Do I need different car insurance for off-road vehicles?

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Many people enjoy riding dirt bikes, four-wheelers, snowmobiles, and other “off road” vehicles. However, many people make a crucial error when insuring these vehicles. They are under the mistaken impression that their automobile or homeowners insurance will cover damages caused to or by their operation of these vehicles. This is not the case, and if you do not have a separate insurance policy for your off-road vehicle, you could find yourself paying for the cost of replacing your bike or four-wheeler yourself, or even be liable for damages caused by the operation of the vehicle.

Most homeowners and auto insurance policies do not cover any type of recreational or off-road vehicle, either for physical damage or liability. In order to be properly insured, you will need separate insurance for your off-road vehicle which includes several types of coverage. Fortunately, most companies allow you to add these policies as riders to your regular automobile insurance, or take out a separate policy and qualify for a low price under the “multi-line” discount. You may even save money on your regular car insurance!

To be fully insured with your off-road vehicle, you should have, at a minimum:

Bodily Injury Liability

This type of insurance protects you if you are at-fault in an accident with your off-road vehicle and cause injury to another person. This type of coverage usually pays the other person’s medical expenses.

Property Damage Liability

If you hit another vehicle, a fence, a house, or any other type of property, property damage liability will cover the costs of replacing these items

Collision Coverage

If you cause an accident with your off-road vehicle, this type of coverage will pay for the physical damage to your vehicle. If someone else causes the accident, their liability insurance will have to pay for your damages.

Comprehensive Coverage

If your off-road vehicle is damaged by anything other than an accident, comprehensive insurance will cover the cost to replace or repair the vehicle. Examples of situations covered by comprehensive insurance would be damage from a fire, flood, or tornado, or theft of your off-road vehicle.

You can even get optional coverage, such as towing, for your off-road vehicle with many companies. Some companies will offer uninsured motorist coverage in case someone who does not have insurance hits and damages your off-road vehicle.

Off-road vehicles which are eligible for these types of policies usually include four-wheelers, three-wheelers, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, golf carts, dune buggies, and any other motorized vehicle not intended for on-road use. Most non-motorized vehicles are not considered “off road” vehicles for insurance purposes.

Will my off-road car insurance also cover use on typical roads?

Be careful when operating your off-road vehicle; many insurance companies specify that you are only covered for off-road use, and will not pay damages if you ride your vehicle on a public highway. In most states, it is illegal to operate such a vehicle on a public road, so be sure to understand your state and local laws and the limitations of your insurance policy regarding your off-road vehicle.

Many companies offer significant discounts if you insure your off-road vehicle with the same insurer as your automobile insurance. For example, Allstate offers a discount of up to 40 percent on the price of off-road vehicle insurance if your car and house are already insured with Allstate. Farmers offers ten percent off multi-line policies, and Geico offers special discounts for anti-theft devices installed on off-road vehicles, as well as multi-policy discounts.

In order to find the best prices for your off-road vehicle insurance, it is important to compare prices not only from your current insurance agency but from others as well. It may be that you can find a suitable policy cheaper with another company, although it is likely that your current company will offer you a good price. Of course, the price you get on your off-road vehicle insurance, like that of your car and other policies, will depend on your claim history, driving record, age, and other deciding factors.

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