How do I insure my 4×4?

Whether your 4×4 sees little more action than a Sainsbury’s car park, or you regularly tear down every green lane in the UK, you’ll need to insure your 4×4 properly. It doesn’t matter if you …

How To Insure Your 4x4

Whether your 4×4 sees little more action than a Sainsbury’s car park, or you regularly tear down every green lane in the UK, you’ll need to insure your 4×4 properly.

It doesn’t matter if you drive a Landrover Defender or an ex-military tank, if you own a 4×4, you’re unlikely to find the best deals (or even find your four wheel drive listed!) on a standard insurance comparison website.

The best thing you can do is find an insurance broker who understands 4×4 cars, realises that modifications, from snorkels to tow bars, are par for the course, and can compare 4×4 insurance policies on your behalf, to find the best one for you.

In this article, we’re going to explore how to insure your 4×4 car, what 4×4 insurance covers and how to get the cheapest and most effective 4×4 insurance.

How do I insure my 4×4?

To insure your 4×4 properly, you need to find an insurer who specialises in cars with four wheel drive and can help you tailor a policy that’s right for your car, whether that includes off-roading, limited mileage, or cover for modifications and high-grade parts replacements.

As 4x4s can do more damage than standard cars if they get in an accident, ordinary car insurers may not be able to offer appropriate cover, which is why it’s important to find an insurer who can give you the best protection for a fair price.

Let’s dive right in, and look in more detail at how to insure your 4×4 car.

How to organise 4×4 car insurance

The best way to organise 4×4 car insurance is to find a broker who has expert knowledge of specialist insurance, as well as established relationships with 4×4 insurers, and can tailor the best policy for your situation.

Simply using websites to compare policies is unlikely to give you the best range of options, especially as your 4×4 may need specialist insurance, depending on what you use it for.

Once you find an insurance company who can handle cars with four-wheel drive and all their potential modifications, you’ll need to organise insurance based on what you use your 4×4 for.

What does 4×4 car insurance cover?

Third party, fire and theft

Third party, fire and theft insurance will cover damage to another person and their car and property if you’re involved in an accident, as well as covering you in case your car is stolen, damaged or destroyed through fire. It’s not the same as fully comprehensive cover, which 4×4 car insurance companies will also offer. As well as offering third party cover, fully comprehensive car insurance will cover you for damage to your own car and injuries to yourself, even if the accident was your fault.

Off-roading

One of the joys of 4x4s is that they can take you on all kinds of adventures, not just off the beaten path, but on surfaces that don’t remotely resemble paths at all.

This type of driving is known as ‘off roading’, and describes driving on any form of unpaved surface, whether that’s riverbeds, bogs and sand dunes, or mountains, deserts and gravel and boulder-strewn areas.

Due to the added dangers of driving on these surfaces, you’ll need 4×4 insurance which is specifically designed to cover you for off-roading.

If you want to take part in off-road racing you’ll need special off-road racing insurance. As fun as it is tearing across uneven landscapes faster than any other 4×4, this puts you at greater risk of damaging your own or other people’s vehicles. Having the right off roading insurance means that you’re financially covered for the cost of car repairs or replacements.

Green-laning

Green-laning is the perfect opportunity to veer your 4×4 down some of the UK’s most mysterious and overgrown pathways.

While green lane driving involves driving on unsurfaced lanes and tracks, green lanes which allow all types of traffic to pass through are still public highways, classified as BOATs (Byways Open to All Traffic).

Even though green laning, unlike off-roading, involves driving on what are still official roads in the UK, the tracks are often very overgrown and branch off deep into the countryside. If you’re planning on driving on green lanes it’s very important to get specialist insurance, so you’re covered for any accidents or damage.

Imported 4x4s

If your 4×4 is imported, you’ll need to find an insurer who can handle imported cars and any cover you may need for, for example, left hand drives, grey imports (these are cars which have been imported legally, but not sold and distributed officially by a manufacturer) and Q-plated 4x4s (where the origin and identity of the car is uncertain).

