So, you’ve had a great time this summer – vacationing, boating, waterskiing, taking trips on the motorcycle and in the motorhome, or riding the trails on your 4-wheeler. Now that cooler weather has arrived, it’s time to put those toys away and think about winter activities. One wintertime activity that many Pennsylvanians enjoy is snowmobiling. It’s a favorite winter pastime for individuals, couples, groups, and families.
The first snowmobile, made over 75 years ago, was able to carry 12 people and was popular with taxi companies and loggers. The first 2-seater appeared in the late 1950s, and the snowmobile has been a popular recreational vehicle ever since. While zipping over new-fallen snow and appreciating the winter wonderland is the primary reason for snowmobiling, it’s important to know the risks involved, the safety precautions that should be observed, and the available pennsylvania snowmobile insurance that you should take advantage of.
According to the Pennsylvania State Snowmobile Association, snowmobile season on state parks and state forest lands begins December 11th (the day after the end of antlerless deer season) and runs to April 1st. Riding on state game lands, where permitted, begins January 15th. There are 3,600 miles of groomed trails in Pennsylvania that are available for snowmobiling.
There are specific regulations for riding on state game lands:
- Your snowmobile must be registered with the Bureau of Forestry’s snowmobile unit, and have the permit visibly displayed.
- Children under the age of 16 must take a safety course and have a safety certificate before they can operate a snowmobile off their parents’ property. The certificate must be carried with them at all times.
- All riders are required to wear an approved helmet.
- Liability insurance is required.
Although it is a fun, exhilarating winter activity, snowmobile accident statistics are numerous and sobering. Most accidents are the result of a collision with fixed objects, such as trees or large rocks. Sometimes they involve motor vehicles or other snowmobiles. Head injuries remain the leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries, which is why Pennsylvania requires all riders to wear helmets.
Snowmobile coverage is similar to automobile coverage. Liability insurance includes:
Property damage – Covers damage that you cause to another person’s property.
Bodily injury – Covers bodily injuries to others if you are at fault in an accident. This includes medical bills and possibly lost wages or legal fees if a lawsuit is brought against you. Uninsured motorist – Covers damage caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers.
Collision – Coverage that pays for damage to your vehicle if you hit another vehicle, if another vehicle hits you, or if your vehicle rolls over. It can also include coverage for safety apparel. Collision coverage can be required if your vehicle is financed or leased.
Comprehensive – Helps pay for damage to your vehicle not caused by collision. Examples include: damage or loss due to theft, vandalism, falling objects, fire, storms, flood and certain other disasters. Comprehensive insurance may also cover custom parts and equipment.
Other optional snowmobile coverage may include:
- Towed trailer coverage
- After-market parts and accessories
- Transport trailer coverage