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Snirt Run insurance policy doesn’t appear to cover ATVs

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BARNES CORNERS — The full insurance policy delivered by the Barnes Corners Sno-Pals snowmobile club to Lewis County officials Monday appears to have delivered bad news to Snirt Run organizers, but should remove any confusion as to whether they are insured for their annual all-terrain vehicle poker run.

The organizer of the event insisted, meanwhile, that the Snirt Run will go on as planned April 12 and that he is looking at other options for insurance.

“The event is not and will not be canceled,” said Gary R. Stinson, president of the Barnes Corners Sno-Pals snowmobile club and Snirt Run organizer. “We will obtain appropriate insurance.”

The first page of the current insurance coverage states that 240 snowmobile clubs are insured with the blanket policy, while also listing, “landowners and government entities who allow their land to be used as snowmobile trails.”

The Snirt Run, sponsored by the snowmobile club, is not conducted on snowmobile trails, but instead on roads within the county opened solely for the event.

The policy appears to exclude ATVs when it states “autos” are not included, and defines “autos” as “Any other land vehicle that is subject to a compulsory or financial responsibility law or other motor vehicle insurance law in the state where it is licensed or principally garaged.”

State law dictates, “You may not operate any ATV anywhere in New York State, except on your own property, unless it is covered by liability insurance. Minimum required coverage is $50,000/$100,000 for death, $25,000/$50,000 for injury and $10,000 for property damage in any one accident. You must show proof of this insurance upon the request of a judge, the police, or a person claiming to have suffered injury or property damage from your operation of the ATV.”

Jim Rolf, New York State Snowmobile Association trails coordinator, said, “The way I’m reading it, it doesn’t seem to cover ATVs.”

The policy is for snowmobile trail liability, he said, covering landowners and clubs while doing work, maintenance or developing trails.

“It covers all snowmobilers using the snowmobile trails,” he said.

Mr. Rolf and Mr. Stinson plan to hold a conference call today to get an official word from the agent, Anthony “Butch” Franklin.

Mr. Franklin did not return requests for comment.

Mr. Stinson said he has been operating his event believing he has been adequately insured.

“I absolutely thought I had insurance because of an email I got from Butch,” he said.

“A member of the club inquired about the policy,” said Mr. Stinson. He read the email, which is dated April 14, 2010, during a phone interview Monday evening.

“My club does an ATV ride each year in the spring as a fundraiser. It’s a single day event and we are looking for a general liability rider policy to cover us for next year. I’m going to need a quote and a specimen policy,” Mr. Stinson said.

Mr. Stinson said that at the time, the policy covered $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate limit.

“Butch wrote back five words, ‘Any racing or timed events?’” said Mr. Stinson.

“We told him no,” said Mr. Stinson, “and Butch replied, ‘This is covered under our current policy at no additional premium.’”

Mr. Stinson said he had no reason to question whether he was adequately insured until he was asked to produce a policy last week.

Lewis County officials, in an effort to improve safety and lessen damage at the annual event, asked for proof of insurance, as well as better maps, signs and barriers, before the county will declare the roads open for ATV use for the event.

If the current policy is deemed inadequate, Mr. Stinson said, he is already looking for another policy.

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