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Vero Voice Blog

Off-roading – are you covered? 

Vicky Stringer

By Vicky Stringer
Executive Manager, Motor Claims

07 September 2020

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Advertisements for utes and 4X4 vehicles often show them powering through shallow rivers, driving across rugged terrain and adventuring off road. 

But just because your car can navigate off the beaten track, doesn’t mean your insurance will always cover you if you have an accident while doing it.  

So before you take off on an off-road adventure, make sure you’ve asked the question – am I covered by my car insurance policy if I have an accident? 

Some insurance policies don’t cover off-roading at all.

Some insurers specifically exclude damage caused by off-road driving. This is quite simply because mountainsides, ravines, and rivers are not intended for vehicles. 

If your insurer excludes off-road driving and you decide to take your vehicle off the beaten track, it’s important to know that you’ll be driving uninsured. 

Some insurers offer limited cover for genuine loss.

Other insurers don’t specifically exclude off-road vehicle use, but they limit the cover you get and will only be covered for ‘genuine loss’, where there was nothing you could do to prevent damage or harm. 

Under Vero’s Comprehensive car insurance our claims team will consider claims for off-road driving if the damage is accidental and unforeseen, and if you have taken all reasonable steps to prevent the loss.

Your insurer would likely assess the circumstances of each claim individually, but as an example, if you were off-roading and unexpectedly got caught in a hailstorm that batters your windscreen, you might be covered. However, if you drive into a river knowing that the water is deeper than axel level and your engine floods, the claim is likely to be declined. 

Similarly, if you are driving along a bush track and get hit by an oncoming vehicle, you’ll probably be covered, whereas if you drive into deep ruts or through trees, where broken axles and panel damage would be an expectation, you won’t be covered. 

It’s important to remember that while these policies leave room for insurers to consider ‘genuine loss’ claims, it’s likely that vehicle damage caused by off-roading still won’t be covered. 

Talk to a broker if you aren’t sure what your policy does and doesn’t cover.

As a rule of thumb, you won’t be covered for anything that is not expressly written into your policy. 

Read your policy wording carefully and make sure you understand what you are and aren’t covered for. 

If you intend to drive your car anywhere that is not a residential road, ask your broker whether your policy covers you if any damage were to occur as a result of driving off-road.  

While some standard insurance policies don’t include off-road coverage, insurers may offer add-ons or specific plans which can provide cover for your vehicle for this purpose. It’s important to understand what you’re covered for before you leave for your off-road adventure. Talk to your broker about what your policy includes and what options might be available.

If you're looking for a broker, you can use our broker locator here

The information in this article has been compiled from various sources and is intended to be factual information only. It is not personal advice and any description of an insurance product or service is not a complete description of all the terms and conditions applicable to the particular insurance product or service. You should consult a qualified adviser for advice on whether the information in this article is suitable for your personal situation and needs. While we take reasonable steps to ensure that the information contained in this article is accurate and up-to-date, it is subject to change without notice. Vero Insurance New Zealand and its related companies does/do not accept any responsibility or liability in connection with your use of or reliance on this article.

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