Economic uncertainty ahead – some initial thoughts on navigating it…

It’s undeniable that we are facing unprecedented risks to health in Australia and across the globe; the directions around social distancing and staying at home for all but vital excursions is clear and at Club 4X4 we are taking this seriously and have all our staff currently working from home as a result. We are available as we always have been to service your policy and claim requirements.

Another significant issue, more for some than others, is financial challenges. With uncertainty about jobs in some sectors, Australians will unprecedentedly be looking for ways to make sure that the bills get paid. For some of us, that will mean tightening the belt, and for others it will mean more drastic measures. The priority here is to protect the ones we love and the assets that we’ve worked hard to build.

There is no doubt that some hard calls need to be made, not only because budgets are tighter, but because our ability to get back what we have now will be reduced by the challenges – I.E – with less income and a potentially uncertain future, more than ever we cannot afford to lose what we have.

The first thing that has probably crossed peoples minds is alternate employment – if your job or business shuts down, what would your earning potential be? Next, what might the bank do in these uncertain times, and what is available from the Government?

Some of us will have income protection insurance and will be curious if that can be used. Unfortunately, even if you’ve got income protection, unless you can’t work for the qualifying period as the result of getting sick (and this period is usually 30-90 days), then you wont be able to claim on that.

From there, most of us will look to cut non-critical expenses, things like new clothes, eating out etc (which is limited to takeaway now anyway). And when this is done, insurance will come up at some point and you’ll be tempted to look for the cheapest option.

It is really important that you don’t lose sight of the fact that insurance is the last line of defence for your assets, and now more than ever it is critical you make the right decision around it. Because if something goes wrong, you will be in less of a position to wear the financial risk or recover from that loss yourself. You may simply think that switching to cheaper insurance is ok because the risk of loss is lowered if you are at home, but you may well be wrong in that assessment.

We could be looking at unemployment levels that rise, and we are already seeing fighting over items that are as trivial as toilet paper and baby wipes. Could this lead to a higher instance of theft of property as people find ways to fill gaps? I don’t want to sound alarmist, but history and experience shows this to be the case.

I can forgive you for thinking I’m wrong here, but the question I ask is what would you do if your pride and joy is stolen overnight and isn’t insured appropriately? Or more likely, you wake up and it has had a heap of its accessories nicked?

As you need to manage your budget, you need to weigh up what risk you can accept for your vehicle and trailer or caravan insurance. And it is important that you do your due diligence. And this may mean simply calling your current insurance company and checking that your policy is setup properly for your needs. Regardless of who you choose, please consider:

Sum insured – does the overall sum insured accurately represent what the vehicle would cost to replace? If not, are you happy to accept that loss and are you prepared to live with a replacement that is not equivalent to what you have now? Is the sum insured appropriate to cover finance remaining on the vehicle – you are in breach of your agreement if not!

Mods and accessories – does your policy cover all of your mods and accessories? And when I say cover, I don’t mean just having it listed on a piece of paper, I mean does your sum insured reflect the total cost of those additions? If not, why not? Have you asked your current insurer to cover them? If not, you could be under insuring and again end up with less than what you have now if the worst happened.

Discounts – are you getting the most from your policy here? Think multi policy discounts, driver training discounts, age exclusions, 4wd Club memberships and more. They can add up significantly!

Excesses – if you increase your excess, you can reduce your premium, although you then take on more of the risk. But it can provide some financial relief.

There is a lot to think about here. Insurance is a product worth looking into as part of your budget review. Only you can make the right decision, but the team at Club 4X4 would be happy to do a health check on your current policy or quote you on your insurance. Being focused on the 4X4 enthusiast, we pride ourselves on being able to tailor a policy to your needs. When you call us during business hours you get a real person based in our NSW call Centre who genuinely cares about ensuring you get quality service and and enjoyable conversation. As always just call us on 1800 CLUB 4X4 (258 249) or email us at contactus@club4x4.com.au and we will get back to you.

