How Can I Be Getting Sued? Insurance Coverage for Trail Bikes/Dirt Bikes
A few years back, we had the pleasure of attending the AGM for an ORV Council in Halifax. The meetings concluded with a mixed-use trail ride in the beautiful St. Margaret’s Bay area with Dartmouth’s Liberty CC providing demos on different off-road vehicles.
We covered varied terrain from rocky, twisting paths through the woods to dusty dirt roads. Despite skilled drivers and a slow pace, we still had one upset, without damage or injury thankfully. We encountered other vehicles, a small car and a couple of horseback riders along the ride and other additional hazards we had to be aware of.
Why worry about insurance?
Easy going right? We all feel like we’re good drivers, cautious and respectful of road rules. We’d never drink and drive. So why worry about insurance? Maybe your unit is pre-owned and not of great value, so you are comfortable with taking the loss should your vehicle be damaged beyond repair. So, you aren’t interested in physical damage insurance.
In some provinces, you must purchase accident benefits separately, but in Nova Scotia, you receive accident benefits by purchasing a Got Toys? liability insurance policy. This can help cover a one-time permanent injury (for example loss of a limb) or an injury causing life-long disability.
If I am a responsible driver, why would I need liability insurance?
Accidents are unintended mishaps. Liability coverage protects you from third party liability claims. If you have hit another operator or pedestrian causing serious injury or death, are you in a financial position personally to compensate them fully? It is essential that you maintain liability coverages to protect your lifestyle.
There are many crazy situations where you could be held liable. Say you are driving through a field during a dry season and your unit sparks a grass fire causing considerable widespread damage. Even though you weren’t in an accident, your actions inadvertently caused property damage that you might be held responsible for.
If someone were to borrow your unit and take it for a ride and injure a third party, you could be sued as owner of the vehicle even though you weren’t directly involved in the incident. People will try anything including a claim currently presented where thieves stole a client’s unit and the passenger got injured in an accident trying to flee. You might call it karma, but now the thief, despite being charged, is attempting to sue the vehicle owner for injuries.
We’ve had a few tragic events in the last few years that resulted in a fatality. During a trail ride, one helpful person got off his machine to help guide people around the outside edge of a tricky area on a cliff. A rider coming up that path hit a bump and inadvertently squeezed the throttle, knocking the person off the cliff. Small incidents can have large and very terrible consequences.
Luckily, extreme claims like this are rare, but it certainly demonstrates how important it is to carry liability insurance. You might be surprised at how little it costs, compared to the coverage it can provide. In some provinces, it is mandatory to have liability in order to have the privilege of using beautifully maintained, multi-use trails like the one we rode on in Nova Scotia. It can provide protection and peace of mind for incidents that you may be responsible for; or others that are out of your control. It does not matter what your trail bike might be worth, but it is crucial to maintain adequate liability insurance.
Article by Melaney Bossaer, CAIB, Co-owner of Oasis Insurance and Canadian fiction author of “Beyond the 14th floor”. Oasis Outdoor Adventure & Sport Insurance Solutions Inc. is a specialty Insurance provider in Canada.