Does Auto Insurance Cover Off-roading?

Driving off-road on gravel, dirt, unmarked roads or fairly safe outdoors shouldn’t be confused with off-roading, which is an adventure or sport of driving a vehicle over rough terrain. A standard auto insurance policy won’t cover off-roading, even if you have a vehicle designed for going off-road like Jeeps or 4x4s. Not only your auto insurance claim relating to off-roading activities may be denied but also your policy may be cancelled because you are using your automobile for unintended purposes.

Standard auto insurance policies often outline “normal road usage” as description of coverage limits. So, you may not have coverage if you are overstretching the meaning of “road”. Again, it is important not to get confused here because even if you are driving on a gravel or dirt road once in a while, you are still on a road designed to be driven so your policy will pay for most damages in such cases, if you have coverage.

However, off-roading is the definition of not being on the road and it is a kind of challenge to make it through in hard to drive conditions, through water, mud, over boulders, up and down a cliff and rolling down the hill. You are deliberately pushing the limits and car insurance coverage isn’t designed to compensate policyholders who deliberately put their cars through tests, challenges and clear dangers. Most vehicles aren’t designed for this purpose anyway.

Saying that, automobile insurance policies, companies and regulations differ in many ways. Depending on your state and vehicle type you may actually have some level of coverage for off-road driving. For example, if you live in a mountainous region and own a Jeep, you may have coverage to drive off-road within reason.

Nevertheless, off-road driving may simply mean driving off the perfectly paved road and hitting unpaved but still reasonably safe conditions. On the other hand, off-roading can be categorized as an activity or sport on its own and much different from the definition of driving off-road. For example, driving your pickup truck off the road to get to the side of a river to offload your fishing equipment isn’t the same as driving it up to a particularly rough terrain for thrill seeking, adventure or for the fun of it.

You’d better be clear about this distinction when you are reading your policy or asking for special coverage. Your standard auto insurance policy still doesn’t cover driving on a specially designed to be testing off-roading track and may not pay for the damages if your vehicle is rolled backwards when you attempt a tough climb. There are many challenges with off-roading that won’t be acceptable to automobile insurers.

For example, you may have to ask your insurer if they would cover the damages if you drive into a pool of water with unknown depth before you do it. The answer would probably be “no” since your policy is designed to compensate for flood damages in an act of nature and not an act of dare.

Most policies specifically exclude any kind of races, challenges and dangerous activities. And if a vehicle is modified in any way to be used off-road, auto insurance companies must be informed of it. Some companies may refuse to insure such a vehicle after considering what is done to it. And some companies may agree to include an endorsement to cover the vehicle in its modified state. All depends on what is done to the vehicle and the company.

Since a standard car insurance policy won’t cover off-roading, you’ll need to look for companies that will either offer special off-roading coverage by way of an addendum to your existing auto insurance policy or sell you an entirely different policy. You should make sure to have it in writing when your agent confirms your policy covers off-roading. Such policies that include off-roading specifically can have the same coverages as a standard policy like Liability, Collision and Comprehensive.

And a standard auto insurance policy will not cover an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) so you will need to arrange a specific policy for it. Many companies like Progressive, State Farm and GEICO cover off-road vehicles. You need to discuss your vehicle details and requirements with your agent.

In conclusion, it is safe to assume that you aren’t covered for off-roading unless it clearly states in your policy that you are. Each policy comes with descriptions, definitions and exclusions that prevent sporting or adventure activities like off-roading. So, you should always check with your insurer if certain usage is included, even if you have a vehicle designed for off-road driving.