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Trail Insurance

Trails offer people access to Ontario's great outdoors. Most trails or trail activity require some form of insurance for the user, the builder, and the landowner.

In Ontario, insurance keeps trails open.

Where to purchase permits, user, machine, landowner or trail insurance.

  • Permit - purchase a trail pass and receive coverage while you ride through the permit!
  • Single-Use Adventure - going out of doors try this single trip limited-time option from Thomas Cook.
  • Mountain Biker - talk to IMBA, they'll have you talk to Oasis.
  • Outdoor Backpacking/Hiking - try this package from our friends at Thomas Cook.
  • Best Trail Risk Management Practice - talk to Direct Bearing Inc.
  • Single-use member Based - support Mountain Equipment Co-op and get a deal on outdoor insurance.
  • Fear - got a machine and afraid of costs if you have an accident - talk to Oasis - they'll help you out!
  • Equestrian? join the Canadian Recreational Horse and Rider Association and you'll get more than your ride covered!
  • Municipality - join Intact Public Entities Inc. they know recreational product insurance needs.
  • Overseas Adventure? - well top up on coverage you are out of country! Blue Cross options

Status of Insurance for Ontario's Trails

Most trails in Ontario are volunteer-based and volunteer-driven. Trail organizations with paid staff for construction, maintenance and supervision, have volunteer boards of directors.

These boards have a duty of care over the trail. This means they are responsible for the risks persons take in operating and using the trail. If the risk of duty becomes too great, volunteers may have to withdraw their services. Without these volunteers, the trail system could break down.

Take our survey

The Ontario Trails Council with the support of the Ministry of Health Promotion has designed an on-line survey to gather and assess the level of insurance protection activity in the Ontario landscape today. Your input is vital in terms of determining future government supports and market actions in the provision of affordable insurance.

Understanding Risk Management

Trail organizations minimize their exposure to risk through proven trail management practices. These are management actions that minimize the possibility of damage or injury (e.g. signs, barricades, supervision), minimize the impact of an accident (e.g. first aid posts, rescue equipment), and transfer the liability to the trail user (e.g. disclaimers, user education).

In order to minimize these risks trail organizations pay for General liability insurance. This defends the trail organization in the event they are sued. If blame is assigned to the trail organization the insurance pays damages. In almost every case, general liability insurance extends to the defense of owners of land adjacent to and over which the trails pass.

Regardless of the outcome, every case causes insurance fee escalation. Regardless of the organization, what happens on a trail in Thunder Bay affects rates of trails in Cornwall, Windsor, Ottawa, etc.

In addition, the insurance industry has been under pressure for years. For a variety of reasons, notably and poor financial results, escalation in claim costs, the events of September 11, and a changing legal environment have all contributed to this increased fee for general liability insurance.

This situation hit ALL Ontario's trails

The result has been an escalation of cost to the point where some trail organizations and user groups can't afford it. Also, trails applying for grants from organizations such as government and charitable foundations have been put on hold pending either resolution of the overall issue or proof of insurance.

Current Status

OTC is examining a provincial user fee system that may, if implemented using its revenues to fund insurance and other trial operation costs. OFATV has negotiated insurance coverage packages for its members. OFSC has continued to negotiate coverage for its members at the best possible rates.

All motorized groups have revised member education, trail maintenance and user information packages in order to promote trail use safety.

The work plan of the Ontario Trails Council, and the Ontario Trails Risk Management and Liability Commitee is compiling trail management best practices from across the country and then reviewing and adopting those into a made in Ontario Best Practices and Guidelines Model.