How To Insure Your ATV-May’00

We’ve been keeping an eye on a disturbing trend in some parts of the country. Several readers have sent newspaper clippings about “ATV Theft Rings” getting busted with up to 50 quads in their possession! You would think that thieves would be more interested in smaller objects like computers and cameras, but apparently many are getting adept at finding vulnerable ATVs, loading them in the back of their pickup, and taking them away to their hideout. And unlike automobiles which have to be driven on public streets, ATVs can easily disappear into the hands of a rider who only ventures out in remote areas or sticks around on his own land, giving the police little chance of ever catching up with him.

One reader recently sent in a harrowing tale about how his cherry ?89 FourTrax 250R was stolen right out of his garage in the middle of the night while he was at home! When he contacted his homeowner?s insurance, he was surprised to find out that all-terrain vehicles aren?t covered on homeowner?s insurance policies. ATVs, along with dirt bikes, snowmobiles and boats, are considered in the same category as automobiles and thus need separate policies.

Some, but not all, insurance companies offer a whole range of policys for motorcycles and ATVs, similar to those made for car owners. You generally have your choice of liability coverage alone, or liability along with comprehensive/collision. For those who haven?t bought car insurance before, liability pays for injuries and damage your vehicle may have caused to other people or property, while comprehensive and collision covers accidental damages to your vehicle. Most comprehensive/collision policies also cover fire, theft, vandalism and acts of God as it pertains to your ATV. Mechanical engine or frame failures are not covered.

We searched the country for insurance groups specializing in motorcycle/ATV coverage and found a company called Progressive out of Mayfield Village, Ohio (call 888- CYCLEPRO 24 hours a day or They?re the number one insurer of motorcycles in the U.S. and is the only insurance company endorsed by the American Motorcycle association. They?ve been writing policys for bikes and ATVs for over 25 years in 46 states (not in Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina or Washington, DC). They offer standard and specialized ATV coverage in the following categories: custom parts or equipment coverage, collision and comprehensive, personal injury protection, property damage, bodily injury, and scheduled medical benefits.
We contacted Progressive to see how much a very basic policy would cost for a typical ATV rider. As an example, we applied for a policy for a 40 year old Alabama resident who rides a ?98 Honda FourTrax 300 4×4. Choosing the lowest limits on liability coverage, and a $500 deductible on collision/comprehensive, we got a quote from Progressive for $148 a year. Rates are determined by your age, what part of the country you live in, and how much your ATV is worth. And of course you can custom-build your policy with a wide variety of different coverage limits and deductibles.
If all you want is ATV comprehensive/collision coverage (theft and crash damage), you may be in for a long search. Very few companies offer comprehensive/collision coverage without basic liability coverage which covers damages or injuries that your vehicle may cause to other people?s person or property. Even so, the most basic package of liability and comprehensive/collision can be quite inexpensive, though in some states such as California (see box), an ATV Policy can get pretty pricey.
You also have the option of setting up a policy with your own agent who already handles your car insurance. In many cases they can give you a discount when combining a new policy for multiple vehicles, such as motorcycles, boats and snowmobiles. The author checked with his Farmer?s insurance agent about coverage on his 1999 Honda FourTrax 400EX and got a quote of $122 a year with a $100 deductible, and that includes liability and comprehensive/collision.

Along with insuring your quad, there are some extra steps you can take to keep thieves away from your ATV. One of the reasons ATVs are a popular target is that many are stored in flimsy outdoor storage sheds or simply out in the backyard with a tarp thrown over the top. Big heavy chains and padlocks certainly make the task of stealing it more difficult, but not impossible. Watchdogs are actually one of the best deterrents against home burglaries.

Some ATVs are stolen during transportation in pickups or on trailers. Once again, chains and padlocks may do the trick, as well as some other devices specifically made to stop ATV thieves. When you park your pickup at a restaurant or hotel, always back it up to a pole or wall so thieves can?t open the tailgate, forcing them to lift the quad out if they want it. Don?t assume that they won?t strike in broad daylight- some thieves are incredibly bold.

When riding on the trail and stopping off at a restaurant, many quad riders leave their machines in the parking lot with the cars. Taking out the keys is the obvious first step to make sure it?s still there when you come back. You can go further by carrying a padlock in your fannypack and latching that somewhere on the drivetrain or wheel so your quad can?t be rolled away. If you?re concerned about a couple of guys lifting it up into the bed of a pickup, chain it to your buddy?s quad to protect both of them.
If, despite all your efforts, your quad does become a victim of thieves, give the police all the details as soon as possible and call your insurance company. According to Deputy John Mundell of the L.A. Sheriff?s Department, if you don?t have any insurance, the most important record to keep in case of ATV theft is the vehicle?s identification number (VIN). “Most of the nation is hooked up to a stolen vehicle computer network and we may be able to recover your vehicle on the other side of the country if we have the VIN. Another way to identify your vehicle is to etch your Social Security number into the frame somewhere.” Perhaps with a few clues, the authorities may be able to recover your precious machine and stop the thieves from stealing other rider?s quads.

Sample machine?1999 Honda FourTrax 400EX worth $5500

1. A 50 year old single male living in the state of Florida
Comprehensive/Collision w/$250 deductible
Bodily Injury/Property Damage Limits: $10,000/$20,000/$10,000
Policy cost per year: $124
2. A 25 year old married male living in the state of California
Comprehensive/Collision w/$250 deductible
Bodily Injury/Property Damage Limits: $15,000/$30,000/$10,000
Policy cost per year: $569
3. An 18 year old single male in the state of Alabama
Comprehensive/Collision w/$250 deductible
Bodily Injury/Property Damage Limits: $20,000/$40,000/$10,000
Policy cost per year: $640
4. A 36 year old married male in the state of Texas
Comprehensive/Collision w/$250 deductible
Bodily Injury/Property Damage Limits: $20,010/$40,010/$15,010
Policy cost per year: $125
5. A 42 year old married male in the state of New Hampshire
Comprehensive/Collision w/$250 deductible
Bodily Injury/Property Damage Limits: $25,000/$50,000/$25,000
Policy cost per year: $141

* Please understand that these samples are from Progressive Insurance and are based on rates as of 2/11/00, and while illustrative, may not be typical. Actual rates will vary based on driving record, vehicle, address and other factors. All rates are subject to change.

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