Do I need insurance for my OHV?

OHV car insurance is required if your vehicle is ever driven on public roadways in most states. Some states also require a special driver's license to operate an OHV.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jun 23, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • You must carry liability coverage to operate your OHV on public roadways.
  • It may be wise to consider insurance coverage for your OHV even for use on private lands where the law does not mandate coverage.
  • You should check your state’s law concerning additional OHV requirements such as special licenses.

Whether or not OHV (off highway vehicles) require car insurance depends on whether you drive your vehicle on private or public roads.

If it is driven solely on private land and is never taken on public streets, roads or parks, you are not required to carry insurance. However, if the vehicle is driven on public streets and roads, you are required to carry at least liability insurance.

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Some states in the US require you to obtain a driver’s license before being able to operate an ATV or off-road vehicle.

Besides the circumstances where the law requires liability protection, there are many reasons why someone would want to insure their off-road vehicle. These reasons include:

  • Protecting the vehicle – Since these vehicles are highly susceptible to vehicle theft, if an individual does not have insurance on their vehicle they have no protection to replace the loss. Not all homeowner policies will cover ATVs or off-road vehicles. It is always best to check with your homeowner’s policy to see what it covers.
  • Help to cover expenses – If someone is injured or hurt while operating the vehicle you may want coverage to help pay the liability or medical bills.
  • Protecting other assets – Proper coverage can protect not only your ATV but also your other property and assets. The best thing to do to determine if your off-road vehicle is worth insuring is to examine who will be using it, where it will be used and the total value to replace the vehicle if it was lost or stolen.

What is an OHV vehicle?

An OHV stands for Off Highway Vehicle and encompasses several types of vehicles that are driven off-road. Some examples of vehicles that fit the description include:

  • ATVs
  • Snowmobiles
  • Go Carts
  • Dune Buggies
  • 4-Wheel Drives
  • Airboats
  • Golf Carts

These off-highway vehicles are used on different terrains and in different areas of the country. Although 4X4s or 4-wheel drives are also driven on highways, they, too, are considered OHVs when driven off-road.

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What are some other names for OHV vehicles?

You may find these vehicles identified under other names as well. Some aliases may include:

  • ORV for Off Road Vehicles
  • UTV for Utility Vehicles
  • ROV for Recreational Off Road Vehicles
  • RUV for Recreational Utility Vehicles

In the state of California, according to the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation’s FAQ website, these OHVs are subject to California laws and are classified and identified by green and red stickers.

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Do I need a special license to drive an OHV vehicle?

Again, it depends on the state in which you live and/or in which you drive your OHV.

For instance, Arkansas does not require a special license to drive an OHV, according to the state’s DMV. Arizona, however, requires your OHV to have a license plate and OHV decal, which you can obtain when you register it.

In Connecticut, although you are not required to have a special license to operate an OHV, you are required to have a driver’s license if you find yourself on a public road, even if only to cross it.

Do OHV (off highway vehicles) require car insurance on public roadways and property?

YES! Anytime you operate a motor vehicle on public roads, even unpaved ones, you need to be carrying at least liability coverage. This is important because driving without insurance on public roads is not only illegal, it is an extreme risk.

If you were to get into an accident and cause injury or damage to someone else’s property there would nothing to protect you, your property or assets.

This puts you at a huge financial and legal risk. Even if you are just driving the vehicle a short distance on public roads you always want to make sure you have it insured.

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Do OHV (off highway vehicles) require car insurance on private property?

No, as long as the vehicle is driven on private land and never on public roads, highways or parks you do not need to insure your vehicle.

This is not always the best move for individuals. This leaves a huge liability and risk to themselves and their assets. While it may save them money short term, in the long run, it could end up costing them more than they thought.

Although coverage is not mandated, it just makes sense to have at least minimum liability insurance on your OHV. Here are some ways insurance coverage could protect you:

  • Coverage in cases of lawsuits for damages you cause
  • Coverage for the cost to fix or replace your damaged OHV
  • Coverage for medical coverage.  If you can afford to add medical coverage to your OHV plan, it can supplement your health insurance for injuries resulting from OHV accidents.

The best route is probably to get a quote from your current provider. They may cut you a deal for OHV insurance if they are already covering your main vehicle. Then, compare those rates with quotes from other car insurance companies.

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