Rural Britain is criss-crossed by unsurfaced roads and tracks. Many 4x4 owenrs enjoy using them for adventure driving
Also known as SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicle), 4x4s are cars which have four-wheel drive. This means a drivetrain in which both axles can turn all four wheels at the same time - additional mechanisms which make your 4x4 better for off-road driving, but also heavier, more complex and more expensive to repair.
4x4s also tend to have similar designs, usually featuring a heavier and boxier chassis, as well as higher ground clearance and a larger volume of inside space than ordinary cars. Some 4x4s allow you to switch between four-wheel and two-wheel drive modes, while there are also modern models which bill themselves as SUVs with all the stylings, but which do not have 4WD at all.
Not only are 4x4s generally more expensive to fuel, insurance premiums are usually higher than for ordinary cars. That's because insurers calculate various factors which make them riskier, including the following:
They are often used off-road, which has a greater chance of an accident
They're built to higher specifications, so replacement parts tend to cost more
They're much more attractive to thieves and vandals
They’re larger and heavier, and will do more damage to other vehicles, pedestrians or property in an accident
Luckily it is still very much possible to find a cheap deal for 4x4 insurance. Read on to find out how you can help keep your premiums low for the protection you need.
Paying insurance in monthly instalments is always more expensive as it amounts to paying interest. It’s cheaper overall if you can afford to buy insurance in one yearly lump sum
Your premiums should fall if you use car security features like an alarm or an immobiliser, and if park your car in a garage or driveway rather than on the street
Significant discounts are available to drivers who agree to an annual mileage limit. You do have to stick to this to avoid a significant surcharge on your premiums, however
Increasing your voluntary excess is a sure-fire route to lower premiums, but you should always make sure you can afford to pay this excess if you do need to make a claim
A young person could add a named driver to their policy, to bring down costs – but the main driver must always be stipulated on the policy, otherwise it’s insurance fraud
Because they’re bigger and more expensive, 4x4s by their very nature cost more to insure. Though they are less likely to take damage in an accident, there’s an increased chance your 4x4 could damage smaller cars that are involved.That said, there’s plenty of ways for you to cut your premiums and stay on the road in your 4x4.Shopping around is a quick and easy way to find a good deal on your car insurance – just tell us a bit about yourself and the car you want to cover, and we’ll do all the hard work."
Specialist insurance is available for classic cars, and classic 4x4s are no exception. Find out more with our guide to insuring classic cars.
Younger drivers tend not to be offered the cheaper car insurance deals, because they’re at more risk of making claims. Find out more about saving money on your car insurance as a young driver.
You might also find telematics insurance useful. This sees your insurer monitoring your driving performance either by installing a device in your car or on your phone, to measure how carefully you drive. Certain drivers can see their premiums fall this way.
You can use your 4x4 for towing caravans and trailers, but if that’s what you’re going to be doing, be sure to inform your insurer beforehand.
Many 4x4 owners who use their cars for off-roading end up modifying them, with anything from improved suspension to roll cages. You can get insurance for these, but modifying your car tends to increase your premiums.
Green-laning is different to driving off the road. Green-laning is means driving on unsurfaced lanes, tracks or trails that are open to motor vehicles. They are officially classified at BOATs (Byways Open To All Traffic or UCRs (Unclassified Country Roads).
Off-roading, meanwhile, literally means driving when you’re not on a road.
Strictly speaking, you never need to buy fully comprehensive insurance at all. As long as you have third party insurance, you’re legally allowed to drive on UK roads. However, fully comprehensive has two major advantages: firstly it covers you for many more situations than third-party insurance, and secondly it is almost always the much cheaper option.
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