Don’t forget to keep things in perspective – changing to the cheapest possible insurance might only save you the cost of a cup of coffee or so a week, but the difference in cover and sum insured could be chalk and cheese.

So the big question you need to answer before you cut your insurance is, do you really need more than one streaming service at the moment? Really? Because the hard truth is that spending less on entertainment is probably going to net you a bigger economic saving than saving a buck on your insurance if you need to make a claim.

I sincerely wish you all the best of luck over the coming weeks and month and we’d love to keep this discussion going – we’ve got some financial experts on board and will look to answer your questions about anything finance or insurance related here – tell us what you want to know and we will start getting some answers!

Take care, and stay safe,

Kalen

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Comments 24

  1. Hi Kalen. I like the product you offer and am a current customer. One of the big issues facing us at present is the travel bans, movement restrictions and state border lock downs. Beside trying to preserve cash like crazy at present, the biggest issue for me in renewal shortly will be the “remote recovery” option which obviously adds cost to the premium. My understanding is that you can only elect to take the remote recovery option at renewal and not part way through a year as an upgrade. The problem at present is that we are unable to use our toys, especially as now is commencement of “grey nomad” time and as such, we would be paying for a cover that cant be used or electing to not have it because of that and not be able to get it later when the restrictions are lifted. Perhaps this is something to consider offering your clients in the current climate. This way, you might increase the chances of retaining customers via flexible options?? Food for thought.
    Regards & keep safe.
    Murray

    1. Hi Murray,

      Thanks so much for the detailed response and for your custom.

      A really well thought out concept. You’re right, we do have conditions for how these additional products can be added to policies.

      The same concept was brought up by a number of my team at one of our daily catch-ups in the last couple of days. I’m so glad that the idea has been validated by you, a customer, as something worthwhile.

      We are living in extraordinary times, so my directive to my team has been to think in extraordinary ways. As such i’ve encouraged all of my team to consider the needs of our customers, propose solutions and where it’s conceivable and works we will certainly do it.

      I can say over the last few days we have removed extensions of our Off Road Recovery Cover for motor vehicle customers and also added Laid-up Cover for customer with trailers – all to try and support everyone’s individual needs in a difficult time.

      I encourage everyone to call and have a chat – myself and my team are here to help

      Happy Touring

      Kalen

  2. Hi Kalen
    I have just renewed my Vehicle and trailer insurance and included a $15k recovery addition to the policy
    on The Triton.
    We were planning to do the Savanna way in May this year the reason for the upgrade on the policy, we of course are now unable to travel perhaps and as such might not be able to travel at all for some time.
    My question is can the Recovery insurance be transferred to next years policy?
    Thanks Russell
    Policy no 4X43070089

    1. G’day Russell,

      It can’t be transferred, but given your changing plans, you can remove it and get refunded. I can get one of my team to call you based on the details in your policy if you like Russell, just say the word.

      Kal

  3. Pingback: So you are not using your Camper Trailer or Caravan right now – 5 ways to manage the cost of that insurance - CLUB 4X4

  4. I understand your points regarding appropriate cover and I have no intention to reduce cover at this stage. However, at this stage my cruiser is sitting locked up in the garage and being used once or twice a week to run an errand, do you or will you be offering discounts (Km’s based or otherwise) to account for such limited usage? Given that this will be the case for many people, your exposure as an insurer decreases and perhaps you could help people out financial by taking this into account.

    Thank-you

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks Rob,
      This is something we are looking into. We will keep you informed of progress, but because it is not part of the product and we are a financial service, there are a few hoops to jump through first. We will keep you updated.

      Regards,

      Aiden

    1. Post
      Author
  5. Hi Kalen,

    Some of us are lucky enough to own a 4×4 that isnt our daily driver and due to the current situation have parked them in our garages for the foreseeable future,

    Are they any plans to extend your laid up insurance to cover vehicles as well? I know of quite a few people who would jump at this.

