What happens if you’re in a snowmobile accident?

When the winter season commences, so do the snow sports. For some, this means pulling out their snowmobile and enjoying rides around their property or through the trails. What most people don’t consider, however, is what would happen in the event of a snowmobile accident. The answer depends, largely, on what type of insurance has been purchased.

Are you legally required to insure your snowmobile?

In Ontario, the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act requires all snowmobiles to be insured under the same type of liability policy as regular motor vehicles. There is only one exception: if the snowmobile is never driven off your own private property, no policy of insurance is legally required.

What does insurance provide?

Much like a regular motor vehicle policy, snowmobile insurance will provide for Accident Benefits in the event that you are injured in an accident. Accident Benefits provide compensation to the injured person for damages such as medical expenses and lost income. Provided there is snowmobile insurance coverage, these benefits are available even if the injured person was at fault for the accident.

Additionally, if you are injured due to someone else’s negligence (ex. if you are a passenger or pedestrian and are injured due to some fault of the snowmobile driver) you can commence a lawsuit to seek recovery through the snowmobile’s insurance policy for additional compensation, such as that for pain and suffering.

What if there is no insurance coverage?

Unfortunately, if the snowmobile is uninsured, there is no Accident Benefit coverage available to anyone who is injured as a result of that snowmobile. This significantly reduces or eliminates the amount of compensation available to the injured party.

If the snowmobile is uninsured, but an injury occurs while the snowmobile is being operated on the owners own property (as is legally allowed), the property insurance may provide some compensation for injuries sustained. However, there are a number of caveats to this. Most notably, this coverage is only available if the homeowner acted with “reckless disregard” to the safety of the injured party. As such, only children or visitors to the property can make such a claim. The homeowners themselves have no recourse for their injuries.

If a person is injured when an uninsured snowmobile is being driven off the owner’s private property (as is not legally allowed) there is likely no insurance coverage of any sort available to compensate the injured party.

For these reasons, it is critical to always insure your snowmobile, even if you never intend to drive it off your private property. Having proper insurance is the only way to ensure you, your friends, and your family are protected in the unfortunate event of a snowmobile accident.

Lauren Cullen
Written by

Lauren Cullen is an associate lawyer at McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP in London, Ontario. She practices exclusively in personal injury litigation and is a member of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA). Lauren completed her law degree at Western University in 2016 and subsequently articled at a top personal injury law firm in Toronto.