If a 4x4 Crashes in the Woods…
By Sean Cundall
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association doesn't keep
car accident statistics
for rollovers that happen in the woods, or the times cars get stuck
in the sand, but it's safe to assume that off-road insurance wouldn't
even exist if there weren't a significant number of incidents either
with off-road vehicles (ORV), or adventurous drivers with 4x4s.
If you don't have a special off-road policy already, you should resist
the urge to take your four-wheel drive vehicle off the beaten track
until you've read your existing insurance policy, and checked for
coverage. Some insurers do include extremely limited off-road
coverage, but most don't cover all four-wheeling activities. If your
policy does not explicitly mention off-road activities, you probably
If you go off-roading under a standard policy, and get into an accident
you will very likely have trouble getting your existing insurer to
pay out a claim, and if they do cover repairs, you should expect your
premium to be increased significantly.
There Are Options
The only truly cheap
auto insurancefor off-roading is designed specifically for ORVs, but if you're
determined to go off-road in the same 4x4 you drive every day, you
should know that there are options for coverage. They are:
- Add a recreational use rider to your regular insurance policy. This will
increase your policy, but not as much as a non-covered accident
would, and it will include many of the extra features as an ORV
- Contact small carriers, or specialty carriers, to see if they can cover a
daily driver for off-road use. You may be able to do this as
supplemental insurance, or you may have to move your policy
entirely, but there are ways to get this coverage.
Whichever option you select, you'll want to make sure that the quote you
receive includes the following:
- Coverage for safety gear,
including protective clothing, helmets and goggles
- Replacement and repair of aftermarket parts.
- Increased liability coverage limits
- Coverage for non-collision accidents, including medical care if you flip your truck.
All of these items are generally
excluded from traditional policies, but standard with ORV
policies. Recreational use riders may not cover gear or
Another alternative is to invest
in a dedicated ORV. This can be a dune buggy or ATC, but it's
possible to simply designate a truck that is no longer street-legal
as off-road only and cover it as a rEcreational vehicle. In that
case, however, you'd have to acquire a tow-trailer or sled, because
such vehicles are not allowed to roll on county roads.
Off-roading is becoming
increasingly popular as an inexpensive but intensely active family
hobby, but it should never be considered without insurance coverage.
Knowing your policy, and knowing your options, will save you money in
the long run.