Zooming through a snow-blanketed forest on a snowmobile is a refreshing winter experience. But before you hit the starter button this snowmobile season, you must understand that you take on serious risks and responsibilities.
A fun ride can quickly turn tragic if an accident occurs. The financial damages from just one accident – damaged vehicles, medical bills, legal fees – could devastate your finances for years. Unless you have adequate snowmobile insurance online, you could be paying out of pocket for years.
Types of Accidents and Owner Liability
Operating any vehicle comes with liability risks, and, as a snowmobile owner and rider, you can be held responsible for injuries or property damage that you cause through an accident. Several types of snowmobile accidents can lead to owner liability.
Collisions With Other Snowmobiles, Cars, Or Objects
A common snowmobile accident is colliding with another vehicle, whether it’s another snowmobile, a car at a trail crossing, or a fixed object such as a tree. As the owner, you may be deemed fully or partially at fault depending on factors such as visibility, speed, and right of way. Damage to the vehicles and any injuries will likely be your responsibility.
Injuries to passengers
If you allow other people to ride as passengers and they are injured, you may be liable for their medical costs and other damages, even if you were not directly at fault for the accident. As the snowmobile rider, you have a responsibility to keep passengers safe.
Unsafe behaviors such as speeding, drinking and driving, ignoring signage or fences, and unpredictably swerving can easily lead to accidents. Engaging in these behaviors may constitute negligence, making you fully liable for any resulting harm.
Failure to properly maintain your snowmobile, such as worn tread, defective parts, or lack of fluids, can cause breakdowns, loss of control, and accidents. You may be considered liable if poor upkeep contributed to an accident.
As with other motor vehicles, liability claims for snowmobile accidents can be expensive. Medical bills, damaged property, lost wages, and legal costs can add up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Having adequate insurance is vital to protecting your finances should the worst occur.
Protect Yourself with Snowmobile Insurance
The right snowmobile insurance policy provides coverage for various losses and liabilities from a snowmobile accident. Most policies include options for:
A collision policy pays for any damage to your own snowmobile if you collide with an object or vehicle. You’ll typically have to pay a deductible, and then insurance covers the remainder of repair bills or total loss.
A liability policy will pay for damage or injuries that you cause to others. It’s an important protection to have in case you injure someone or damage their property. There are two main types:
- Bodily injury liability – This protection covers medical treatment, lost income, and pain and suffering if you injure or kill someone.
- Property damage liability – This coverage pays out to cover the cost of repairing or replacing another vehicle or object you hit.
A comprehensive policy covers damage to your snowmobile from risks unrelated to a collision, such as falling objects, vandalism, theft, fire, or weather events. When buying a policy, think carefully about the coverage limits you select.
This is the maximum payout you’ll receive for a covered loss. Account for the value of your snowmobile. Also, consider worst-case injury scenarios and property damage amounts just in case you need to rely on liability coverage.
Be a Responsible Snowmobile Owner
The best way to avoid accidents and liability is to be safe and responsible when using your snowmobile. Some of the following tips may not only save you from an accident but might also help lower your premiums:
- Take a safety course: Most states offer snowmobile safety classes that teach essential skills and laws that can help you avoid accidents.
- Maintain your snowmobile: Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendation to ensure your snowmobile stays in peak operating condition. Replace worn parts, check fluid levels, adjust components, and make repairs as needed.
- Ride cautiously: Operate at safe speeds, given the conditions. Keep a reasonable distance from other riders. Avoid maneuvers that could lead to losing control. Wear a helmet and proper gear.
- Stay alert: Scan trails constantly for hazards such as hidden rocks or ditches. Watch for animals that may jump across your path. Pay extra attention to blind corners or trail intersections.
- Follow laws and signage: Obey all posted trail signs and warnings. Stay on marked trails and avoid trespassing. Understand noise ordinances and speed limits. Never drink alcohol and drive.
- Practice good judgment: Match your speed to visibility and trail width. Avoid riding at night if possible. Refrain from riding on ice unless you’re certain it’s thick enough. Don’t follow other tracks blindly.
Enjoy Your Outdoor Winter Adventures with JMG Insurance Agency’s Help
Snowmobiling delivers an unparalleled connection with nature each winter. But inherently, it also brings liability risks that can financially devastate owners. Collisions, reckless behavior, and lack of diligence in maintenance or riding can lead to accidents and lawsuits.
Securing adequate snowmobile insurance online and focusing on safe operation are the best ways to protect yourself and your assets. But evaluating risks and comparing policies can be challenging, especially if you’re new to snowmobiling.
JMG Insurance Agency has extensive experience in snowmobile insurance. Let’s discuss your coverage needs and riding practices to build a customized policy for your unique situation. Contact us today at 1-844-304-7332 or online, and we’ll ensure you have the protection that gives you peace of mind on the trails to enjoy each ride.