B.C. Brokers Stress Snowmobile Safety

As regulators in British Columbia consider changing snowmobile regulations, brokers who sell off-road vehicle coverage there will keep their own messaging consistent: it’s safer to have coverage.

In the wake of an avalanche that killed two snowmobilers in B.C.’s back country, the province’s solicitor general, Kash Heed, said this week that the province would revisit current licensing and insurance requirements for the vehicles. At present, snowmobilers only need a license and insurance if their vehicle will cross public roads.

But brokers familiar with snowmobiling have long encouraged that riders protect themselves with third-party liability coverage, in case they injure someone else while riding. “It’s just like car insurance,” says Brennan Garrecht, a broker at Capri Insurance.

Specialized coverage

The Kelowna-based brokerage has a department dedicated to all-terrain vehicles, and sells its own specialized snowmobile coverage that responds to crashes and third-party liability. That coverage—available to members of the province’s snowmobiling federation– would help airlift out a rider stranded in the backcountry, address physical damage and third-party liability.

The ICBC also offers snowmobile coverage, which includes accident benefits.

At Capri, Garrecht stresses specialized training for riders, like avalanche training, as well as coverage. Brokers there also encourage new riders to join a club, and ride with a group that has good information on conditions and safe trails. “It’s much safer to go with clubs,” he says.

At Kami Insurance in Vancouver, broker John Kami Takahara doesn’t see a lot of requests for snowmobile insurance, but when riders do come in, “we tell them it’s in their best interest” to get coverage, he says.

New safety framework

At present, the  province’s public insurer doesn’t have specific messaging for Autoplan brokers on snowmobile safety, “but that will change,” says Mark Jan Vrem. Last year, the Ministry of Tourism announced a new off-road vehicle framework that emphasized safety for off-road vehicles, including snowmobiles.

That framework requires off-roaders and snowmobilers to wear helmets and use lights during low visibility conditions, and calls for appropriately-sized machines, adult supervision and reduce speed limits for riders under 16.

“It is important to recognize that all recreation enthusiasts are taking some measure of personal risk when choosing to venture into remote and unmaintained areas of Crown land,” Jan Vrem said in an email to CI.
“We strongly encourage all recreationists to be well-prepared before heading out into the backcountry; this includes letting someone know where you are going.”

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