West Virginia Passenger injured in ATV Accident not covered under uninsured motorist statute

The West Virginia Supreme Court reversed an Order of Circuit Court of Brooke County holding that an automobile insurance policy excluding an off-road ATV from uninsured motorist coverage does not provide coverage where a passenger was injured while riding off road ATV.

Nationwide all-terrain vehicle crashes in 2006 totaled more than 500 deaths with 20 percent of that number being children. West Virginia, along with Pennsylvania, California, Texas and Kentucky reported the highest number of ATV deaths since 1982. Most of the deaths and injuries are to children resulted from them riding on adult-size ATVs.

The West Virginia Court recognized in the recent case that the primary purpose of mandatory uninsured motorist coverage is to protect innocent victims from the hardships caused by negligent, financially irresponsible drivers.

However, the Court denied uninsured motorist coverage for this accident where a passenger of an ATV vehicle, that was being driven off road, upholding the automobile insurance policy exclusion. The West Virginia Supreme Court found that the exclusion does not violate the intent and purpose of the uninsured motorist statute at West Virginia Code Section 33-6-31(b).

Since ATV’s are not required to have a license and registration in West Virginia, they are not required to have motorist liability insurance coverage pursuant to West Virginia Code Section 17D-4-2.

Citizens in West Virginia must not assume that their ATV will be covered under their Automobile policies and indeed the same exclusion found in this policy from State Farm Auto Insurance Company for ATV’s is common in most automobile policies written in West Virginia.

You should review your policy and ask your insurance agent if ATV’s are excluded and discuss purchasing coverage for your ATV.