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Have Fun, But Don’t Neglect Liability Insurance for ATVs, Snowmobiles

Whether it's the fun of exploring the great outdoors or the joy of spending time with family and friends, ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) and snowmobiles can be a great way to experience nature and create lively memories.

While safety should be the number one concern for ATV and snowmobile owners, it's also essential for individuals to make sure they have the proper insurance coverage.

"The biggest mistake that many ATV and snowmobile owners make is assuming they are covered by their homeowners or auto insurance policies," said Jeff Stratton, an account manager at HUB International. "Not having adequate insurance creates a significant personal liability exposure."

Here are some key risks you need to manage if you own an ATV or snowmobile:

Accidents Happen 

  • Even if you only allow friends and family members to drive, you are still at risk for being sued if someone is injured, or damage is caused to someone else's property. ATVs in particular are associated with relatively high rates of injury.

Young Operators 

  • Don't assume everyone is covered when driving or riding on an ATV or snowmobile. Many insurance policies explicitly exclude young operators. In addition, provincial regulations or natural resources agency rules may restrict operator age. For this reason, you should always check local laws if you are travelling outside of your home area.

Away from Home 

  • Most homeowners' insurance policies do not offer coverage for motorized vehicles whether used on or off your property. This means you will need to purchase a separate policy.  However, even with a separate policy, you should confirm with your HUB broker that you are covered outside of your home province if you plan to operate your machine at an event or gathering away from home. Note that in some jurisdictions, you need to carry proof of insurance with you.
  • Personal liability protection should be your number one concern when shopping for an ATV or snowmobile insurance policy. Make sure the policy you select meets the coverage limits specified in your auto and personal umbrella policies and includes the following:

Bodily injury coverage 

  • Provides coverage for claims or lawsuits arising out of an injury that is determined to be your responsibility. It reduces the risk of your personal property being taken from you to settle a judgment.

Property damage coverage 

  • Protects you if you're at fault in an accident that causes damage to another person's property, such as their vehicle, home or building.

Medical payments 

  • Covers expenses not covered by any other insurance in case of an accident, such as ambulance, emergency room fees or doctor visit. Be sure to ask if your policy includes Guest Passenger medical coverage

In order to minimize premium costs, your HUB broker can help you obtain discounts on ATV insurance for taking an operator safety course. Policies and regulations vary so much from place to place that it is essential that you speak with a local advisor. Also, ask about discounts for multiple ATVs and snowmobiles. Some insurers may also offer multiline discounts.

Riding ATVs and snowmobiles can be a fun and exhilarating experience for both kids and adults. Just remember to be safe and take steps to manage your personal liability risk.