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What is 4x4 insurance?

While there is no specific product called 4×4 insurance in Australia, you may find some insurance specialists offer car insurance that suits your four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles.

Car insurance can cover your 4WD for things like damage to other vehicles and property, fire damage, theft, and potentially damage inflicted while you’re four-wheel driving off-road.

This type of coverage will differ between providers and is generally only offered for vehicles that are purpose-built for off-roading. It’s important to read your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or contact your insurer to make sure you’re covered for off-road four-wheel driving.

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Frequently asked questions

Do I need cover for my 4x4 vehicle?

All cars need some level of insurance, and your 4×4 is no different. The questions you should ask are what type of car insurance does your 4×4 need and what do 4WD insurance options cover?

If you use your 4WD for taking the kids to school and weekend sports, and you don’t intend to take it for an off-road adventure, then a standard policy without all the bells and whistles (such as extra cover for modifications) should be enough to cover your car adequately.

However, if you do take your 4×4 off-road, you may find that your provider won’t cover you when travelling on non-gazetted (unmarked on a map) roads. Also, car insurance doesn’t cover mechanical failure – just the items listed on the policy. This can be an issue as off-road driving in your 4WD could lead to mechanical failure.

It’s not all bad news, though. There are insurance policies in the market that cover listed events (such as storm damage, fire, theft and third-party property damage) that happen when off-roading. These policies may include cover for:

  • both on- and off-road driving
  • modifications to the vehicle, as well as accessories
  • off-road recovery expenses.

Be aware that cover for these sorts of 4×4-related benefits differ between providers. Some might offer off-road recovery cover in a roadside assistance policy that’s an additional add-on or separate standalone policy. If this is the coverage you need, make sure you read the policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before purchasing to ensure you understand how your vehicle is covered.

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What should I look for when purchasing insurance for my 4x4?

If you intend to take your 4×4 off-road, some things you should look for when purchasing insurance for 4×4 vehicles include:

  • whether you’re covered for off-road driving. Since some providers may not cover driving on non-gazetted roads, this is a crucial point to check if you do want to go bush or beach driving at some point. Other insurers might not cover driving in a dedicated off-road adventure park. You may find that some policies won’t cover off-road activities while some do, so always be sure to read your PDS;
  • cover for modifications and accessories. Souping your 4WD up can cost a lot of money, so you’ll want to make sure that all these modifications and accessories (e.g. LED headlights, roof racks, bull bars) are also covered; and
  • off-road recovery costs. The cost of an off-road recovery can far exceed that of an on-road, especially if you really are in the middle of nowhere. Making sure you have a policy that covers the cost of such an event could save you a lot of trouble, worry and cash, but this type of coverage is rare. Most policies specify that the assistance or recovery team must be able to reach you with a two-wheel vehicle, which greatly limits where your vehicle can be recovered from.

If you are looking at comparing 4WD insurance options, you should always read the PDS as it outlines exactly what you are and aren’t covered for.

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How much does insurance for 4x4 vehicles cost?

Providers determine the cost of your car insurance using a whole range of factors. Some factors that will influence the cost of insurance for your 4WD include:

  • the model, age and colour of the car
  • the market value of your vehicle (some insurers also offer an agreed value option)
  • any modifications (lift kits, diff guards, etc.)
  • your claims history
  • the car’s parking location
  • the level of car insurance you purchase (with comprehensive car insurance being the highest level of cover).

If you’d like to know how much it may cost to insure your vehicle, you can use our car insurance comparison service to get a quote.

Do 4x4 insurance options offer optional extras?

If you’re covering your 4×4 with car insurance, providers may offer optional extras on policies. These may vary across the car insurance industry, but some common optional extras include:

  • no excess on windscreen claims. By paying a higher premium, you may not need to pay anything at all on windscreen claims;
  • hire vehicle cover. If you need to hire a replacement vehicle because yours is damaged, your provider may cover the hire fee;
  • roadside assistance and emergency repairs. However, this may be available on sealed roads only; and
  • additional off-road recovery expenses. This might include a benefit to cover emergency repairs to help get your car going again so you can reach a mechanic.

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How do I cover my 4x4 with insurance?

If you’re looking for 4×4 insurance, you can purchase a car insurance policy that covers your 4×4 from most car insurance providers. However, if you’re taking your 4WD off-road, you’ll need to make sure the insurance option you choose covers you for off-road four-wheel driving.

Comparing your options is a great way to potentially find a better deal on car insurance. By comparing your options with our service, you can easily view the features and prices of a range of policies. Our service is also fast and completely free to use!

Is comprehensive car insurance right for my 4x4?

The right level of cover for your off-road vehicle will depend on how you use the car and what you’re looking for from a car insurance policy. The key difference between comprehensive car insurance and other levels of cover is that comprehensive typically covers damage to your vehicle from collisions, while other policies only cover damage you cause to others in an accident.

Comprehensive car insurance may provide access to optional extras like a hire car while your vehicle is being repaired. However, it’s crucial to check each policy to see what specific off-road activities are covered, as this level of car insurance might not be the right one for you.

When reviewing your insurance options through Compare the Market, you’ll be able to view the Product Disclosure Statement PDS for details on what your car insurance policy includes.

What's excluded from car insurance for 4x4's?

Car insurance may have several exclusions that could affect your 4WD vehicle. Exclusions can vary but typically include:

  • participating in races or official competitions (casual recreational drives with friends are fine)
  • driving where there is no road or officially gazetted road
  • reckless behaviour and illegal actions
  • mechanical failures (regardless of whether it was caused by off-road driving)
  • undisclosed car mods (you may be able to get coverage if you disclose the modifications to your insurer)

Does 4x4 vehicle insurance cover camper trailers?

A car insurance policy for your 4WD probably won’t cover your camper trailer or caravan, though a few insurance providers do offer a bit of coverage for trailers. Some insurers offer specialised insurance products for camper trailers and caravans (often called caravan insurance) to cover related damages and financial loss.

Stephen Zeller, General Manager

4×4 Car insurance tips from our expert, Stephen Zeller

  1. When planning a trip in your four-wheeler, check that your insurance covers events that occur in the type of terrain you plan on driving in. This is especially the case for adventure parks which insurers typically don’t cover.
  2. Four-by-fours are a great platform for modification if you want to get more off-road capability from your vehicle. Many 4WD modifications can get quite pricey, so check the coverage limits for accessories like roof racks, spotlights, bull bar, tow bar, winches, radios etc to see the maximum amount you’ll get back in a claim.
  3. Recovering a broken-down vehicle that’s off-road or in the middle of nowhere can be quite expensive – particularly if you’ve gotten stuck on an island. Have a recovery plan in place, travel with friends and don’t forget your recovery kit in case things go wrong.

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