On / Off Road Vehicles
Insuring your on road and off road vehicles.
Now that spring is here, your family is probably making plans to enjoy some of the many recreational opportunities that the state of New York has to offer. These may include the use of some form of “off road vehicles” such as a motorcycle, motorboat, ATV, RV or camping trailer. These items all represent a substantial investment and require that they be properly registered and insured. You may NOT assume that because they are your personal possessions they are automatically covered under your homeowners or renters insurance policy.
We have developed a summary chart (see below) of New York State registration and insurance requirements. If you’d like to discuss your specific coverages and liabilities, we’d be glad to help you assess your risks. We may be able to save you some money by bundling policies together for a multi-policy discount.
Types of Insurance
As with your auto policy, the State of New York typically requires registration and insurance to take your recreational “vehicles” onto public roadways. Also, the DMV has established minimums for required insurance coverages. You need to look at your situation and determine if you want to add higher limits and optional coverages to protect your assets.
Generally speaking, these are some of the available coverages.
- Liability – covers you if you are found at fault for an accident. You can be required to pay bodily injury and death claims and property damages suffered by others in an accident you cause.
- Uninsured – covers you and your property for damages and bodily injury if you are involved in an accident caused by someone else who doesn’t have insurance.
- Collision – helps you get your vehicle/boat repaired or replaced if it gets damaged in an accident where you are at fault.
- Comprehensive – covers damage from non-collision related incidents such as fire, theft or vandalism.
- Medical– covers injury costs from crashes and other types of accidents.
- Vacation liability – Like standard RV liability insurance, this will help with costs of others’ injuries or property damage. However, this coverage is meant to cover you only when someone is hurt or their property is damaged due to your RV being used for vacation purposes, as opposed to operation on the road.
- Roadside assistance – can help you get back on the road when your RV is suffering mechanical issues
- On-water towing – to return your boat to shore if it breaks down on the water.
Motorboats and Sailboats
Your homeowners policy ONLY covers your boat while it is on your property. As soon as you leave to launch and use your boat, you need boat insurance. This will cover you if you are involved in some kind of accident or incident in which the boat is damaged, another person’s property is damaged, or a passenger is injured. Also, if your boat is financed, the bank or finance company will probably require that it be insured.
The state of New York requires that you register both your boat and its trailer. The DMV does not require that you buy boat insurance, but it strongly recommends that you do so. And also all individuals born after May 1, 1996 are required to take a boater education course to operate a motorboat. (Info on the course can be found at the NYS Parks website.) Typically, canoes and kayaks aren’t considered “boats” and don’t need to be registered. They may be covered under your Homeowners policy.
The state of New York requires you to register your motorcycle and to insure it like any other motor vehicle any time it is used on a public road. All NY motorcycle registrations are for one year and expire on April 30th. You can terminate your liability insurance during the time the bike is off the road during the winter season without surrendering the plates to the DMV. However, you must reinstate the insurance before you put the motorcycle back on a public roadway.
Remember, that the minimum insurance requirements may not provide adequate financial protection for you, especially if you own highly valuable assets that could be lost in a lawsuit. If this is the case, you should consider purchasing higher liability insurance limits.
Also, a New York State resident must have a Class M or Class MJ driver license or learner permit to drive a motorcycle. To get a motorcycle license, you must first get a motorcycle learner permit.. The NY DMV website has information and application forms for drivers permits.
Recreational Vehicles and Travel Trailers
While your standard car insurance policy may extend to recreational vehicles, it is best to have RV insurance to help protect you from the specific risks you face with your recreational vehicle or travel trailer. Most auto insurance companies offer RV insurance to cover motorhomes and travel trailers.
Motorhomes are defined as vehicles that have living quarters permanently attached to the vehicle. To qualify for RV insurance, most insurance companies require that the following are permanently attached:
- Cooking appliances
- Heating and/or air conditioning
- Drinkable water supply system
- 110 – 125 volt electrical system.
A different RV insurance is meant to cover travel trailers and campers. Travel trailers and campers are non-motorized and are typically towed by a motor vehicle and used for camping. To qualify for travel trailer insurance, insurers usually require that the cooking facility and sleeping area are permanently attached to the trailer:
All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)
New York State considers ATV usage to be a high risk activity with a greater chance of accident or injury than driving a car because you do not need a driver’s license to operate an ATV in New York. Drivers younger than 16 years old need to contact the DMV regarding restrictions.
You must register your ATV even if you restrict its use to retrieving mail from the end of your own driveway. There are a few exemptions, however. You do not have to register if your ATV is used exclusively:
- Outside of New York State.
- To plow snow.
- For agricultural purposes.
- As transportation at special events.
You cannot legally operate your ATV on public property without liability insurance. You must carry a minimum of $50,000/$100,000 for death, $25,000/$50,000 for injury, and $10,000 for property. Many companies writing car insurance also write ATV coverage. But keep in mind that all insurance companies are NOT the same. Some providers may not offer some or all of the optional coverages you may need.
ATV insurance is often sold as part of a broader range of insurance. For example, several companies sell ATV insurance through their motorcycle insurance divisions, while other companies might sell ATV insurance through an Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) insurance division.
When getting an ATV insurance quote, think about which other vehicles you might want to insure even though these do not need to be registered with the DMV. Remember that many companies offer a significant discount for insuring multiple vehicles under one policy. Often ATVs can be insured along with your:
- Off-road motorcycle (dirt bike or mini-bike)
- Golf cart
- Dune buggy
- Motorized scooter or motor-assisted bicycle
An Umbrella Liability Policy
If you are an active family that has several of these vehicles and enjoy them with friends, neighbors and guests, talk to us about an umbrella policy to provide extra coverage over and above your Homeowners liability limits. In today’s litigious environment, this is a major source of peace of mind for those with valuable assets that could be forfeit in a major lawsuit for damages.