Desert trip turned into nightmare… Will your off-road cover bail you out?

Off Road Car Insurance

Is there nothing that gets your adrenaline pumping as driving on sand dunes and setting out on an adventure off the beaten track? Then you’ve got to make sure your car insurance doesn’t let you down.

To make sure your car is covered against any damage while you’re in the middle of an off-road expedition, you must have a car insurance policy that’s off road compatible, with comprehensive off-road coverage.

What is ‘Off-road cover’?

An ‘off-road cover’ is a policy feature that either comes with your car insurance or is bought as an add-on cover at an extra cost. It essentially covers loss or damage sustained by an insured private vehicle while it’s driven off road. Insurers classify traveling on an unpaved or unmarked road as off-road travel.

Who offers it in the UAE?

Just about every insurer in the UAE gives you the option of selecting an off-road cover as a policy add-on. Some however do include it into their basic package. This additional coverage is subject to an additional cost on top of your policy. Note, you can purchase an off-road cover only with a comprehensive car insurance policy.

Does my car qualify for off-road coverage?

Insurance companies provide off-road cover exclusively for 4×4 vehicles so if you are thinking of going into the desert with your sedan, your car is not covered even if the off road cover is included in your policy. Make sure you check your coverage when comparing insurance policies at time of purchase.  Souqalmal.com provides those details on the site all for you as you look for your car insurance options.

What are the requirements for an Off-Road cover?

Some insurance companies will require you to have a safari license to be covered by the off road cover and of course you will need to be in a 4×4. A safari license is a license that certifies that you are fit to drive in the desert. You can obtain the license by taking the desert-driving course at selected driving schools, which consists of an interactive theory session along with practical training.

Do note, sometimes when you purchase a premium car insurance policy, the off-road extension may automatically apply to your policy but this would not hold if the insurance company requires you to have a license to drive off road.

Is ‘off-road’ in Oman covered just as ‘off road’ in the UAE?

If your idea of an ideal off-road quest means heading out to Oman, be aware – your off-road coverage may cease to exist. Most insurers only provide off-road coverage within the borders of the UAE.

Even if you’ve opted for an additional ‘Oman cover’ in your insurance policy, it’s important to investigate the details. The ‘Oman Cover’ might only cover loss or damage to the car while you’re driving on a paved road.

Is Roadside assistance & Breakdown recovery services included in my Off-road cover?

While off-roading, your car recovery options depend on how extensive your off-road insurance is. On average, insurance companies offer breakdown recovery or roadside assistance only if the car is within certain meters of a paved road. This distance from the paved road can vary from 5 meters to 1km. Again, make sure you check those details on Souqalmal.com while comparing your insurance options.

Which off-road activities are covered?

It’s notable that no insurer in the UAE will extend off-road coverage benefits to a vehicle that participates in a race, competitive event, stunt or motor sporting event. Hence, it’s important to check beforehand precisely which off-road activities are covered. For example, while one insurer may cover your car against damages sustained while dune bashing, others may not.

Are there other out-of-pocket expenses I should be aware of, even with an off-road cover?

Settling a claim resulting from an off-road accident might require additional expenses. Some insurers may ask you to pay a higher excess or deductible than the usual. In some cases, this could be double the standard excess stated in your car insurance policy schedule. The excess for Off-road cover can vary from AED 300 – AED 2,500 depending on the insurance company.

How do I make a claim for an Off-road Accident?

The first step towards making a claim is obtaining a police report. Once you contact the police, it is most likely that they will ask you to meet them at the nearest paved road landmark. It’s best to take some pictures of the damaged car and accident site for proof.

Next, you must contact the insurer. You can call the insurer’s toll-free number, send them an email or visit one of their offices for assistance. Make sure you inform your insurance company about the accident within 24 hours of the event.

After examining the damage, your claim file will be opened. At this stage, your insurer will ask you to submit the police report, a copy of your driver’s license and vehicle registration card. You will also be informed of any excess you need to pay and where to hand over your car for repairs.

If you’re an ardent off-roader, be sure to read the fine print in your car insurance policy and get in touch with the insurer to seek clarification on all the terms & conditions about the off-road coverage.