4×4 modifications

4×4 cars frequently come with off-roading modifications, whether they were added by you, the manufacturer or – in the case of a second hand car – the person who owned it before you. Even something as nondescript as a towbar can be seen as a modification by some insurers, which can affect your premiums.

If you’re buying a secondhand car with four wheel drive, it’s a good idea to get your car checked for any modifications you aren’t aware of. Common off-roading modifications for 4x4s may include:

  • Snorkels. Snorkels allow your car to take in cleaner and cooler air, and protect your car engine from water if you’re crossing rivers or tides in your 4×4.
  • Roll bars. Roll bars work with automobile suspensions to help reduce the body roll of your car during fast turning or over uneven roads. Roll bars can affect your insurance because if you’re planning on having to control your car over fast cornering, you’re more likely to be driving your car in tougher road conditions.
  • Rock sliders. Rock sliders are fixed to the chassis of your 4×4 and work to protect its doors from damage when you’re driving over rocks and boulders. Obviously, if you’re planning on veering your 4×4 over some serious stones, it increases your chance of an accident, hence why rock sliders may affect your insurance.

Other modifications which can affect premiums include winches, lightning rigs, chain tyres and LPG conversion engines. Car insurers who specialise in 4×4 insurance won’t be fazed at all by modifications, so enlist the help of a broker to find insurance policies that can serve you and your car, no matter how many alterations it has.

Military vehicles

Many military or ex-military vehicles are 4x4s, which makes sense given that many have had to cross treacherous terrain, from snow to desert wastelands, while transporting military forces.

If you own a military vehicle, you’ll need a specialist insurer who understands how these vehicles work and isn’t fazed by unfamiliar part replacements or uncertain origins,

You’ll also want to find an insurer who understands the passion that owners and collectors have for their military vehicles, and the importance of finding insurance that safeguards the appearance and authenticity of their pride and joy.

If you own a military vehicle, you’re likely to need special insurance for a number of reasons. For example, if its history, age or identity is unknown, you’ll need Q plate insurance. Q plate insurance can insure your vehicle even if it’s a military vehicle from another country, where its manufacturer and even identity is unknown.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re covered for the cost of special replacement parts if your military vehicle gets in an accident. Insurers who are used to dealing with non-standard vehicles can help you source them without too much fuss. After all, you’re unlikely to find an insurer who can cover a new KAMAZ diesel engine for your Amphibious Armoured Vehicle just by entering your details in a website and having it spit out insurance quotes.

Towing

Whether you regularly tow a 3500 kg camper van down to Cornwall every summer, or you use your 4×4 car’s towing capabilities, you’ll likely need insurance policies which cover towing. As we mentioned above, some insurers count a tow bar as a car modification, whether you use it or not.

If you’re a driver with a license issued on or after 1 January 1997, you can:

  • Drive a car or van up to 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM), which is the absolute limit a car can safely tow.

If you’re a driver with a license issued on or after 1 January 1997:

  • You can drive a car or van of up to 3,500kg MAM while towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM, with a combined weight of 4,250kg.
  • You can tow a trailer of over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle doesn’t exceed 3,500kg.

Kit car insurance

If your 4×4 is a kit car, meaning that it hasn’t been put together by a manufacturer and you’ve assembled (or are assembling) it yourself, you’ll need specialist insurance which covers you for certain risks.

As well as insuring you against the usual risks such as damage, fire and theft, kit car insurance can offer you build up cover, which means your 4×4 is covered by insurance before you have fully built it. Your project will probably spend a lot of time in your garage or shed in an unfinished state, which leaves it vulnerable to theft and having its parts stripped, not to mention the risk of accidental damage and fire. Build up cover means that you can claim back the cost of parts that are stolen or damaged before your 4×4 is fully assembled.

