Insurance Beyond Cars: Insuring Off-Highway Vehicles and Watercrafts

Melissa Matzenbacher-Galan | Jan 10, 2024 | minute read

boat insuranceAuto insurance is required in most states, but it’s largely up to consumers to be sure they’re protecting themselves and others when operating off-highway vehicles and watercraft. Experience, training, weather, and road or water conditions can play a role in the degree of risks a driver accepts when operating an engine-powered vehicle. Accidents can be serious and can involve injuries or deaths creating liability risks for drivers.

Personal insurance policies are available for all types of motor vehicles and are worthwhile even when laws and regulations don’t require them. We’ll outline some of the vehicles you should consider insuring for your family’s financial protection.



ATVs are powerful and can accelerate to over 65 mph or more. You can drive them over almost any terrain which is what makes them so fun to ride. Enjoyable as they may be riders must consider the risks in taking an ATV for a spin.

ATVs have a high center of gravity causing them to tip or roll over. Most ATVs lack safety devices such as seatbelts, safety cages, and roll bars. Considering ATVs weigh over 600 pounds, the risk of injuries is great. According to the Consumer Federation of America, there were 139 ATV fatalities in the first half of 2023.

ATV insurance is available to cover the risks of bodily injury and property damage. ATV Helper states that the cost of ATV insurance ranges from $100-$1600 per year making it a lucrative purchase considering the risks.



Boating presents various risks that can cause damage to people or property. For example, a boat may hit another boat, pier, or sandbar causing someone on the boat or someone else’s boat to be injured. A boating accident may also damage someone else’s property.

The U.S. Coast Guard encourages boating enthusiasts to take boating safety courses that meet the National Boating Education Standards before heading out on the water. They report that 74% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator hadn’t received boating safety training. The most common incidents involve motorboats, cabin motorboats, and personal watercraft.

Homeowner policies only offer limited coverage for boats. Boat insurance policies are more comprehensive and are available for all types of boats. Policies may include coverage for accessories and fishing or skiing equipment. Most marine policies offer plentiful discounts making premiums highly affordable.


Personal Watercraft

The U.S. Coast Guard is equally concerned with accidents involving personal watercraft. The department reports about 40-50 personal watercraft fatalities and 600-700 serious injuries occur in the United States each year. About 18% of all boating accidents involve personal watercraft. The common issues that contribute to accidents include inexperience, alcohol, excessive speed, and reckless operation.

The risks and the seriousness of risks involving personal watercraft should inspire you to purchase insurance when owning or renting one. Personal watercraft insurance may cover bodily injury, uninsured watercraft operators, property damage, theft, and towing, and it can assist with legal fees if an accident occurs.



Snowmobiles were originally designed to transport people and supplies and handle emergencies in areas with regular amounts of heavy snow. After that, snowmobiles gained in popularity as a winter sporting activity.

Today’s snowmobiles are heavy and fast. Like ATVs, they can weigh over 600 pounds, and they can reach more than 90 mph. One study showed that there are 14,000 injuries and 200 deaths every year due to snowmobiling accidents.

Depending on the policy, snowmobile insurance may protect against liability, property damage, breakdowns, and rollovers.

snowmobile insurance



While motorcycles must be registered and often insured, they pose a unique set of risks. The National Safety Council reports that motorcyclists account for 14% of traffic fatalities, which is notable considering motorcycles represent only 3% of all registered vehicles.

Motorcycle insurance policies may include coverage for bodily injury, property damage, and coverage for the bike. Most motorcycle insurers offer plenty of discounts including discounts for wearing protective gear, motorcycle club memberships, safety courses, safe driving, and more.


Collector Car

Unlike passenger cars and trucks that depreciate, collector cars often appreciate. For that reason, a standard auto policy may not provide enough insurance to repair or replace the car if it gets into an accident.

Collector car insurance covers bodily injury, property damage, and protection for the car up to an agreed amount. Insurers may require owners to store their collector cars in a secure indoor facility.



Whether you use your RV or motorhome seasonally or as a full-time residence, insurance will protect against liability and property damage. The right insurance coverage will also protect your investment in your vehicle and may offer coverage for uninsured or underinsured drivers. RV policies usually include coverage for roadside assistance which is handy while traveling long distances.


Getting the Right Coverage for Your Recreational Needs

As enjoyable as recreational vehicles are, liability risks are present anytime you operate one. You can’t rely on your homeowners insurance policy to protect you from such risks. The right policy for the boat or vehicle provides the best possible protection. An umbrella policy will protect you even more.

To learn more about how a personal insurance policy can protect you and your family from a tragic loss, contact one of our licensed insurance agents at the Leap Carpenter Kemps Insurance Agency at 209-384-0727 today.

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About The Author

Melissa specializes in auto insurance, flood insurance, homeowners insurance, special event insurance, renters insurance, and watercraft insurance. She prides herself on knowing our markets inside and out.

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