4WD MODIFICATIONS - GENERAL MODS
It’s all very well loading your vehicle up with accessories, but it’s not so easy getting their value correctly assessed and insured. One company we found stands 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 Net 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?
When we did get through to nearly all the various insurance ‘consultants’ the story was pretty much the same: we can insure your vehicle, but the accessories can’t be valued at more than around 10 percent on top of the agreed value of the vehicle.
One company that supposedly specialises in 4WD insurance gave us the lowest market value rating for the 75 Series, wouldn’t cover the accessories and had the dearest quote! So much for specialisation.
Only three companies we spoke to sang a different tune: Club 4×4, NRMA Insurance 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.
NRMA insurance was happy to insure the ‘Cruiser for an agreed value, with a comprehensive list of the fitted accessories noted on the policy. In the event of a write-off the accessories’ worth would be then assessed.
Their agreed value for an unmodified 1993 ‘Cruiser ute was around $12,000, but the NRMA agreed value for our modified unit was $25,000. That’s not what we wanted, considering the mods are all relatively new – even though the vehicle isn’t – and the modifications and accessories would cost around $28,000 retail to replace, but it was the best deal they could offer.
The upside was that the NRMA premium was only slightly more than that quoted by companies who wouldn’t take any responsibility for covering the accessories.
By far the best deal and the one we accepted when our NRMA policy expired was from Club 4×4.
This specialised company had a similar agreed value for the unmodified 75 Series, but had cover for all our accessores – including the labour to fit them. The insured value is just under $40,000, which is what it would cost us to replace the vehicle and all its attached kit.
Club 4×4’s premium was only slightly higher than NRMA’s, but with vastly better agreed value for accessories. 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.
4WD owners need more
The problem with modified 4WDs is that all but three 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 three 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 appropriate insurance 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 4×4, NRMA Insurance or to Shannons.