Most car insurance policies will cover a vehicle for “normal use,” which means ATVs, UTVs, dirt bikes, and other off-road vehicles would be covered in an off-road accident — as long as you have the right insurance.
But if you take your regular car off-roading and it gets damaged, your standard car insurance policy may not cover the claim, because off-roading isn’t normal use for your car. Here’s what you need to know about car insurance for off-road driving.
How does off-road insurance work?
Most big insurance companies offer special policies specifically for people who own off-road vehicles, but every company handles off-road insurance differently.
Some companies sell separate ATV/UTV policies, while others sell off-road coverage for ATVs and other off-road vehicles as part of their motorcycle policies. For companies like Progressive, you still have to list your off-road vehicle on the policy, but it is sold as a motorcycle policy (even if it isn't actually a motorcycle.)
Either way, you need specific insurance if you plan on regularly going off-roading. If you go off-road driving in your regular car and it’s damaged, your car insurance policy may not cover the claim. Off-road driving likely violates the details of your policy, so if you scratch, dent, or total your car while off-roading, you may have to cover the damage all on your own.
Check with your insurance agent to find out exactly how off-road coverage works with your insurance company.
Types of off-road vehicles
There are many types of off-road vehicles that may require their own insurance policies separate from your standard auto coverage, including:
There are some vehicles that can be used both as a traditional vehicle and an off-road vehicle. For example, some Jeep models, Rivian vehicles, and certain pickup trucks are sold (in part) based on their off-road capabilities.
If you have a vehicle that could be covered under a car insurance policy or an off-road policy, check with your insurance company to find out exactly how your vehicle should be insured.
Will my off-road insurance claim be denied?
Maybe. If you have a vehicle that isn’t designed for off-road use (like a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry) and take it into rough terrain or use it for off-road racing, expect to have any claims denied.
But if you are driving specific vehicles designed to be used off-road, like an ATV or a snowmobile, and you have off-road insurance, you should be covered for an off-road claim.
The best way to prevent having a claim denied or your insurance policy canceled is to make sure you have the right coverage in place. Your company may call off-road insurance something different; some companies sell separate ATV/UTV policies, while others sell off-road coverage as part of their motorcycle policies.
How do you insure an off-road vehicle?
Off-road vehicles like dirt bikes and ATVs need the same coverage options as any other vehicle, which means off-road enthusiasts need liability coverage at a minimum, or full coverage to pay for damage to your bike or other off-road vehicle.
However, you can’t just add a dirt bike, ATV, or golf cart to your regular car insurance policy. Most insurance companies offer separate policies for off-road vehicles (that can be bundled with your auto, home, or renters insurance for a discounted rate). An off-road insurance policy will usually include:
Bodily injury liability coverage: One half of what’s usually just called liability coverage, bodily injury liability (BIL) pays for injuries you cause in an at-fault accident, like if you crash into someone else’s vehicle while off-roading and they need medical care..
Property damage liability coverage: The other half of liability coverage, property damage liability pays for damage you do to someone’s property, like if you damage their vehicle while you’re driving, or you off-road on someone’s land and cause damage.
Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle caused by fire, falling objects, weather, vandalism, falling objects (like rocks or tree limbs), and animal-related damage — basically any damage to your own vehicle that wasn’t caused by a collision.
Collision coverage: Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle that is caused by a collision, no matter who is at fault. If you collide with another off-road bike or run into a fence, collision coverage will pay to repair your bike or off-road vehicle.
Do you need insurance for an off-road bike?
The law on whether or not you need to insure an off-road bike varies from one state to the next but, from a financial standpoint, you need insurance for any vehicle you own in order to cover any damage you cause.
An off-road bike needs liability coverage at a minimum — that’s what pays for any damage you may cause to someone else or their property while you’re riding off-road.
Drivers who don’t have liability insurance (or don’t have enough of it) will be expected to pay out-of-pocket for any damage they cause, which could cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Which car insurance companies cover off-road driving?
Most car insurance companies cover off-road driving, but each company takes a different approach to providing off-road coverage. Here’s how four of the biggest insurance companies cover off-road driving:
Off-road insurance coverage
Progressive offers coverage for ATVs, UTVs, and side-by-side off-road vehicles. The coverage is sold under their motorcycle coverage and you can include roadside assistance and coverage for personal belongings for an additional fee.
GEICO offers an ATV/UTV policy that can be bundled with your home, auto, motorcycle, or RV insurance. They do not insure three, six, or eight wheelers or ATVs with less than 150 cc's.
State Farm offers coverage for alternative vehicles like golf carts, dune buggies, ATVs, and snowmobiles under an off-road vehicle insurance policy. This coverage can be bundled with your other State Farm insurance policies.
USAA covers ATVs and UTVs through a partnership with Progressive. This means that you are buying the coverage through USAA (possibly bundled with your home and auto insurance) but that the actual coverage would be provided through Progressive. The coverage is sold as a motorcycle policy, but it is designed to cover off-road vehicles as well.