You can also get salvage retention as part of kit car insurance. If your 4×4 was ever written off in an accident and you wanted to keep the wreckage to either build a new car or restore your car to a roadworthy condition, salvage retention cover would give you the value of your 4×4, minus the amount the insurer would have got selling it at a scrap yard. You can then use the parts of the salvage for another project if you wish.

Kit car insurance can also include laid up cover to protect your 4×4 if you SORN it for part of the year, or exhibition cover if you regularly display your pride and joy at shows.

Cover abroad

If you’re taking your 4×4 abroad, whether you’re touring the rugged terrain of the Andes or taking a road trip to Rome, you’ll need to find 4×4 insurance which covers you in the country you want to visit.

Although the UK has left the EU, every UK car insurance policy still provides the basic level of third-party cover that you need to legally drive in the EU (including Ireland), and you’ll also have minimum third party cover in Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland.

However, third party cover just means that you are covered for the costs of damage to other cars and drivers and / or passengers. Even if you have fully comprehensive insurance for your 4×4 in the UK, this may not apply abroad, so make sure you check with your insurer whether you will be covered in the country you’re travelling to.

If you’re taking your 4×4 anywhere outside the UK, you’ll need to carry a ‘green card’ to prove you have the basic insurance cover you need to legally drive in a particular country.

You’ll need to contact your insurer to get a green card for your 4×4. You’ll need to carry extra green cards if you’re towing a trailer or caravan abroad, and if you have more than one insurance policy covering you while you drive abroad (you’ll need one card per policy).

Do I need car insurance if I only use my 4×4 occasionally?

You need car insurance for your 4×4 at all times, unless it is SORN (has a Statutory Off-Road Notification). It doesn’t matter if your 4×4 sees more of your garage than the open road, if it’s still registered as on the road, you have a legal requirement to pay insurance and road tax on it.

If you only use your 4×4 occasionally, you can get a limited mileage policy from your insurer, which can reduce your premiums. You can also insure your 4×4 on a multi-car policy, putting it down as your second car, which can help reduce your car insurance. Let’s look in more detail at how you can get the cheapest insurance for your 4×4.

9 steps to get cheaper 4×4 insurance

4x4s are thrilling rides, whether you just want some extra oomph on the motorway, or you’re ready for a full trek through the badlands. However, because of their size and weight, and the fact that they can come with more expensive parts (attractive to thieves), they can cost a little more to insure. Let’s look at 9 steps to reduce the cost of your 4×4 insurance.

Pick a 4×4 in a lower insurance group

Insurers in the UK place cars in insurance groups from 1-50, 1 being the cheapest group of cars to insure and 50 being the most expensive. Although many 4x4s will fall into the higher car insurance groups, you can still find several models which fall in lower groups, helping you decrease the costs on your car insurance.

For example, if you’re looking for a 4×4 to ferry your family around and you don’t necessarily need a car with a huge engine, you could go for something like the SsangYong Tivoli 1.6 SE or the Nissan Juke. Both are SUVs in insurance groups that generally range from 8-23.

However, the car insurance group your 4×4 falls into depends on the insurance company you choose, so make sure you check with your insurer which group a car falls into before you rush out and buy a particular 4×4.

Ramp up your security measures

Keeping your 4×4 parked securely, especially somewhere like a locked garage, can help reduce your premiums, as your car is at less risk or theft and damage.

It’s also a good idea to enhance the security features on your car, especially because 4x4s are more lucrative to thieves. Make sure your 4×4 has Thatcham approved alarms, immobilisers and tracking systems (Thatcham is an independent institution that rates car security). A Thatcham category 1 alarm, which is a combined immobiliser and alarm, is considered the gold standard of car safety, so check if your car was built with one.

If your car doesn’t automatically come with an immobiliser to protect against hot-wiring (if was made before 1998, it may not have one installed), it’s a good idea to have one installed. You should also make sure you have an electronic, Thatcham approved alarm, if you’re installing a Thatcham category 2 immobiliser, which doesn’t come with an alarm. Some of the newer models such Land Rover and Ranger Rover are particularly prone to keyless theft.

