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Do I have to buy insurance for my snowmobile?

The majority of U.S. states do not require insurance coverage for snowmobiles. However, insurance is readily available and is certainly something to consider when purchasing and operating a seasonal recreational vehicle such as a snowmobile.

A snowmobile is a large investment for most people, with the cost of a new vehicle averaging $8450 in 2011. More than 1.5 million snowmobiles are registered in the United States and another 600 thousand in Canada. Each snowmobile owner rides an average of just over 1,400 miles per year so it’s probably a good idea to consider some kind of insurance considering the amount of use and investment value of a snowmobile.

Are there many snowmobile enthusiasts?

Snowmobiling has grown as a popular winter sport in many areas of the US and Canada. Presently, there are a quarter of a million miles of groomed trails in North America alone, and more than 3000 snowmobile clubs worldwide!

Why should I consider snowmobile insurance?

First, several states mandate insurance. While only a handful of them presently require insurance coverage for snowmobilers, several others are currently considering legislation requiring such protection.

You must have insurance in New York if you intend to ride on a public roadway or private property other than your own. In Vermont, proof of insurance is required for those driving on branches of the Vermont Trail System. Liability insurance is mandatory in Pennsylvania and South Dakota for all snowmobiles.

Insurance policies for snowmobiles are similar to those issued for automobiles and other motor vehicles. Even if you reside in a state with no mandatory insurance requirement, it is advisable to protect yourself and your property in case of an accident or injury, or damage to your vehicle or another person’s property.

What kind of snowmobile insurance coverage is available?

Like auto policies, snowmobile insurance provides liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage if your vehicle is involved in a collision, up to the caps on your policy. Some policies also provide for no-fault coverage, if you suffer injury or damages from a collision with someone who is uninsured.

Comprehensive and collision coverage pays you in the event your vehicle is stolen, or damaged in an accident not involving another driver, regardless of who is at fault. No-fault insurance also covers damages that exceed the other party’s coverage limits.

Another important benefit of many insurance policies is a roadside assistance plan. This is usually optional coverage, and is available for snowmobiles. It’s an especially good idea for times when your vehicle might break down or is stuck in snow, mud, or water.

How much does snowmobile insurance cost?

Insurance for snowmobiles, like motorcycles, can be very economical. Insurance companies base their premium rates on the number of miles a vehicle will be driven during any given policy year. So, insurance for off road and other recreational vehicles is often surprisingly very inexpensive.

For example, a basic snowmobile policy (for an average sized, used snowmobile vehicle) in New York State, is only around $75 per year which usually has 25/50/10 liability coverage limits. Progressive Insurance Company is one of the most well known car insurance companies to also sell snowmobile insurance.

As with other kinds of insurance, not all snowmobile insurance carriers offer the same coverage, and not all carriers operate in every state. It’s important to shop all available companies in your area to find the best insurance package for your needs.

How can I ride my snowmobile more safely and avoid accidents?

Safety is a major issue of the many national snowmobile groups and associations. Many accidents and other mishaps can be prevented if riders follow a number of common sense rules:

  • Don’t drink alcohol or take drugs before or during your ride
  • Be familiar with the vehicle or vehicles you ride
  • Be familiar with the trails and other areas you intend to ride in
  • Always drive at reasonable and safe speeds
  • Stick to areas and trails that allow snowmobiling
  • Stay off frozen lakes, ponds and other bodies of water you aren’t familiar with
  • Be especially cautious after dark or early in the morning
  • Check the weather forecast before beginning your ride
  • Always wear protective clothing and a properly fitting helmet
  • Don’t ride alone, or if you do, at least let someone know where you’ll be and when you’ll return
  • Learn some basic wilderness survival skills and always carry emergency supplies

Snowmobiling is a fun activity that all members of the family can enjoy, especially if practiced safely. It’s also important to remember that while snowmobiling can be fun, it is also a challenging sport requiring hard work. Snowmobiling challenges both mind and body and while riding, your body is affected by the sun, wind, cold, and the motion and vibration of the machine. These factors affect both the driver and passenger. Care should be taken to properly prepare your vehicle and yourself, so your winter rides are both pleasant and relaxing.

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