All terrain vehicles are a popular pastime for many Ontarians, young and old. Although these rugged four-wheelers are not allowed on most roads, riders are required to have the same kind of basic insurance that you need to drive your car, or ride a motorcycle. How much you pay in premiums generally depends on the value of the ATV, and starts around $300 a year.
Welcome to the world of ATVing. Every year, tens of thousands of Ontarians take to an extensive system of trails that is maintained by hundreds of volunteers at one of the more than 40 local ATV clubs across the province. If you’re new to this motorsport, there are a few things you’ll need to know before you start getting muddy. For one thing, you’ll need insurance.
What insurance do I need to ride my ATV?
Similarly to other off-road vehicles like snowmobiles, you don’t need insurance if you’re riding on your own property. If you want to ride more broadly the insurance requirements are exactly the same as you would expect for a car, motorcycle or snowmobile.
This is the coverage that protects you financially if you’re at fault for an accident and someone else gets hurt or their property gets damaged. Your policy pays for a lawyer if you need one, and also covers any money you are ordered to pay by a court. The minimum liability limit is $200,000, but we recommend $1 million at minimum. The difference in premiums is around $3 a month.
Accident benefits coverage pays costs above and beyond what is covered by government health insurance if you’re injured in an accident. It covers treatments like physiotherapy, massage and chiropractic. It also pays your salary if you need to miss work due to your injuries. There are other benefits depending on the severity of the injuries.
Direct compensation – property damage (DCPD)
If someone else is responsible for an accident that damages your ATV, DCPD coverage pays for your repairs, or to replace your ATV. There is no deductible for a DCPD claim.
This coverage exists to make sure that if you’re in a collision with someone else who is riding (or driving a car) without insurance, you still get whatever benefits you’d be entitled to through their liability coverage, if they had it. This coverage applies to a hit-and-run where you can’t identify the at-fault driver, but in that case it will only pay for injuries, not property damage.
Uninsured automobile coverage (described above) only gives you access to a maximum of $200,000 if you or a family member are injured by an uninsured or unidentified motorist. That’s why we always include family protection coverage, which can give you access to $1 or $2 million (matching your liability limit). $200,000 may seem like a lot, but if one or more family members suffer a serious injury, costs can quickly add up.
Optional collision and comprehensive coverage
To make sure you’re covered for theft of or damage to your ATV, regardless of fault, you’ll need optional collision and comprehensive coverage. For a new ATV, these coverages will account for just under half your premium, but are well worth the money.
What’s the best way to save on my ATV premiums?
If you’re over 25 and have a clean driving and riding record, ATV insurance is generally quite affordable, even if you choose to insure your ATV separately from your home and your car. Still, there are a few things you can do to save more on your ATV premiums:
- Bundle – If you insure your home, car and ATV all with the same insurance company, you can usually save 10-25% on your ATV premium.
- Ride safely – Having a ticket or at-fault accident on your record can add 20% to your premium for the first ticket, and even more for subsequent infractions.
What else do I need before riding an ATV?
Other than insurance, you’ll need a few other essentials before you take your ATV out on the trails.
These are the licensing requirements to ride an ATV in Ontario:
- If you’re 16 or older, you’ll need at least a G2 license to ride an ATV other than on your own property.
- If you’re between 12 and 16, you don’t need any license at all.
- If you’re under 12, you can’t get a license, and as per Ontario law you can only ride while under the “close supervision” of an adult.
Most insurers in Ontario won’t offer you insurance for a child under 12. Children between 12 and 16 can be included under their parents’ policy.
All ATVs in Ontario need to be registered with the Ministry of Transportation, and must have valid plates. Registration is a one-time expense of $38. You must be at least 16 years old.
Since ATVs are not road-legal, if you want to ride, you’ll need to become a member of your local ATV club to use the local trails. The Ontario Federation of ATV Clubs (OFATV) offers an umbrella membership ($150 a year) that includes the use of member club trails, however, not all clubs in Ontario are included. Weekly and daily passes are also available.
By law, you can’t ride an ATV without an approved helmet. So make sure you have helmets that fit everyone in your family that intends to ride.
Besides a helmet, it’s a good idea to have other protective gear, including goggles, gloves, a long-sleeve shirt, long pants and closed-toe shoes. Some ATV trails have quite a bit of tree cover, and the trees aren’t always trimmed.
It’s not a legal requirement, but since you can’t ride your ATV on the road, you’ll need a trailer to get your ATV from your home to the nearest trail. (You’ll also need an endorsement on your auto policy to cover the trailer. Talk to your broker.)
No special license is required to ride an ATV, but it’s always a good idea to get some training. The Canadian Quad Council offers a half-day ATV safety course that is perfect for anyone who is new to the sport, and can even benefit experienced riders. Cost is $125 for adults (18+) and only $85 for youth. Most ATV clubs offer additional discounts for their members.
Ready to ride?
If you’re ready to go ATVing but are still looking for a great deal on ATV insurance, then our brokers are waiting for your call. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know, make sure you get the coverage you need, and get you quotes from some of the best insurers in the province.