Insurance for Off-highway Vehicles

As of April, 1, 2007, all persons operating OHVs on land they do not own or occupy must carry a motor vehicle liability policy. Coverage required includes third-party liability, accidental benefits and under-insured or non-insured coverage.

The minimum amount of liability insurance required is $500,000 as specified in the Insurance Act.

A person who owns an OHV that is designed or modified for racing purposes and uses that OHV solely for racing are exempt from this requirement. They must also be a member in a club (that is registered under the Societies Act or Companies Act) that has racing OHVs as one of its objects.

Questions and Answers

1. What is third-party liability insurance?

Third-party liability insurance covers you against liability imposed by law from your ownership, use or operation of the automobile (OHV). Bodily injury to a third party or damage to their property is covered up to the liability limit of the policy.

2. What is the limit I need to purchase?

You are required to insure the vehicle for third-party liability with a minimum limit of $500,000.

3. What type of insurance am I required to purchase?

You are required to carry third-party liability insurance under the Off-highway Vehicles Act and are also required to carry accident benefits, and uninsured and under-insured automobile coverage as required by the Insurance Act. If you have obtained a loan to purchase your OHV, your lending institution may require physical damage coverage on your OHV. This could be all perils, collision, comprehensive and/or specified perils.

4. What is uninsured and under-insured automobile coverage and why do I need it?

Uninsured and Under-insured coverage protects the operator of your vehicle if involved in an accident with a vehicle that is not insured. This coverage is required under the Insurance Act along with Liability and Accident Benefits.

5. How am I required to show proof of insurance?

When you purchase your automobile insurance policy on your OHV you will be given a liability or “pink” card. The operator of the vehicle is required to carry the card with them to prove the vehicle is insured.

6. My insurance company does not insure OHVs and I can’t find another company who will provide that insurance. What can I do?

Your broker / agent may not deal with an insurer who provides coverage for off-highway vehicles. This may require you to contact other brokers in your area to secure a policy. You may also want to contact a local OHV club for this information.

7. Do I need to purchase insurance if I don’t ride off my own property?

If you ride an OHV only on property you own or occupy you are not required to have third-party liability coverage.

8. I don’t drive an automobile so I don’t have previous driving experience, without that my insurance company won’t sell me a policy. Will all companies treat me the same?

No, insurance companies operate using different underwriting rules. You can discuss your options with your broker / agent or you can contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) for assistance. Their phone number is 902-1-800-565-7189 ext. 227.

9. My children who are under sixteen years of age drive ATVs. Do they have to purchase insurance or are they covered under my policy?

An insurance policy is purchased to insure a vehicle not a specific operator or driver, although insurance companies usually ask who will be operating the vehicle regularly to assess the risk. You would purchase insurance on the vehicle your child operates. Under the conditions and terms of a Standard Automobile policy owner’s form (S.P.F. 1) all operators/drivers who are licensed or eligible to be licensed, which means they are sixteen or older and have the skills to pass a driver’s test, and operate the vehicle with the owner’s permission may be covered under the insurance policy.

Drivers or operators who meet the qualifications in the province where they reside and operate the vehicles may also be covered. In Nova Scotia, OHV drivers/operators must follow the rules for each age group. For example, a youth under the age of 14 operating a snowmobile must have successfully taken the safety training course (by Oct. 1, 2008), must be under the direct supervision of their parent or guardian, and must only be operating the vehicle on private land or a designated trail.

10. Am I insured if I’m riding someone else’s OHV on their property and I have an accident?

You should always check with the vehicle’s owner regarding coverage on any vehicle you operate. And as the owner of an OHV, you should also understand the coverage on your own policy before allowing others to operate your OHV. Your broker / agent can explain any limited coverage on your personal property insurance policy that may apply if you operate an OHV you do not own.

11. I reside in Nova Scotia but my cottage is in New Brunswick and that is where I keep my snowmobile. Do I need to have insurance in both provinces?

The vehicle should be registered/licensed in the province where it is kept and the insurance rated for use in that province.

12. What is the Facility Association (FA)?

It is an association funded by all automobile insurers writing business in Nova Scotia. The object of FA is to ensure the availability of automobile insurance as required by law. All brokers / agents licensed to sell insurance in the province of Nova Scotia must have FA as one of their markets. If you can’t be insured otherwise, you may be directed to purchase a policy through FA due to your circumstances.

13. I’ve been told that I cannot purchase an insurance policy for my off-road motorcycle but have to purchase a road policy?

There is only one automobile policy (Standard Auto Policy (owners form)(S.P.F. No.1)) used in Nova Scotia for any type of vehicle requiring third-party liability insurance. Whether your vehicle is used off-road or on public roads the same policy applies. Some insurance companies will not insure off-road vehicles unless there is a requirement for them to be licensed/registered by law.

14. If I ride a dual sport bike, what type of insurance policy do I need?

Owners of dual sport vehicles are required to purchase an automobile policy because the vehicle is registered and used on public roads. This policy must have the minimum mandatory coverage required by law:

  • third-party liability,
  • accident benefits, and
  • uninsured and underinsured automobile coverage.
15. My child races motorcross but I can’t purchase insurance for her. Is it illegal for her to ride?

An insurance policy is purchased on the vehicle; not the driver, however, operating a vehicle in any race or speed test invalidates insurance coverage. Anyone riding an OHV solely for competition where speed is used for determining success cannot purchase liability insurance. Those who ride OHVs in such competitions can be exempted from the requirement for insurance if they meet the following conditions:
  • they are a member of a club that is registered and in good standing under the Societies Act or the Companies Act of Nova Scotia;
  • the club they belong to has racing OHVs as one of its objects;
  • they are a member in good standing with the club and hold a valid membership card; and
  • the machine they ride is designed or modified for racing purposes and used solely for that purpose.