Insurance Requirements of OHV Vehicles
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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021
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Depending on the state in which you live, an off highway or off road motorized vehicle may require liability insurance. Owing to their sharply increased use in recent years, many states have initiated registration and inspection programs for off highway vehicles.
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As the name might suggest, OHVs are usually not legal for use on public streets, roads, and highways. OHVs are ridden mostly on public trails set aside for their use. They may also be driven on designated beaches, fields or in wooded areas as well as on private property.
Since there are not nationwide OHV insurance requirements the 4 requirements you need to know are:
- Be aware of your state’s regulations.
- Have at least the minimum insurance required.
- Have coverage in place to cover damage you cause.
- Keep your vehicle registered and inspected.
Vehicles in this category include snowmobiles and dirt bikes. Four wheel drive vehicles such as trucks, jeeps and other on/off road vehicles are also included in this category as are three and four wheel all terrain, ATV, type vehicles.
States that Require Insurance
In some US states like Arizona and Nevada, new laws require the registration, licensing, and inspection of off highway vehicles, but stop short of requiring liability insurance unless the vehicle will also be ridden on public thoroughfares.
Other states, such as North Dakota, Oregon, and Colorado, do require liability insurance to lawfully operate an OHV within the boundaries of their states.
North Dakota, like several other states only mandates insurance coverage if an OHV vehicle must be registered.
While only a few US States require liability insurance coverage, most Canadian provinces now require insurance for OHVs. The Quad Corral website, provides helpful information about OHV registration and insurance requirements in Canada.
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National Organizations and Associations
American Whitewater sponsors a webpage that provides helpful information for regarding liability regulations in most US states. This page is available as part of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council.
Most states require registration but in many, regulations fall short of requiring that off road vehicle owners must obtain legal proof of ownership, a formal title certificate. Some states also require and sell trail stickers, granting OHV owners the right to operate their vehicles on state owned lands and sponsored trails.
Off Highway Vehicles Defined
An OHV is any vehicle capable of driving on or off standard paved or gravel roadways. These vehicles are usually equipped with special large tires with deep open treads. Off-road vehicles will also have flexible suspensions. Commercial vehicles such as tractors, cranes, forklifts, bulldozers and backhoes are included in this category.
The Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, ROHVA, sponsors a website with helpful information for OHV owners and drivers. This organization promotes the safe use of recreational off-road vehicles and gives the following driving tips.
Always wear a helmet and other available protective gear. Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. Avoid public thoroughfares and other paved roads. Stay in areas designated for OHV use. Maintain a safe speed and exercise caution when turning or crossing slopes.
Never ride or drive when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Never drive unless you are properly licensed and over the age of 16. Don’t carry more passengers than your OHV is designed to carry. Know your vehicle and be familiar with the vehicle’s safety systems.
Insurance for Off Highway Vehicles
States and provinces that require insurance for your OHV will specify an amount of liability coverage that is necessary. In Nova Scotia for instance, minimum liability coverage of $500,000 (Canadian) is currently required.
Insurance requirements in your area will vary though most states do not yet require proof of insurance for off road vehicles such as ATVs, dirt bikes and snowmobiles, which will never be operated on public roads.
Licenses, registrations, permits, inspections and other state legal documentary requirements are an entirely different matter. Many laws and regulations requiring vehicle owners to obtain these documents and vehicle tags are rather recent.
The sport of off road driving has increased dramatically in recent years. By requiring the licensing and registration of OHVs, state and local governments are hoping to help maintain the safe and lawful operation of these popular vehicles. They are also able to generate significant new revenues by taxing these vehicles and imposing new registration requirements.
On/off road vehicles such as jeeps and trucks or modified highway vehicles, such as dune buggies will be required to carry at least the minimum required coverage in your state. Check with your state’s department of motor vehicles or state insurance commissioner for more information.
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