comparo-mods-and-accessories

Illegal Modifications – Running the Gauntlet

Modifying our 4X4s to improve their performance and longevity for the kind of travel we do is integral to our hobby. It’s like a camp oven damper and golden syrup – both delicious in isolation, but it’s when they come together that the real magic happens.

Whether it be a suspension upgrade to allow a bit more clearance and provide a more balanced ride when towing a 24ft caravan, or the latest barwork to protect your vulnerable panels and improve approach and departure angles, the end goal is the same – we invest in our machines to make them more fit for purpose.

One of the most important considerations in putting together Club 4X4’s Comprehensive 4X4 Insurance policy was ensuring we were providing a product that protects the significant investment we make in preparing our rigs. We are proud to say we now have thousands of happy customers on board, 95% of which have some form of modification or accessories added to their trucks. Often the value of these modifications and accessories exceed half of the value of the vehicle and in some lucky cases, above the value altogether.

The key difference of our product is the way we value your vehicle. You can choose a market or agreed value for the truck itself, then we will ask you what your modifications and accessories are worth. Depending on the value you nominate, there may be a need to sight photos and a list of your modifications, but if that all checks out, we will add the two values together to provide you the most comprehensive total sum insured on the market. See the below for an example.

comparo-mods-and-accessories

Over the last few months we have had a number of questions from policyholders and potential customers around our coverage of illegal modifications and accessories. From the outset, I want to make very clear that Club 4X4 does not condone modifications of an illegal nature. Those that choose to illegally modify their trucks walk a tightrope with law enforcement and their insurance coverage, let alone the effects some modifications have on the safety of the vehicle on and off road. There are ways around this and as most will know, we all have the opportunity to engage an engineer in the process of building our trucks. As a rule, a customer who goes to the effort to get their vehicle engineered will be fully covered in the same way we would cover a vehicle that is modified within the legalities of the state they register in. 

Many moons ago in the planning phase of Club 4X4, the intent was to up-skill the team around the legalities of modifications, so that assessments can be made on whether a vehicle was roadworthy or not. The challenge was maintaining the currency of knowledge given the differences in legislation in each state, as such we chose not to go down that path. We chose to put the responsibility for road-worthiness on the policyholder; not dissimilar to other insurance policies on the market. As such, we are happy to cover all modifications and accessories within the process outlined earlier, with no assessment or judgement made on legalities.

The key question however, is will we cover illegal modifications when it comes to claim time?

The simple answer is, yes, unless it is found that any illegal modifications you’ve made to your vehicle contributed to your claim. As an example, if your vehicle rolls on or off-road, and during the process of assessment it is found that you had a suspension lift that is higher than the legal limit, we will investigate further as it’s a well known fact that a higher centre of gravity will affect a truck’s propensity to roll. If it is determined that this is the case, your claim may be refused or reduced. However, if you’re claiming for damage to a rear bumper when you hit that bollard in the car park, then the likelihood of that same lift being contributory to the claim is removed. Each case will be slightly different and as stated before, we don’t condone illegal modifications, but the above examples will give you a guide to how we want to manage claims at Club 4X4 – with a reasonableness test. 

Regardless of who you decide to insure with, the safest option for everyone is to stick to modifications that are legal. But if you choose to insure with Club 4X4, you should have some comfort that we understand what you need and will always apply sensibility into our processes. 

After all, we are the insurer for 4X4 Enthusiasts.

 

Happy Touring

 

Kalen Ziflian

General Manager Club 4X4

 

Resources:

Club 4X4 Supplementary Product Disclosure Statement (SPDS) – adjustment to the clause on page 18 of the main PDS found on the bottom of Page 2 of the SPDS.

 

 

Comments 40

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  1. Dennis moore

    I was interested in your insurance but was put of by my modifications. 1inch body lift , 3inch suspension lift and 3inch larger tyres. Where would I stand in San accident on a highway ?

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      kalen

      Hi Dennis,

      Is you vehicle engineered? – if so then there’s no issue whatsoever.

      If not, there are too many variables to answer that question unfortunately. If you were going down the freeway at 110km/h and had to swerve, the way the truck would react would be very different to a stock version. Lift, (be it suspension, body or tyre based) brings to light issues with stability when making sudden sidewards movements or when turning. As per the example in the article, if you were to roll your particular vehicle, in any conditions, further investigation would need to happen to determine whether the mods you’ve listed were contributory and could lead to your claim being rejected or refused.

