Four wheelers and side-by-sides have become increasingly popular over the last decade, which is great! More riders on the trail drives demand, which brings sweeter machines and more exciting parts to the market.
But an increase in riders also leads to an increase in accidents. Flipping your machine or hitting something (or—yikes—someone) is always a possibility when you climb into the driver’s seat, no matter how careful you are.
So are you covered if something like this happens? Better yet, do you need to be covered?
ATV and UTV insurance is a specialized type of policy designed for recreational off-road vehicles. It provides you with financial protection in case of damage or loss, but it also comes at the cost of a premium and deductible.
Whether or not you need this type of insurance is up to you, though. Not every state requires that you carry insurance, but even if that’s the case, it might be worth looking into. Let’s take a look at why.
NOTE: The information shared in this article is not intended to take the place of legal or professional advice. If you have questions or concerns about your personal insurance requirements, you should speak directly to your local DMV or insurance agent.
That depends! While we’d love to give you a direct answer, it really comes down to your state’s requirements. Guidelines for insuring ATVs and side-by-side vehicles vary from state to state.
You should also note that even if your state doesn’t require insurance, your favorite ride park might! Several spots (especially if they’re government owned, like national parks) ask visitors to show proof of insurance before granting them permission to ride.
Another instance where insurance might be needed (regardless of state laws) is if you’re financing a machine. Most lenders require that you insure your ATV or UTV until the vehicle is paid off. And if you use your rig for work-related applications, there are some cases where a commercial vehicle insurance policy may be required, too.
The easiest way to learn about your state’s laws is to check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Check out this Policygenius article to learn how to contact the DMV in each state. A licensed insurance agent will also be able to help you understand what your area’s requirements are.
So you’ve done your research and learned that your state doesn’t require ATV or UTV insurance. Sweet! Looks like you can keep riding and never think about insurance again—right?
Just because you aren’t required to carry ATV or UTV insurance, doesn’t mean it’s not strongly recommended.
If you’re uninsured and you get into an accident, you are responsible for paying 100% of the associated cost. That might not be a big deal if you’re just looking at some scuffed-up bodywork or a cracked windshield. But if you total your machine and injuries or medical bills are involved, that accident could lead to serious financial distress.
Insurance doesn’t just cover you in case of a wreck, though. Fire, theft, and acts of nature are just a few other things that can harm you or your machine.
Paying that monthly insurance premium is a pain in the ass, but trust us—if something should ever happen, you’ll be grateful you bit the bullet and bought that policy.
Like your auto policy, ATV and UTV insurance offers financial and legal protection in the event of loss, damage, accident, injury, or theft. (We’ll talk more about how insurance protects you later on.)
Each insurance policy is different, based on state minimums and the additional coverages you opt for. Here’s a brief breakdown of the various coverage options you may see on your policy:
If this seems kind of confusing, don’t worry. It’s your agents job to explain which coverages are required and which are optional. The agent will also help you decide which coverage options are right for you.
An insurance policy for your quad or side-by-side isn’t that different from your home and auto policy. In short, insurance helps to cover any costs you collect as a result of an accident. The right insurance policy can help pay for vehicle repairs, medical bills, or even legal defense in case of a lawsuit.
How exactly does it work, though? If something happens—let’s say a tree falls on your side-by-side during an overnight storm—you’ll contact your insurance agent. The agent will open a claim.
After issuing the claim number, they will ask you to submit documentation of the accident. This may include photos, statements, or repair quotes from a dealership or mechanic. Sometimes a claims adjuster (the person assigned to investigate your incident) will even come assess the damage in person.
The adjuster will then review the damage and determine your compensation based on several factors. They will look at the nature of the accident, what type of coverage you have, what your deductible is, and more.
After setting your compensation, the company will issue payment so you can repair your machine and get back on the trails. The way payment is issued varies from company to company. Some insurance providers will issue a check directly to you, while others pay the repair shop directly.
Insurance is a great safety net, but you can’t always count on it to cover your butt if things go south. There are a few exclusions that may result in your claim being denied. It’s important to be aware of what these instances are before it’s too late.
Take racing, for example. Most ATV/UTV insurance policies don’t cover organized racing for obvious reasons—the risk is higher and therefore, there’s a higher chance you’ll need coverage at some point. (If you plan on racing, there are specialty insurers who will write a specific policy for that.)
Unauthorized riding is another exclusion. If you’re zipping down the interstate on your four-wheeler (or riding anywhere you’re not allowed, for that matter), your insurance coverage may very quickly become null and void.
To determine what type of ATV/UTV insurance coverage you need, there are a few things to consider. Here are some factors you and your insurance agent should look at when making this decision:
Be prepared to answer specific questions about your ride style in addition to providing this basic information. For example, do you ride in heavily-populated areas where there is a greater risk of injuring another person? What is the visibility like where you ride? Riding through dense, wooded trails or where there are lots of hills can contribute to poor visibility, putting you in a higher risk bracket.
After assessing these factors, you can decide if you’re comfortable riding under the bare minimum liability requirements or if you should invest in a policy that’s more comprehensive.
Insurance premiums vary greatly depending on the carrier, agent, your location, or your machine (among dozens of other factors). If you want to insure your quad or side-by-side, you could be looking at anywhere from a couple hundred dollars a year to a thousand or more.
Since we can’t give you a ballpark number in terms of how much a policy will cost you (that would be impossible), let’s take a look at the various factors that affect what you’ll pay.
When it comes to off-road vehicle insurance, two people can live in the same state and have the exact same machine, yet still end up paying totally different prices. This is because demographics play a large role in determining premiums.
One of the first thing an insurance agent looks at when writing a policy is your age and gender. It might seem like stereotyping (OK, it’s definitely stereotyping), but if one demographic is statistically more likely to drive recklessly or get in an accident, insurance companies are going to charge those people the most. This is why teenage boys end up paying the most for auto insurance, both with cars and ATVs or UTVs.
Your credit history and driving record may also be pulled. If you have a terrible driving record and insurance companies can see that, they’re most likely going to charge you more. Some insurance companies can even decide not to provide coverage if they feel like you’re too much of a risk.
We mentioned a few of these factors in the previous section when we looked at what kind of policy you should get. In addition to taking your ride’s year, make, and model into consideration, an insurance carrier might also look at your machine’s top speed or where you store it when it’s not in use.
It all comes down to risk. The more likely your machine is to sustain damage, the higher your premium will be.
The only way to know your price is to reach out to an agent for a quote. They’ll collect some basic info and let you know how much your desired coverage will cost.
Ultimately, the insurance carrier decides how much you’ll pay for coverage. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to bring that price down.
Here are some tips for getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to off-road vehicle insurance:
Once you’ve reached your desired price and are confident you’re getting a fair deal, your insurance agent will do all the work. All you have to do is sign some papers, fork over some cash, and then ride easy knowing you’re covered if something happens.
Insurance is a funny thing in that you want to have it, but you never wanna have to use it. Shopping around and paying that premium isn’t the most fun thing you’ll do this year, but nothing beats the sense of security you get knowing that someone has your back in case disaster strikes.
Whether you decide to ride insured or not, remember to always exercise caution and stay safe on the trails. You might be the most responsible driver in the world, but can you say the same about those around you?