Limited mileage

If you don’t drive your 4×4 more than a few thousand miles a year, make sure you let your insurance company know.

The less you drive, the less risks you face through accidents, so your insurer may be able to offer you a cheaper insurance deal, as you’re less likely to cost them money through claims.

Join an owners club

The UK is filled with proud 4×4 owners, who love their cars just as much as you do.

Joining a 4×4 owners club, whether that’s a specialist club for drivers of particular 4×4 models such as Landrover, Jeep or Suzuki or an organisation for owners of all 4×4 makes, could help you save a significant amount on insurance.

Insurers will often view your 4×4 owners club membership as a sign that you take pride in your car, and will be more likely to drive it safely. You can sometimes get up to 25% off your cover with some insurance companies, for belonging to an owners club.

Not only this, but sharing your passion with other 4×4 and off-road enthusiasts is a joy in itself. Often these groups aren’t just clubs but close-knit communities, always ready to help new 4×4 drivers, from advice to a friendly tow out if you get stuck while off-roading.

Increase your excess

An excess in car insurance is the amount you agree to pay towards the claim costs. You’ll already have a compulsory excess, which is a mandatory amount you have to pay if you make a claim, and an ‘excess’ is any amount you offer to pay on top of your compulsory excess.

Offering more in excess for your 4×4 can reduce your premiums, because you’re promising to pay more if you do get in an accident. However, you have to make sure you can afford what you promise to pay if you do have to make a claim.

Advanced driving qualifications

Certain advanced driving qualifications may reduce the cost of your premiums. If you’re a younger driver (under 25), it’s worth considering a PassPlus or Any Driver BTEC course, especially if you’re hoping to get insured to drive a 4×4.

If you’re a more experienced driver, advanced driving courses from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) or RoSPA could help you to get slightly cheaper insurance for your 4×4.

However, all insurance companies have different policies, make sure you check with particular insurers whether they recognise these driving qualifications, and whether they can help you save money on your premiums.

It’s important to note that the courses can save you money in other ways than just reducing premiums. If you’re driving a 4×4 off road your risk of accident is inevitably higher than if you were just cruising leisurely around your neighbourhood, and an advanced knowledge of driving and safety can help reduce the risk of damage. No claims means cheaper insurance in the long run, as well as less repairs to pay for.

Multi car policy

If you drive more than one car, you can insure them all (including your 4×4) on one policy, which can help you reduce your 4×4 insurance costs.

Look for an insurance broker who can help you tailor a policy where you get the cover you need, while getting a discount for every extra car on your insurance.

As you may need different levels of cover for your 4×4 than you do for other cars in your household, you can also opt for a linked policy. This is when each of your cars has its own policy (with relevant add ons, for example, green lane driving cover for your range rover), but they are all linked under your name.

Special 4×4 insurance schemes

As the owner of a particular 4×4 car model, for example, a Jeep, Land Rover or Range Rover, you may be able to save money through special schemes designed for these makes.

For example, some insurers specialise in providing cover for certain 4×4 brands, and will offer perks like free agreed valuation.

Named driver insurance

If you’re a younger and / or less experienced driver, it will be harder to find cheap 4×4 insurance, especially as 4×4 cars are already more expensive to insure.

Named driver insurance can help reduce costs for younger 4×4 drivers, as adding someone else to their policy – particularly an experienced and older driver – lessens their risk of making a claim in the eyes of the insurer. Young drivers can either:

  • Add a more experienced driver to their policy, for example, a parent or guardian.
  • Get added to their parent or guardian’s policy, which is often cheaper than taking out their own.

If you’re a younger and less experienced driver, make sure you never put down a more experienced driver as the main driver on a policy, when you’re actually going to be doing most of the driving. This is called ‘fronting’ and is a form of insurance fraud.

Now that we’ve gone through how to insure your 4×4, we hope you’ve found this a helpful read. Although your insurance may cost a bit more, there are several ways to reduce it, so you can go back to powering through the undergrowth in your 4×4.