      Cheers

      Speaking generally, you would have cause for concern.

  2. Alan Sellars

    The reason I chose Club 4×4 to insure my Gq Patrol was the coverage you supply on and off road ,and the cover you gave me on my modifocations
    great

  3. Mike

    Hi Kalen
    A concise explanation about insurance coverage.appreciate the open and transparent way you guys have gone about things

    Cheers
    Mike

  4. Doan

    I was really interested in your insurance and didn’t mind the higher premium for extra cover. However, after reading the PDS, I’m disappointed that you use non genuine parts as well as secondhand parts and worse of all, you deduct the value of the parts based on age. This would mean I’m pretty much paying for my own repairs if you deem the parts in question is at the end of its useful life such as a radiator or a faded bonnet. What’s the point of having extra cover in this case? How often do you write off a vehicle though?

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      kalen

      Doan,

      The clause you are referring to is on page 3 of the PDS right at the bottom. The clause states that we will use a combination of new, used or replacement parts. Determination of use will be depending on the condition and age of your vehicle. Ie – if you have a 2 year old vehicle which is under warranty, we wont be putting a second hand part on. Whereas if its a 12 year old vehicle where there’s a good chance a new part cannot be found we may go second hand or replacement.

      We identified some time ago that we need to be more specific here. The intent is that any vehicle under manufacturer warranty will have an OEM part used. This will come in future PDS changes, but in the meantime it is here in plain sight for all to see.

      Hope that helps.

      Kalen

  5. Julian

    Another important thing to remember is that this process for Club4x4 only relates to insurance claims with a modififed vehicle.

    You will still be at risk of fines, defect notices and maybe even criminal charges if your vehicle is pulled over by the police or RTA inspector and found to be illegal.

    Imagine how you would feel if you were on that trip of a lifetime and got your vehilce defected before you even got off the tar!

  6. john schliff

    Being a qld examiner,suggestion, if in doubt reguards a modification contact qld transport or your equivalent , and ask. remember, really,vehicles should not be modified past makers specs, just ask, and contact your insurer

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  7. Paul

    Just remember, You will probably not be covered by “any” insurance companies if your vehicle does not fall with in legal guidelines.You would find out when you make a claim.
    Good to see Club 4×4 is honest upfront.

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      kalen

      Hi Paul – a generalisation yes. Our article states that an illegal mod need to contribute to an accident to be an issue – a key difference between us the mainstream and “specialist” insurers.

  8. Steve

    I own a V8 79 series Landcruiser, I have 2″ spacers on the rear wheels to bring them in line with the front axle. Would I be covered.

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      kalen

      Hi Steve.

      If they are deemed to be contributory to any claim you may make then it will be an issue. This is also dependant if spacers are illegal in the state where the 79 is registered.

      Kalen

  9. John Sullivan

    Would love to insure with you, but when I enquired about a policy, was told I couldn’t get a policy with you due to having too many claims…………. How come I can still get coverage with my current insurer, but not you?

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      kalen

      G’day John,

      Every insurer has their own underwriting criteria which will stipulate whether coverage can be offered or not.

      Our guidelines have a certain number of claims, be it at fault or not at fault, at which point a policy cannot be offered. Unfortunately in this case the number of claims you’ve had meant that we weren’t able to offer you cover.

      Sorry about that

      Kalen

  10. Russell Sephton

    And yet. You refuse to insure my 80 series landcruiser because the value of my 100% legal modifications are too great. Even though all I have done is similar to every other 4×4 getting around (basic suspension, tyres, winch and barwork etc). My impression is you only want to insure new cars.

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      kalen

      G’day Russell,

      I’ve asked the team to do a search and we cannot find a quote in the system for your name – can you forward on a quote number, phone number and rego number to [email protected]?. Please attention it to Kalen so it makes it’s way to me.

      Regarding old or new vehicles, it’s quite the contrary. We have no issue insuring an FJ40 Landruiser nor a 200 series and have done countless of each.

