1 December, 2021

Understanding the risks of quad bikes and other all-terrain vehicles on farms

Quad bikes and other all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) have become increasingly popular on farms for the versatility and accessibility they provide.

ARGIS farm underwriting manager Peter Morsley says they have effectively replaced horses, and are used for a number of purposes such as checking on livestock, crops and fences in remote areas of properties, and mustering animals.

"With a spray unit attached they can also be used for ground spraying, and for moving materials around farms with a trailer attached, so they are a really versatile general-use vehicle."

Despite their popularity and versatility, ATVs are not without their risks.

The risks explained

ATVs are a leading cause of accidental death and injury on Australian farms.

Mr Morsley says that from a claims perspective, most claims involving ATVs are single vehicle accidents, where drivers have hit a stump or a pothole they’ve not seen when driving through long grass.

He adds that theft can also be an issue.

To reduce the risks leading to a claim, Mr Morsley says ATVs should be stored securely and operated with care. Accidents are more likely to occur when they are being ridden on slopes or uneven surfaces, at high speed or with equipment such as sprayers or trailers attached that can shift the weight of the vehicle.

However, the greatest risk is that of personal injury or death.

"About 30% of on-farm deaths are related to these types of vehicles. And about 60% of fatalities occur as the result of a rollover crushing the operator or a passenger," Mr Morsley says.

To ensure safe operation, he advises farmers and brokers to familiarise themselves with the safety information available from the relevant occupational health and safety authority in each state.

"There are really good resources out there for farmers and brokers alike to make sure they’re taking the appropriate steps to minimise the risk, detailing things like operator experience, maintenance of the vehicle, the environment the vehicle should be used in, and using the onboard safety gear and equipment correctly."

Mr Morsley notes that there has been a move away from open-style ATVs towards those that offer more protection and better safety features such as proper seats, seat belts and roll cages.

In part, this has been driven by new Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regulations that require all new and most second-hand quad bikes sold in Australia to have a protection device that holds the vehicle off the ground in the event of a rollover fitted as mandatory. 

Insurance cover for ATVs

From an insurance perspective, ATVs are considered farm vehicles, and Mr Morsley says models valued at less than $5,000 can be covered under ARGIS’ unspecified agricultural vehicles cover, without the need to be listed separately.

For more expensive ATVs – which typically range in value from $10,000-$20,000 – comprehensive cover, third party only, and third party fire and theft cover are all available.

Third party liability cover is also provided under the ARGIS farmer’s liability policy covering riders other than the insured or an employee, but Mr Morsley warns against allowing ATVs to be used by inexperience operators or for taking family or friends on joyrides.

"They’re not a toy and should be treated like any other farm machinery. In any other business you’d only let experienced operators use your equipment, not your family and friends," he says.

Here to help

At ARGIS, our farm insurance experts are always here to help.

For more information about insurance cover for ATVs, or for general enquiries about farm insurance, contact us on 1300 794 364.


SGUAS Pty Ltd t/as ARGIS Insurance acts for the insurer, HDI Global Specialty SE – Australian Branch. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determination, available at www.argis.com.au before deciding if it is right for you.