4x4 insurance is not an exciting subject but . . .
It’s one that none of us can avoid. Once a year it rears its ugly head. Some people stick with the same broker year-after-year. They are the fortunate ones. Most people do the merry dance each time, trying to find the best cover possible for their 4×4 insurance.
People with everyday runabout vehicles can just type the details into a price-checker website and get instant quotes from dozens of brokers. But try entering the details of a Series IIa that’s had a Tdi dropped into it after fitting larger tyres and you’ll see that the system doesn’t cater for people who like cars a little bit out of the ordinary.
Fortunately there are a number of specialist brokers who DO understand that we choose to drive cars that are a bit ‘different’. There a few companies who understand the difference between a Defender 110 and a Series II, and the fact that almost every single Land Rover that has ever left the factory has been modified in some way. Normal brokers will just fall over in a blind panic with the list of ‘modifications’ on most vehicles, whereas the specialists just take it in their stride.
Even when dealing with the specialists there are a few things worth bearing in mind that can help your case for the defence. The whole system is based on risk and computers are in charge, which gives us the opportunity to exploit the risk-based profiling that the computers use to calculate your premiums.
There are the obvious things, like don’t run up a tally of motoring offences and don’t be claiming every few days for minor scrapes. But there are other things you can do.
1. Put someone else on the policy. Anyone!
They don’t need to be older or more experienced. A car shared between two people is considered a lesser risk. Especially if the other person is in a less risky profession.
2. Call it a camper
Motorhomes and campers are less of a risk than ‘normal’ cars, so if you have a heavily-modified vehicle built for overlanding or an ex-ambulance converted to a camper, tell the insurers about it. There are some restrictions on how to get the
vehicle officially considered a camper but if you’ve fitted cooking equipment and can sleep in it then it’s worth a try.
3. Classics rule
Classic vehicles are always less risky as the brokers think we’ll cherish them more. You might be restricted to a set annual mileage but even vehicles just 10 or 15 years old can be considered classics.
4. Park in the street
Yes, this one really goes against perceived knowledge but some areas have more car thefts from driveways and garages than from the street. If you live in one of those areas then park in the street.
5. Check the deals
Many insurance companies will offer inducements to new customers. It is worth phoning around to ask, they don’t always advertise it! But be aware that the inducement is only for the first year, the following year you’ll be back on the normal rate.
6. Keep schtum!
Unless you intend to claim, DO NOT tell the insurance company about an incident, whether it is a theft or damage. Even if you do not claim, it will be recorded on your file and could affect future premiums.
The British are notoriously bad at haggling but it could save you hundreds. Haggle with them. Tell them you’ve got a better quote, even put the phone down. They’ll often call you back with a better premium.
8. One chunk
Don’t be tempted by instalments. You will pay dearly for the benefit of paying monthly. Some brokers will not offer their best policies to people who want to pay monthly (again you’re considered more of a risk), plus you’ll pay interest to spread the load.
9. Work it
Be precise about your job, many professions are weighted more heavily than others. A student nurse, for instance, might pay 10% more than a practice nurse. Look at the website moneysavingexpert.com to find out how your profession is rated.
10. Go fully comp
An interesting statistic in recent years is that some people are being quoted better premiums for fully comprehensive cover than third party only. This is because younger drivers normally choose third party – sometimes it’s all they can get – and the premiums have been driven up accordingly.
One last thing: Do not ever think of telling porkies! Don’t hide anything and don’t give deliberately incorrect information. If you need to claim on the policy you could find that you are suddenly uninsured.
I need to drive my car to the garage but I haven’t got insurance. Can I do this?
As of 2011 all cars in the UK that don’t have a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) will require valid insurance. So unless you are insured your only option would be to trailer your vehicle to the garage.
I have a 1986 Land Rover. Can I have an Agreed Value?
Depending on the insurer’s acceptance criteria, vehicle type and age, you may be able to request an Agreed Value on your Land Rover.
My 4×4 isn’t my main vehicle and I only drive it a few times a year. Are there any discounts I can get?
A specialist insurance company can arrange a policy that offers you a limited mileage; the lower your annual mileage the lower your premium is could be. Also, having access to additional vehicle(s) could also help to reduce your premium on a limited mileage policy.
My vehicle has modifications including a winch, lift, bigger wheels, snorkel, roll cage and chequer plating. How will this affect my insurance policy?
Insurers have different rules for modifications. Some will not charge for cosmetic modifications, while others may charge depending on the type of modification, and some will not cover any modifications. Make sure you do declare all modifications to your insurer to ensure your vehicle is fully covered and the correct premium can be calculated. If your vehicle has been modified a broker may be able to arrange the most appropriate policy with a specialist 4×4 insurer.
I am a member of an enthusiast club. Will this affect my insurance policy?
Being an enthusiast and member of a club can result in discounts on the cost of your policy. How much depends on the insurer and the specialist policy, which a broker can assist you in arranging.
I am an enthusiast and would like to start green laning. Can I get a policy that covers me for this?
Specialist 4×4 insurers should be able to cover you for green laning and it should be included in the policy as it is driving on Public Access Routes and Byways. If you are off-roading this is something you would have to request cover for as it is not normally included in a standard policy.