Hergott: Staying protected while out on B.C trails

Lawyer Paul Hergott discusses ATVing and insurance in his latest column

Going quadding? You’re not as protected as you might think.

I’m referring to insurance, not helmets and body armour.

Though the use of helmets and body armour does highlight the importance of insurance in that fun, recreational activity.

It really is fun. And we have an incredible trail system within a half hour drive from Kelowna. According to the Okanagan Trail Riders Association website, “The area encompasses over 85,000 acres of designated riding area and features 350 kms of planned trails…”.

You really have to see it to believe it. The riding trails are just wide enough for a quad, twisting and turning up and down and around our beautiful terrain. And for roughly the cost of one day’s lift ticket at a ski resort ($90.00), you have unlimited use of that trail system for the entire season.

Fun as all heck, but of course there are risks.

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Wearing protective gear and riding sensibly greatly reduces, but cannot eliminate, the risk of serious injury or even death. Only so much is within our control. Just like on our roadways, unexpected things can occur and we have no control over the riding behaviour of others who are sharing the trail system.

That’s where insurance steps in.

It’s difficult to avoid being insured on our roadways. Every vehicle on the road must be insured with a minimum of $200,000.00 liability insurance, and an insurance salesperson will easily convince you to increase that to 1, 3 or 5 million dollars.

Liability insurance does nothing to help you with your own injuries and losses if there’s a crash, but steps in to pay for injuries and losses you might cause someone else to suffer if you are at fault in a crash.

Your own injuries and losses will be compensated by liability insurance only if another driver is at fault in a crash. If you are the at fault driver, you likely have access to a basic level of disability insurance and medical benefits that is available to most everyone involved in a crash, regardless of fault.

What about those who break the law and drive without insurance? A minimum of $1,000,000.00 of “uninsured motorist protection” (UMP) insurance is likely available to you if that level of idiot crashes into you.

Things are very different when riding a quad.

The law requires quads to be registered. But does not require them to be insured.

You can choose to purchase liability insurance, protecting your own assets and income if you are “at fault” in an incident involving your quad. But another rider might not make that choice.

And unlike on our roadways, UMP has no application with quads. So if an uninsured quad rider crashes into you on one of those scenic trails, you will have to go after their income and assets to recover compensation for your injuries, medical expenses and loss of income.

Is a person choosing not to purchase liability insurance likely to have much for income and assets?

And that basic level of disability insurance and medical benefits I referred to earlier has no application with quads.

How do you best protect yourself?

The primary protection is a high level of care when operating your quad.

To protect your own income and assets in the event you cause injuries to someone else, purchase liability insurance.

The only way to ensure there is financial support in the event you are injured in a quad incident, whether caused by you or by someone else, is to purchase private disability and extended medical insurance. Find out what you might have available through your work. Then talk to an insurance salesperson about increasing your level of protection.

That protection will cover you not only when you are riding a quad, but however you choose to spend your time.

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