishing rods and dive gear, Club 4×4 will cover it. This means you can leave camp knowing that if some low life does help themselves you won’t have to foot the bill. Obviously, the best practice is prevention, so shut things up, and put anything expensive out of sight or take it with you!
You can adjust the amount based on your situation.
12V Solar farm while camping
If you leave camp and someone steals your gear, are you covered?

Choice of repairer

I’ve seen some absolutely woeful repair jobs done on 4WD’s. With Club 4×4, you have a choice as to who does the repairs.

First option to purchase the vehicle back if written off

Only someone who’s spent hours building and modifying a 4WD can really appreciate the time and effort that goes into it. If your 4WD is written off, you get first choice of buying it back from Club 4×4, regardless of the age of the 4WD. This means if you want to remove the modifications and bolt them onto another vehicle, you have first right to do so.

Cover for fuel contamination

With modern motors becoming more and more sensitive to bad fuel, its imperative that your insurance company covers you for a bad batch of fuel. Considering it can be up to $15,000 worth of repairs for one bad tank of fuel, its worth having coverage for!

12 month subscription to Pat Callinans 4X4 adventures

 There are some pretty average 4WD magazines out there. Pat Callinans 4×4 Adventures is not one of them. With some of the best content and photography in the business, you’ll love a 12 month subscription to their magazine.

Don’t risk your pride and joy with cheap insurance

Its human nature to want the cheapest deal. However, if you honestly think about it, usually the cheapest deal is that for a reason. You wouldn’t buy the cheapest 4WD on the market, or put the cheapest bull bar you can find on your 4WD, so why would you look for the cheapest insurance?
Quality trumps price every time, especially when you are talking about 4WD’s! Club 4×4’s premiums can be more expensive (not in the case of many 4WD’s though), but what they offer is totally different too.

Don’t just take my word for it

Club 4×4 have been building relationships with quality 4WD businesses, groups, clubs and the media for a few years now. They have pages upon pages of testimonials, which you can read on their website. On top of that, they cover some impressive vehicles, like the Patriot Megatourer, Maxtrax 6×6 200 series Land Cruiser, the vehicles on the Offroad Adventure show, Pat Callinans Amarok fleet and some truly unique 4WD builds.
If you aren’t already with Club 4×4, have a think about your insurance, ring them up and ask them some questions. If you aren’t happy with their answers, give Club 4×4 a call, or get a quote online at

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  1. You are most welcome. Great to hear – the Prado is a fantastic 4WD.

    Enjoy yourself!

  2. David Harper says:

    Thanks Aaron, that was super helpful. I have a brand new Prado (proud owner of my first new car at age 60+) and pumped re trip! Think I will opt for the 1500 basic cover.

    That said, I can see recovery can be expensive given your Steep Point experience.

  3. Hi David,

    Insurance is pretty personal, and it would depend on what sort of risks you have as to whether it is worth it. If you have a newer vehicle that has been proven and you are staying around other travellers your risk is much less than if you had an older vehicle that had some gremlins, or character shall we say. I didn’t have the cover when my 80 series broke down on the way back from Steep Point, and it cost me around $600 to be towed back to Denham.

    However, I just have the normal $1500 cover on the new Dmax – I figure chances of having issues are low enough for the risk to be worth it. Only time will tell if I am right though.

    Most of the places you mention are fairly well travelled, with perhaps the Mitchell Plateau being the most ‘remote’ and costly to recover from.

    Not sure if my ramblings are of any help, but I guess in the end you have to weigh up your risks and see whether its worth it or not.

    Best of luck mate.


  4. David Harper says:

    I am thinking of insuring with club4x4 before reading this article, and I am now convinced this is the right move. BIG QUESTION: How do you determine how much “offroad recovery” to insure for? I am planning a trip from Perth to Darwin, including Kennedy Range, Karrinjini, Millstream NP, Gibb River Road, Mitchell Plateau .. and I wonder of the basic $1500 recovery is enough cover. I suspect I might need more – well, just in case. Opinion, especially based on fact, very welcomed.

  5. Hey Geoff,

    Sorry to hear that mate. Never had an issue there myself. Give them a call – 1800 258 249


  6. geoff allanson says:

    I have tried to get a quote on line several times but the site is always down, even to retrieve a quote was not possible

  7. James Thomas says:

    A very neat article. Yes, 4×4 owner should buy insurance for their ride as no one knows when actually they need to claim the damage. It is equal to getting the fuel for the vehicle.