What does 4×4 insurance cover?

4×4 technology has been used in cars since the late 19th century. Traditionally 4×4 cars were used as heavy-duty vehicles for farming, transportation, or military purposes. However, over the last few years, 4x4s have moved …

4x4 Driving Off-road

4×4 technology has been used in cars since the late 19th century. Traditionally 4×4 cars were used as heavy-duty vehicles for farming, transportation, or military purposes.

However, over the last few years, 4x4s have moved from being cars that are largely seen in rural and countryside settings to regular fixtures on city roads. These days a 4×4 is just as likely to be used for a school run as they are for extreme off-road driving.

If you are the owner of a 4×4 you may be wondering if your vehicle needs specialist insurance. Or whether your car counts as a 4×4. And what exactly does 4×4 insurance cover?

We are going to answer all this and more as we explore, what does 4×4 insurance cover?

What does 4×4 insurance cover?

Just like regular car insurance, 4×4 car insurance has three levels of cover: third-party; third-party, fire and theft; and fully comprehensive. You can also get additional cover for 4x4s that can insure you for off-road or green-lane driving and towing, and can cover you for conventions, as well as special discounts such as an owner’s club membership or a protected no-claims bonus.

4×4 insurance is generally slightly more expensive than regular car insurance as 4x4s usually cost a bit more, and the optional extras come at an additional cost.

So let’s jump in and find out what vehicles are considered to be 4×4 cars.

What is a 4×4?

4×4, also known as four-wheel drive or 4WD, is a two-axled drivetrain that is able to rotate all four wheels simultaneously. Some 4×4 cars operate 4×4 all the time, while others only use it on-demand.

4×4 technology can also sometimes be used synonymously with the term all-wheel-drive (AWD). AWD, however, can also be used for vehicles with a different number of wheels, such as a 6×6.

Popular 4x4s include the Land Rover Discovery, the Peugeot 5008, Jeep Wrangler, Jaguar F-Pace, and the Ford Kuga, amongst others.

Why choose a 4×4?

4×4 cars have been around for as long as regular cars, and there were even proto-designs for 4×4 technology before the invention of the first car. For a period, 4x4s were used for army vehicles and were also a mainstay of farmers and rural workers.

In recent years 4×4 cars have become popular with regular road users, and you are now just as likely to see them in cities as you are to see them in the countryside.

4×4 cars are great for every type of terrain and are particularly popular as family cars as they offer a lot of space. They are also good for towing units such as caravans or trailers.

Do 4×4 cars need specialist insurance?

4×4 cars can be covered by regular car insurance, providing they are used for regular car purposes and are classed as a car and not a van. If you plan on using your 4×4 for other purposes, such as off-roading or competitions, you may need either specialist insurance or additional cover.

Specialist insurance should offer you extra benefits and optional extras that standard insurers don’t cover. A specialist insurer is also likely to have better knowledge of 4x4s and can, therefore, offer expert advice on what level of cover you will need.

What type of insurance can you get for a 4×4?

As with regular car insurance, standard 4×4 insurance has three levels of cover to choose from:

  • Third-party. Third-party insurance is the legal minimum level of insurance for driving on UK roads. It covers the costs of any damage or injury that you cause to another person, another vehicle, or another person’s property. It doesn’t cover you against the cost of any damages caused to you or your 4×4.
  • Third-party, fire and theft. Third-party, fire and theft insurance includes all of the cover of third-party insurance, and it also covers you if your 4×4 is stolen or damaged by fire.
  • Fully comprehensive cover. Fully comprehensive is the highest level of insurance available and includes all of the cover of the other two options. It also includes cover against any damage caused to either you or your 4×4.

What extras can you get with 4×4 car insurance?

Both specialist and regular insurance for 4×4 cars can also include optional extras that are specific to the requirements of your vehicle. As we mentioned already, specialist insurers are more likely to offer a greater range of extra cover and should be able to offer tailored and expert advice.

Optional extra cover for 4×4 cars can include:

  • Off-road driving. Off-roading or off-road driving is the activity of driving your car on unsurfaced terrains such as sand, mud, snow, etc. Off-roading events can be covered by specialist 4×4 insurance and can include activities such as dune-bashing, off-road racing, cross-country driving, and rock crawling.
  • Towing. If your 4×4 vehicle is used to tow other vehicles, then you will need specialist cover.
  • Green-lane events. Green-lanes are grassy roads that are unsurfaced but are still used for driving on. A green-lane event might include a convention that is held in a field or an organised driving race on a designated green-lane.
  • Owners’ club and car club discounts. 4×4 drivers are often in specialist driving clubs that are exclusively for 4×4 owners and drivers. Specialist insurers might be able to offer discounted insurance rates for members of certain clubs.
  • Cover for ex-military, classic, and modified vehicles. Some 4×4 vehicles have unique designs or modifications that make them particularly valuable. Specialist 4×4 insurance may be able to offer additional cover for issues that are only likely to occur in particular vehicles.
  • Multi-vehicle policies.
  • Protected no claims bonus. If your 4×4 is used for more risky activities than a regular car, it is more likely that you will make a claim. Some specialist 4×4 policies can protect your no claims bonus, which means that any claim you make on your 4×4 will not impact your bonus on any other vehicle insurance that you have.

