Automatically assuming your Rhode Island auto insurance covers off-roading can be a costly mistake. Your policy may cover some incidents, or none at all. This is because auto insurance is meant to cover normal use.
How Do Insurers Define “Normal Use”?
Normal use is a very broad term that can cause problems if you ever need to file a claim. Generally, it refers to commuting, shopping, and pleasure trips on public roads.
However, when you take your vehicle off-road, you are subject to many more risks your insurer won’t want to cover under a standard policy. It may specifically exclude off-roading or provide coverage for named perils, such as an off-road roll-over or collision. Nonetheless, every policy differs so you need to understand your coverage.
If you decide to take your vehicle on a timed, off-road race you will not have coverage under a standard policy. If you decide not to tell your insurer and they later discover you participated, they may cancel your policy.
We already mentioned that your insurer may exclude coverage for off-roading since it greatly increases the risk of damage. However, off-roading can also be extremely hard on your vehicle. This can weaken key components and make it less road-worthy later (yet another reason why your insurer won’t be keen to offer coverage under a standard policy).
Vehicle Warranty & Unapproved Modifications
Another important consideration is your vehicle warranty. Companies are very unlikely to cover a claim if you hit a tree stump and tear out the bottom of your car while climbing a steep trail. They’re meant to cover manufacturer defects.
Some off-road modifications can also void your warranty. It is always best to read through your agreement before you make changes.
Additionally, before you decide to install a lift kit and big, fat tires, you’ll want to run any proposed changes by your insurance agent. Unapproved modifications can lead to claim denial the next time you have a problem with your vehicle.
Off-Road Insurance Basics
Off-road policies can offer the same protections as a standard auto policy, but for extreme usage. Coverage includes compulsory bodily injury liability and property damage liability and optional collision and comprehensive.
Bodily injury and property damage liability coverage protects you from the costs associated with a lawsuit, medical bills, repairs or replacement of property, and a settlement if you’re found at-fault after an accident. State minimums do not provide enough coverage.
Comprehensive Insurance covers things such as hitting a tree, rolling over your vehicle, and body damage not caused by a collision. Collision coverage compensates you for damages to your vehicle when you’re at-fault. You may also be able to add a rider to an off-road policy for additional protections.
Policies can cover all manner of vehicles including those designed for off-roading such as ATVs and dirt bikes. However, most policies do not cover engine failure, unless it is caused by a covered peril such as a collision. They won’t cover damage caused by illegal activities or damage caused by normal wear and tear either.
Definitely give us a call before you use your vehicle for off-roading. We’ll review your policy and tell you whether you need additional coverage.