    1. Post
      Author

      G’day Clinton,
      Great suggestion. We are looking into this as an option, but it would be a product change which means it isn’t something we can turn on instantly unfortunately. We will keep you informed of progress on this…

      Aiden

  6. Hi there, what was the name of the recommended 4wd training company in Sydney? If it is still running this would be a good time to do it, get the certificate and then a discount on our insurance. Thanks

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Matt,
      We recommend Getabout Training services. They will also give you a discount as a Club 4X4 customer.

  7. Hi Kalen,

    Here is some feedback, a chance i can now set your expectation as a customer that doesn’t feel very valued by Club 4×4 for the year ahead.
    Firstly, great letter, it is appreciated, not sure about others but i feel you are just trying to set customers expectations on not leaving, a further increase in premiums to justify not removing unnecessary coverage that isn’t required or able to be taylored through your policies.

    That said, my policy went up 25% this year already, and after 3 respectful opportunistic calls to Club 4×4 no one was able to give me a solid reason on why it increased so much or at least how it is calculated (I am still waiting for a call back – but no one can answer it so no one will call)
    The only way to recover some unnecessary cost to this rediculous increase was to do a 4wd course $400 (gave a 25% discount – might pay off in a year, but had to take a day off work).

    That said, my car is my 3rd car. Sits on battery charger, most of the time. I do 3000km a year if that.
    I live in low denisty urban/country suburb with very low vehicle claim stats. Its an immaculate low km 19 year old 105 series landcruiser. behind a garage door.
    Yet, even with the excess options (I don’t want to change this) and current travel and outing restrictions i still don’t understand why you wont review your current premium algorthym. I haven’t made a claim on any insurer for 20+ years. So same cover with lower premium is better than increased cover (of little value and risk) with higher premium in my opinion.

    It is making me seriously think after several years whether i am getting value from Club 4×4. If you hadn’t increased my premium 25% i would have been fine (would have been fine with 5-10% even). But all you did was tick me off. Makes no sense to us ‘4×4 enthusiasts’.

    1. G’day Duncan,

      Thanks very much for a very detailed and balanced response – greatly appreciated.

      I would love the opportunity to give you a call personally and talk to you about your experience and see if there is anything that can be done about your specific policy – i will send you an email personally to start that engagement.

      There are a great number of points you’ve made here that i think many readers of this article will see benefit in getting a response from – so please see below:

      1) The reason for this article – I can understand and respect your opinion on the article being a way to protect our policy base, a negative intent, rather than truly trying to support the community that supports us. We are continuing to retain policies at a rate enviable for most insurers, as we always have, and in line with the last 6 months as an average. This is a combination of pricing and product strategy, but also my team working very hard to provide our customers with opportunities to lower their premium load during this challenging period. By taking this honest and transparent approach we are actually foregoing premium and income at a time when we aren’t seeing a downturn in retention. We do this because it is the right thing to do and i stand by it.

      2) Premium Increases – Like any insurance product, premiums (or the algorithm of premium calculation as your correctly put it) are regularly reviewed to ensure sustainability in light of claims experience specific to the portfolio, but also market shifts. This results in premiums being either discounted or increased at renewal. Unfortunately predicting and setting premium for a specific policy in a book of tens of thousands is really challenging. In your case, you note that you’ve not had any claims and you’ve seen continual increases in your premium; this certainly seems unfair and I can understand your frustration. I often refer to insurance as a community rated product – where premiums are set to cover the risks associated with certain profiles that may consist of vehicle type, age group, modification value, postcode, state and a raft of other underwriting factors. In this case it would appear that your premium has gone up to reflect a risk profile that you fall into.

      3) Usage based premiums – We do have a group of policyholders that are lucky enough, like you, to have their 4X4 as a very specific unit that doesn’t get used everyday. You’re right, for those sorts of cases, there is a strong benefit in being able to nominate the level of usage and not pay the same as someone who uses their fourby to drive the kids to school daily. We don’t have that functionality, yet. It’s something I have had a lot of feedback on and am working with my underwriter on as we speak.

