Snowmobile and ATV Trail Permits: What You Need to Know

ATV and snowmobile: get adequately covered to ride on the trails

Snowmobile and ATV trail permits for the next winter season are now available for purchase. Did you know that by buying your permit, you benefit from civil liability coverage? But that coverage has its limits! Our expert explains what it means for snowmobile and ATV enthusiasts.

Snowmobile owners already have civil liability insurance included with their trail permit. What’s new since 2016: ATV owners will also have civil liability insurance included when they purchase their trail permit.

This way, with their permits, snowmobile and ATV owners can ride on trails marked by their respective federations. They also benefit from civil liability insurance worth CAN$1,000,000 in the event of injuring another person during an accident on the trails or while transporting their vehicle. The permits are valid for 12 months and expire on the 1st of November each year.

Pierre Duchesne, Personal Insurance Coordinator at La Capitale General Insurance, answers some questions regarding this type of insurance.

How does this civil liability insurance cover snowmobile and ATV enthusiasts?

According to an Act respecting off-highway vehicles, all off-road vehicle owners must have civil liability insurance for at least $500,000. Since not all owners have personal insurance, by including this coverage with the trail permits, the Fédération québécoise des clubs quads (FQCQ) and the Fédération québécoise des clubs de motoneigistes (FCMQ) ensure that riders on their trails are in compliance with the law.

What are the limits?

I’ve noticed five main disadvantages in the federations’ coverage.

1. If you don’t have civil liability insurance with an insurer and you don’t renew your trail permit, you’re not covered. You would therefore incur significant financial losses if an accident were to occur when you’re not insured. Coverage with your insurer is renewed automatically so you would never find yourself in this type of situation.

2. Owners who already have civil liability insurance are obliged to take out additional coverage. They have the option of cancelling the insurance portion of their permit. They must fill out a form to cancel the insurance, which is available online on the FCMQ’s website. ATV riders can also keep both coverages if they wish to benefit from a higher coverage amount. In the event of an accident on the trails, this additional coverage comes in handy because the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) does not provide any coverage, meaning you’re at risk of being sued for a significant amount.

3. Owners without insurance who keep their federation’s coverage must consider that the limit offered is for $1,000,000 and that insurers now recommend taking out coverage for a higher amount. It’s important to understand that the SAAQ does not cover injuries that occur on trails. If you cause serious injury to a third party, you’re at risk of being sued for a significant amount, which is why you need to be adequately covered.

4. However, if you have your own personal insurance and decide to keep the federation’s coverage, you may have to make claims with each insurer in the event of an accident, which would complicate the process (one claim for injuries caused and the second for damages to your ATV).

5. Your vehicle is not covered for damages if you only have civil liability insurance. To be protected, you need coverage from an insurance company. You can then decide if you want to leave out civil liability coverage or maintain it to have a higher coverage amount.

So what do you recommend for ATV and snowmobile federation members?

We strongly suggest they keep the coverage they have with their insurer, and to look at the insurance included with the trail permit as additional coverage. This way, the chances of not having adequate insurance are significantly reduced.

What do you tell snowmobile and ATV riders who want better coverage?

Talk to your certified insurance representative. He or she will be able to tell you which risks you’re exposed to as a snowmobile or ATV owner.

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