So far 4x4 vehicles account for 6% of all cars sold in London this year according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, accounting for 7,036 units out of a total of 114,887. Allen and Allen, the insurance agency, looked at a list of top ten selling 4x4s published in the Evening Standard and compared their costs to insure in Kingston, the London borough where 4x4s currently account for 43% of all new car sales.
Taking the example of a 30-year old housewife with a good driving record and maximum no claims bonus, it found the best value to insure was the Mitsubishi Shogun at £250, which was in fact bottom of the best sellers list.
The Suzuki Vitara, would cost about the same to insure as the Shogun, whilst the 8th placed BMW X5 is the most expensive to insure at around £550.
Top of the Evening Standard table, the Land Rover Freelander, and just behind it the Land Rover Discovery, would cost around £400 to insure.
But it doesn’t stop there says Allen and Allen: “Insurance premiums vary between models that are basically the same.” It is most often asked to quote on the Mitsubishi Pajero, the popular import version of the Shogun. Yet, the housewife in Kingston will have to pay £350 to insure her Mitsubishi if it sports a Pajero badge instead of £250.
Allen and Allen says that because 4x4’s are specifically designed to go off-road and are particularly desirable to thieves who can find ready markets for them in the Middle East and Africa, insurance premiums as a result will be much higher.
In response to this, and to keep premiums down, drivers may find that insurers insist approved security systems be fitted to 4x4s. If these are not factory fitted, additional costs may apply.
"The boom in 4x4 sales looks set to continue, even though their critics say they are a scourge on our streets and their drivers irresponsible," says Tony Allen, chief executive of the Allen and Allen Group.
"Environmentalists are calling for a total ban of 4x4 vehicles in London like the one Paris is considering and say at the very least they should be subject to heavier taxes and a hike in the congestion charge. This may come in time, but in the meanwhile people preparing to buy a 4x4 should take the hidden costs like insurance into account and not just concentrate on style when making their choice.