How Off-Roading Insurance Works: A Complete Guide

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Off roading insurance: 4x4 Jeep in the desert

Do you have an old pickup truck that you like to drive through the woods? How about a Jeep Wrangler? No matter your vehicle of choice, many drivers today want to enjoy both the paved city streets as well as the mud and dirt off-road paths in their area.

While off-roading can be a blast, it’s often frowned upon by your insurer. So frowned upon, in fact, that they probably won’t cover you if you get into an accident, hurt yourself or just about any other standard, claim-worthy incident while off-roading. That’s why you may need to purchase a specific off-roading insurance policy.

Here’s everything you need to know about how off-road car insurance works, along with what to do if you need to file a claim.

With Off-Roading, Insurance Details Matter

The first thing you should know is that auto insurance policies typically insure drivers for “normal use,” which means very few insurance policies cover off-road driving. 

According to your insurance company, roads from your driveway to the highway are meant for cars. But if you’re driving up the side of a mountain or down ravines, those places aren’t meant for driving. As such, many insurers won’t cover you because you shouldn’t be doing it anyway. Boo!

This means if you take your street-legal, insured vehicle off the beaten path, you will be driving uninsured. Any claim you file will be denied if you get into an accident.

However, some policies do provide limited coverage at no extra cost. These are few and far between, though. Before driving off-road, read your insurance policy’s fine print; you’re only covered if it’s expressly written into the plan.

Furthermore, a provider that doesn’t offer off-roading insurance may be more likely to drop you altogether if they catch you driving on dirt and mud tracks. You could have your insurance canceled or dropped during the renewal phase of your coverage. Know your coverage and your rights, and don’t drive off-road without first ensuring you’re protected.

If your policy coverage is lacking, you may want to shop around and compare car insurance policies to find one with the coverage you need.

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Off roading insurance: black SUV traversing a muddy road

Get an Off-Roading Insurance Policy

While many standard insurance plans don’t include off-road coverage, some insurance agencies have plans specifically for this purpose. If you decide to purchase off-roading insurance, you should consider adding the following types of coverage to your policy:

  • Bodily injury liability insurance coverage: Driving off-road can be risky, so you’ll want to have a policy that prevents you from being liable should a passenger or bystander be injured from your off-road driving. Bodily injury liability coverage pays for medical expenses and related costs if you injure someone else.
  • Property damage liability coverage: Property damage is another major risk of off-road driving. You should have coverage that will handle the costs if you damage someone’s home, yard, vehicle, or other property.
  • Collision coverage: You should get a policy that covers off-road collision damage. Collision insurance covers repairs to your own vehicle if you get into an accident with another motorist while driving off-road.
  • Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car that does not result from an accident. For example, comprehensive insurance might kick in if a tree branch falls on your car or your off-road vehicle is stolen or subject to vandalism.

How Does Off-Road Car Insurance Work?

Off-roading insurance is specialized auto insurance that covers vehicles drivers can operate off traditional, paved roads. This type of insurance can include coverage for rugged vehicles designed to handle off-road terrain, like Jeeps or trucks, as well as specialized off-road vehicles, like all-terrain vehicles or golf carts.

Just like with regular car insurance, rules and regulations about off-roading insurance can vary depending on where you live. For example, if you don’t carry off-roading or ATV insurance in Pennsylvania, you could be subject to a fine of up to $300. In other states, off-roading insurance is optional—but still a good idea since it can help protect you in case of an accident.

Is Off-Roading Insurance Expensive?

The cost of off-roading insurance coverage depends on what type of vehicle you drive and other personal factors, like your driving history.

Purchasing stand-alone off-roading insurance tends to be more affordable than a traditional auto insurance policy since insurers know that you’re probably not driving off-road every day. That said, you’ll likely need to purchase a conventional auto insurance policy in addition to an off-road policy if you plan to drive your vehicle on regular roads.

Woman standing in her 4x4 car

Pick the Right Vehicle

You know how certain vehicles are cheaper to insure than others? For example, an SUV from a popular manufacturer is more affordable than a convertible sports car. The same goes for off-road vehicles.

This means an insurance premium for your brand-new Ford Bronco Raptor may be sky-high, but coverage for a few years old Honda Pilot will be much more affordable. When you’re thinking about insurance, remember to think about your vehicle too.

You may even want to buy a newer off-roader equipped with the latest safety features. It should also keep your rates as cheap as possible, so you can enjoy as much off-road driving as you want without worrying about cost or risk.

Other insurance-related elements include alarms, low-mileage vehicles, older models, or a safe driving record. Consider buying an off-road vehicle with some of these features to save money otherwise spent on this type of specialty insurance.

Insuring Other Vehicle Types

Off-roading insurance policies also typically cover vehicles like ATVs, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, golf carts, and even dune buggies. Basically, if it’s a vehicle that you might drive on terrain other than a normal road, there’s a good chance that your off-road vehicle insurance will cover it. Insurance premiums for these vehicles may be cheaper than insuring a car or truck since they tend to be less expensive.

Depending on where you live, insurance for ATVs and other similar vehicles may be required or optional. Before you start exploring with your vehicle, you should make sure that you comply with any local or state regulations. And it’s always a good idea to double-check with your insurance company or insurance agent to make sure that your vehicle is covered.

Protect Your Vehicle On and Off the Road

Whether you’re heading off on a dirt trail or racing around the woodland, ensure you’re properly covered before you put your pedal to the metal. As always, when purchasing auto insurance, it’s a good idea to shop around. Compare auto insurance quotes with and have fun (and be safe) on your next off-road adventure!

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