      In any case, if you can forward on those details, i will work with the sales team to understand exactly what happened here. We have never knocked a customer back because they have too many mods – we may have reduced the amount for various reasons but we’ve never knocked back on that reason.

      Look forward to hearing from you

      Kalen

  11. Bernie

    On the subject of “Illegal Mods”
    My vehicle is a 1996 GQ Patrol, bought second hand in 2000 and within months of buying it I had a complete 5 inch suspension fitted with extended Panhard rods, longer drive shaft, shock absorbers, diff breathers etc etc. All this done before any legislation regarding “Illegal Modifications” was introduced,
    So my question is.
    Am I exempt or was the legislation retrospect?
    I have never been asked by officials about the height of my vehicle, and I have had reason to work with several of them over the years both Police and Dept of Transport.
    Or have I just been lucky?

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      kalen

      Bernie,

      From a legality perspective that’s a question you’ll need to ask for Law enforcement and or the local registration authority.

      Cheers

      Kalen

  12. Aaron

    Fantastic article guys. Very pleased to see a clear, concise explanation out there for all to read, without the need to hide behind a PDS. I think you guys will do well!

  13. Michael Vaughan

    A response to Russell, with his modified 80 series.
    I changed my insurance to Club 4×4, specifically because they would reasonably cover my older vehicle, with extensive mods.
    My previous insurer kept putting the premium up, but at the same time, lowering the agreed value amount.
    Club 4×4 said to the effect of “how much do want to insure the base car for?”, then “how much coverage do you want on modifications?” – add the two together & I have $14,000 agreed insured value on a 16 year old Suzuki Grand Vitara.
    There is no way I could hope to sell it for that, but something like that amount would be needed to replace it like for like, if it was a total loss.
    I haven’t had a claim via Club 4×4 – yet & hope I don’t have to, but so far, very happy with what Club 4×4 offers.
    Thanks, Michael

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  14. Ben

    Hi guys I tried to insure my 03 Gu patrol with you guys and I was knocked back due to having a 6.5 chev deisel motor fitted which is fully engineered in Vic. In your statement it says that if the vehicle is engineered there is no problem. Why was I knocked back?

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      kalen

      Ben

      Any disapprovals for coverage come through me. I have never knocked back a vehicle based on a Chev conversion – this is bread and butter stuff and we have insured a number of them.

      I am keen to understand what happened with your polic. Can you forward on your quote number, rego number, full name and phone number to [email protected] and attention it to Kalen.

      I will then get the team to find your quote and check what happened.

      Cheers

      Kalen

  15. Denis Gailey

    Hi Kalen,

    I have removed my back seat from my dual cab, squab and back and fitted a 5 ply board in its place to accomodate a 60 litre fridge, aux battery ( AGM in an enclosed box) folding solar panels and a water heater. I have virtually converted my dual cab to being just a 2 seater for front seat driver and passenger, is this legal to remove seats and seat belts. ( fridges etc. are of course tied down) ??? Have now figured I could get by with less and want to install a single seat in the back with a 2/3 floor board for fridge, battery and solar panels in the back and ditch the water heater. I KNOW that requires an engineers submission to make it legal and will do so if I go ahead. My immediate question is am I legal if I just left it as is with the 5 play board and two seats up front.

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      kalen

      Denis

      Legality is an area that i’d prefer not to comment on. Your best bet is to contact your local registration authority and ask them.

      Sorry

      Kalen

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  17. Mark

    Hi, i have a 2015 isuzu dmax,fitted with alloy wheels and an ARB lift(30-40mm) and a few other accessories.I intend getting a 6 wheel(lazy axle) conversion which is engineered approved in QLD fitted around feb 2017 the vehicle is registered in tas and i also intend travelling the mainland with a 24ft caravan,all weights gvm,atm,gcm will be within the legal guidlines,will you insure both van and dmax?or just the dmax?

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  21. Kerry

    Hi Kalen
    I was insured with 2 insurace companys full comp on subaru forester and harley and home ,i have purchased
    an Iveco 4×4,insurance companies didn,t even acknowledge it ,i rang Club 4×4 they made a quote for me
    and offered $107,000 cover plus $14,000 accessories cover with very reasonable premiums and excess,also new for old replacement and all sorts of extras.
    thanks and regards

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