The best 4×4 insurers will tailor your policy to the specific requirements of both you and your vehicle. You should approach an insurance broker to find the exact cover you need at the best possible price.

Do you need extra cover to drive off-road?

If you want to drive your 4×4 on unsurfaced and unclassified paths and bridleways, you will need off-road or green-lane cover. Even if you only plan to drive your car there on one occasion, your regular car insurance will not cover you, and you will be driving illegally.

You cannot ever drive on terrain where vehicles are strictly prohibited.

What isn’t covered by 4×4 car insurance?

4×4 insurance will not cover your vehicle if it is officially classified as a van.

Some cars, especially family vehicles, are technically classed as light commercial vehicles (LCVs). However, they may appear to be standard 4×4 cars.

A van can’t be covered by regular car insurance, and a regular car can’t be covered by van insurance.

If you are unsure whether your vehicle is a van or a car, check your V5C logbook for clarification.

How much is 4×4 car insurance?

As with all insurance, the total cost of a policy depends upon multiple factors, namely the car model you have and the level of cover you choose.

All cars are placed into insurance groups that are numbered 1 to 50. Cars in group 1 generally have the lowest insurance, while cars in group 50 have the highest.

Modern 4×4 cars are likely to be in the higher insurance groups and, therefore, are generally more expensive to insure than non-four-wheel drive cars.

When it comes to the level of cover, third-party insurance is the cheapest, followed by third-party, fire and theft, and then fully comprehensive cover.

Optional extras will always cost more. Specialist cover may cost more, though it may also have savings such as a protected no-claims bonus or a car club membership discount.

How to save money on your 4×4 car insurance

Although 4×4 car insurance is likely to cost more than regular car insurance, there are still plenty of things that you can do to ensure that your insurance is as affordable as possible. Here we will take a look at some of them.

  • Raise your voluntary excess. All insurance policies come with an excess, which is the amount that you will pay before the insurer will cover you for a claim. For example, if your excess is £200 and your claim is worth £1,000, you will pay £200, and your insurer will pay £800. If you voluntarily raise your excess, your insurance will cost less.
  • Park your 4×4 off the road and fit it with security features. 4×4 are often the target of thieves and vandals as they can look particularly expensive and luxurious. If you park your 4×4 in a garage or a driveway, the risk of vandalisation or theft is reduced, and your premium will likely be lowered too. You may also see a reduction in your premium costs if you install security features such as a highly sensitive alarm or a steering lock.
  • Fit parking sensors. Parking is the part of driving during which most accidents occur. Fitting parking sensors can keep your car much safer during parking manoeuvres and can, therefore, lead to a reduction in the cost of your insurance.
  • Lower your mileage. The more you drive, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident. So if you significantly reduce your annual mileage, your insurer should reward your efforts with cheaper premiums.
  • Join an owners’ club. As we have already seen, membership to a 4×4 owners’ club can entitle you to a discount. Check to see if your insurer has any offers or benefits for members. Or if you are already part of a club, ask the organisers if they are affiliated with any insurance providers.
  • Install a black box. A black box keeps track of how safe you are driving. It registers your mileage, your speed, and your smoothness. If you show your insurer that you are a safety-conscious driver, you will likely get cheaper premiums. However, this also works the other way, if you install a black box and it shows you to be a reckless driver, your premiums will probably rise.
  • Shop around. It is always a good idea to keep your options open before you buy car insurance so that you can find the best deal to suit your needs and the needs of your 4×4. And remember, the cheapest deal isn’t always the best one.


A 4×4 car insurance policy works the same way as regular car insurance policies. There are three levels of cover to choose from, with third-party insurance being the legal minimum.

Where 4×4 insurance differs from regular car insurance is the various optional extras that you can include in your policy that are not applicable to regular cars. These can include off-road cover, towing cover, and other extras that may be specific to your vehicle, such as modifications or cover for particular events.

Howden’s 4×4 insurance is tailored to your needs. We have a panel of over 40 insurers to choose from, so you can be sure to find the exact cover you require.

Also read:
How do I insure my 4×4?
Off-Road Insurance