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Does car insurance cover off-road driving? Find an answer

Team AckoOct 13, 2021

Driving a car on natural, unexplored paths is called off-roading. People enjoy the thrill and freedom they feel on such scenic trips. Driving close to nature on concrete-free paths is refreshing and helps you rewind. But, sometimes off-road driving may also involve risks like car damage and injuries. You must be prepared to deal with such unexpected situations. So in this article, let’s find out if off-road driving is covered under car insurance and does it offer financial protection in case of damage or injuries.

Does Car Insurance Cover Off-road Driving

Does car insurance cover off-roading? 

Off-road driving is a risky adventure sport and thus may not be covered under a car insurance policy. Some insurers may even categorically add adventure sports as an exclusion to the plan. However, car insurance does cover accidents. And you must buy a Comprehensive Car Insurance policy to get Own Damage insurance (insurance against damage to your insured car) if you are looking for this coverage.  

What is off-road driving?

Off-road driving involves driving a car (designed specifically for this purpose) on natural surfaces like mud, rocks, sand dunes, snow, river beds, gravel, etc. Off-roading events are held in India and around the world. Some people indulge in off-road driving for casual fun, while some are professional off-road drivers that make a living from it.  

Types of off-road driving

Off-road driving can be of many types depending upon the intensity of the drive and the risk of the track. This is often a recreational sport of the following types.

  • Dune bashing

  • Desert racing

  • Rock racing

  • Cross-country

  • Raid

  • Green Laning

  • Mudding and mud plugging

  • Rock crawling

Risks associated with off-road driving 

As mentioned earlier, off-road driving is a risky activity. It can cause injuries and damage to the off-road vehicle. You need to first understand the danger involved and then decide if you want to indulge in off-road driving. Let's take a deep look at the dangers of off-road driving.

Error in judgement

Errors in judgement can often lead to accidents, and one must practice driving to minimise them. An error in judgement while off-road driving can lead to dangerous consequences. 

For example, say Akshay is driving uphill on a narrow, rocky road with a cliff on his right. He was approaching a hairpin bend (a narrow U-shaped turn) and miscalculated the acceleration he needed to provide in order to climb the steep slope. The car was dangerously slipping backwards. He quickly grabbed the brakes and made a balance with acceleration. If Akshay was not quick enough, the error in judgement while making a turn would have cost him his life.

Poor visibility

Off-roading involves exploring uncharted roads in all types of weather conditions. Driving on an uneven road in heavy rains, fog, snow, or at night in a dense forest can decrease visibility. You need to focus on driving the car while anticipating the path ahead.

Vehicle malfunction

The vehicle used for off-road driving plays a crucial role in this activity. Since you will be driving in remote areas most of the time, you might not receive instant assistance in case of a car breakdown. Learning the basic working of the car might help to an extent. But a malfunction would be a risky situation as there might be a delay in receiving help.

Which car insurance policies cover off-road driving?

In motor insurance, you will come across two major types of insurance plans — Third-party Liability Insurance and Comprehensive Vehicle Insurance. Out of these, the Third-party Liability Insurance will cover you for events related to a third party, for example, death of the third-party, injuries, damage to property, disability, etc. This policy will not cover any damage to the car, i.e. Own Damage (damage to the insured car).

The Comprehensive Car Insurance policy will help you claim damage to the car as it covers the Own Damage component. You need to get in touch with the insurer to understand if off-road driving is covered under your Comprehensive Car Insurance plan. 

Do I need off-road car insurance?

Buying car insurance is mandatory by law in India. So if you want to drive any type of car legally, then you must buy a car insurance policy. The government mandates drivers to buy at least the basic type of car insurance plan, i.e. the Third-party car insurance. However, this plan proves to be insufficient if Own Damage is not involved. 

To cover any possible damage to the car from off-road driving, you must buy a Comprehensive 4wd Car Insurance policy to get financial protection against various events like theft, damage from natural or man-made calamities, fire, total loss, accidents, etc.

Note - You can get No Claim Bonus during car insurance renewal if you did not raise a claim in the previous year. Opting for online car insurance renewal will further reduce the premium.

Top 3 safety tips for off-road driving

Ensuring safety will help you enjoy your off-road journey. Else safety concerns will suck the fun out of the trip in no time. Take a look at the following most important safety measures you must take to have a safe and fun off-roading trip. 

  • Limbs inside the vehicle - The warnings you got from elders if you put your hand out of the car is still relevant to off-road driving. You could be driving in narrow spaces or among dense trees. Putting your hands or feet out of the open car can lead to injuries. 

  • Secure the luggage -  People often travel with extra food, cooking gear, sleeping bags, safety gear, camping material, etc., while off-roading for a long time. It is very important that all these items are secured properly in place. If not, the constant uneven roads and sharp turns can dislocate the material, and someone could suffer injuries.

  • Rest and recharge - As much as it sounds fun to keep travelling for a long stretch of time, it is necessary that you take a rest during the trip. Resting will help you focus better, and you can avoid making errors of judgement while driving. Eat meals that will not make you nauseated during the bumpy ride. Consume enough fluids to keep hydrated, especially if you are off-roading in a desert.

Note, we assume that you will take care of general safety measures like getting a car service done before the trip, wear seatbelts while driving, or carry a first aid kit. Thus, basic precautions are not listed.

Also, read: 6 Things to Know Before Buying Insurance for A Sports Car

Frequently asked questions

In this section, we have listed some common questions related to off-road driving and car insurance.

I want to get my SUV modified for off-road driving. How will this affect my car insurance policy?

The car insurance company must be informed about any major type of car modification. If you fail to do so, your car insurance claim might get rejected. Car modifications for off-road driving could involve body lift, shackle lift, the addition of larger tires, axle lift, suspension lift, etc. These could change the characteristics of your car and thus have an effect on the car insurance policy.

What is the cost of off-road car insurance?

The cost of your car insurance policy will be determined by several factors—for example, type of policy, car's age, current market value, etc. You must buy suitable car insurance add-ons if you want to get additional coverage for off-road driving. And add-ons can increase the cost of your car insurance plan.

Is the car driver insured on off-road trips?

Just as buying a basic car insurance policy (i.e. a Third-party Liability plan) is mandatory by law, buying the Personal Accident Add-on for the owner/driver of the car is also compulsory. The sum insured of this add-on is Rs. 15 lakhs. This means the driver can receive Rs. 15 lakhs in case of death or permanent disability.

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