      4) Discounting Criteria – We have various ways to affect your current premium – you’ve noted of-road driver training. We can also do driver age exclusions, excess changes and changes to the value of a vehicle as ways to improve the premium position. I will talk through these when we engage eventually.

      5) Service – You note you’ve tried times to engage on premium and have been dissatisfied. This is something i really want to talk to you about in more detail to identify any opportunities for improvement – this isn’t really good enough in my opinion.

      I look forward to talking soon Duncan

      Kalen Ziflian
      General Manager

      1. Thanks Kalen, appreciate the explanation and reply. I understand (but won’t obviously fully appreciate it not being in that industry of course!) with the challenges to being competitive as you put it, as I do agree insurance being a community rated product. I just never in 20 years of being insured had a 25% increase to the current premium. Happy to chat some time.

      2. Hi,

        Regarding the pay as you drive insurance, I think this is where the whole industry is going, not just insurance but licensing and registration as well. Insurance will be the test case for it.

        I read this article recently https://www.bbc.com/news/business-45758926 and it is already happening in the Uk and Europe, probably US also.

        For the service that Club 4×4 offers, you really need to have a diversified range of products rather than a 1 size fits all policy. I found this out the hard way recently, as my premium went up by over 25% and my agreed value went down by over $5k to below what I thought was market. in one year and with no claims!! After quite a few phone calls with your office I managed to get the agreed value to a level I thought appropriate, but the fact of the matter is, as above, my truck isn’t a daily driver, I use it to go camping on roughly 3-4 trips a year, and the insurance premiums are starting to be not economic anymore. To not be able to go camping because the premiums are too high, is a bad outcome for everyone.
        An specialist insurer for 4x4s stands to gain a hell of a lot more business with a pay as you go model as there is probably a large chunk of people who go with a budget insurer and just risk the few camping trips a year. With this model customers also gain a lot, and the broader 4×4 industry will probably gain a lot as well as people will be buying more camping & 4wd equipment with the extra cash saved on premiums!

        As it stands, there is roughly 50% less traffic on the roads, nobody can go camping and therefore Club 4×4 will be paying out many many less claims – so you stand to make much more money at the moment than you otherwise would. I appreciate you’re looking into pay as you go models with the underwriter and I hope they are progressing.

        1. Post
          Author

          G’day Elliot,
          Aiden (Marketing Manager) here. Thanks for reaching out and taking the time to provide such a structured, respectful and well written response. Firstly, I’m glad that we got to the right agreed value for your vehicle, despite the challenges. Our focus is always on providing strong value for the 4X4 enthusiast, and I can assure you that we are working on the idea of a limited use option for those who are lucky enough to have a 4X4 that isn’t their daily driver. There are a few hoops to go through to make this adjustment, so we don’t have a firm details available on this yet, but we are working through that as fast as we possibly can. We are a business, and need to make a fair profit to be able to sustain doing what we do, but ensuring we offer great value to our customers is at the forefront of our business. We are considering the customer in all aspects of our decision making right now as we navigate current circumstances, and fair premiums are an important part of the equation. Thanks for being a customer, and again thanks for your contribution – we will be sure to keep you updated.

          Regards,

          Aiden

  8. Hi,
    I am a current customer and my camper trailer is due for insurance renewal.
    It is an Aussie swag ultra D with a number of options. Cost was $60 K in Feb 2015.
    Do you insure camper trailers?
    Thanks
    Graeme

    1. Post
      Author

      We sure do Graeme! And if you’ve got another asset insured with us, you’ll get 10% off both…
      Can I have someone give you a call to get you a quote?

      Aiden

  9. The Reason I’m looking for another insurer is my premiums keep rising and I’ve never made any claims, started off at roughly $85 a month now it’s over $110 within less than 3 years.
    It Should be getting cheaper as a no claim Bonus and as my Hilux is losing Value with age.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Paul,
      I’m sorry to hear that you need to look at another insurer. Do you mind if I look into this for you and see if there is anything I can do for you here?
      Aiden

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