| BUYERS GUIDE
4WD INSURANCE ISSUES
Make sure your vehicle and accessories are really insured. - updated December 2016
It’s all very well loading your vehicle up with accessories, but it’s not so easy getting their value correctly assessed and insured. Only two companies we found stand out from the crowd.
We spent two days on the phone and on the Internet seeking insurance for our much-modified 1993 LandCruiser 75 Series. We rang every major vehicle insurer and several brokers who advertised their abilities to obtain specialised insurance. We also rang the companies that specialise in 4WD insurance.
Buying insurance on the internet is time consuming and invasive, because on the sites we visited you can’t get a quote without filling in your personal details first.
Buying insurance over the phone is also time-consuming, because you spend long minutes listening to lies like: “Your call is important to us”. If it's that bloody important, why don’t they put on more telephone staff to make sure customers don’t have to hang on for ages?
Only two companies we spoke to sang a different tune: Club 4x4 and Shannons. Unfortunately, Shannons won't insure company-owned vehicles, so we couldn't progress any further with them. However, if your machine is privately-owned, no problem.
On paper, the original deal from Club 4x4 looked good. This specialised company had a similar agreed value for the unmodified 75 Series, but had cover for all our accessories - including the labour to fit them.
The company's stated aim is to make sure that customers finish up after a claim with the equivalent level of vehicle and accessories they had before the accident or theft.
The insured value was just under $40,000, which is what it would cost us to replace the vehicle and all its attached kit.
Club 4x4's original premium was $817. The downside was a premium that escalated dramatically one year later, up to $1017.
4WD owners need more
The problem with modified 4WDs is that all but two of the insurance companies we spoke to didn’t have what they call ‘products’ to cover the situation fully. There are plain policies for 4WDs at agreed or market value and departing from that process seems too hard for all but two of the dozens of insurers we spoke to.
Some companies won't even cover 4WDs for off-road travel!
What’s the problem here? We don’t have any trouble insuring all the gear we cart around with us when we’re doing bush stories: the computers, cameras, camping gear, tools, fridge and portable winch are all covered for loss or theft, but, apparently, items that are bolted to the vehicle can’t be so easily covered. Why not?
We spoke to the Insurance Council of Australia, who could do little more than put us in touch with some specialised brokers and they couldn’t help either.
If Outback Travel Australia site visitors have had more success in securing an even better than we have, we’d love to hear about it! In the meantime, we'd suggest you save yourselves some time and go to Club 4x4 or to Shannons.
Before you renew...
Before you renew an insurance policy, here are five critical steps you need to make.
Has the coverage changed? During the course of the year insurers make adjustments and ideally, you will be notified of that via a Supplementary Product Disclosure Statement (SPDS) - a document designed to supplement the main PDS and clarify the changes that have been made. You should look through and compare PDS’ and other policy documents when choosing who to renew your insurance with in much the same way you would when you’re first signing up with an insurer.
Has your vehicle changed? Most 4WDs are 'works in progress' and are likely to have ebeen given some upgrades in the past 12 months, so it's important to increase agreed values to the maximum.
What about your other coverage needs? When you’re looking at your Certificate Of Insurance, check for specific endorsements. Endorsements such as driver age exclusions, noted drivers (relevant if you have “named driver” coverage) and any other exclusions or special conditions can make a significant difference to your premium and coverage, so make sure everything is up to date. Having an under-35-year-old driver exclusion on your policy can produce a very rude shock if your visiting nephew happens to drive the rig and damage it.
Driving Infringements? Although every insurer is different, many do ask about your driving and claims history. If you’ve had any changes, it’s your responsibility
under the Duty Of Disclosure to let your insurer know. If the question is asked when you’re buying a policy, it’s what is known as one of the underwriting
criteria. These criteria not only affect your premium, but also whether an insurer chooses to offer you coverage at all. If they wouldn’t offer you
coverage based on your information when quoting, you can be sure that any claim you make will be declined if the information is uncovered at that stage.
Keeping this information up to date is critical.
Price? The premium really should be considered only after all the above issues have been settled satisfactorily. It's much more important to have your pride and joy fully covered than to save a few bucks on the premium.
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