If you are heading into the desert on your favourite off-road route anytime soon, you might want to check your motor insurance policy.

While, you may have packed a tow rope, plenty of water and ensured a friend is coming in their own 4×4 to haul you out if your car gets stuck, the key thing to consider is whether or not your insurer actually covers your adventuring. Simply assuming that because you have a 4×4 with the capacity to go off-road your insurer will automatically cover you, is not the best way to go about it.

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What you need to do first is compare all the policies that do provide off-road cover and then choose the right one for you. For some policies, off-road cover is an optional extra such as Arab Orient Insurance Motor Plus that comes with an AED 350 excess and includes GCC cover. At RSA, off-road cover is provided on some of its products, such as RSA Comprehensive Cover – Standard with an AED 1,500 excess, and not on others such as RSA Comprehensive Cover – Saver Plus. This highlights how you need to be clear what type of insurance you want when you first arrange your policy.

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So what is the best way to ensure you are covered?

Firstly, check your existing policy. Some policies automatically cover off-road damage if your car has off-road capabilities.

The second is to be clear whether off-road cover extends to you. While some insurers cover off-road damage under their policies, there may be restrictions on that cover. These can include the age of the vehicle and only driving the car off-road within city limits or within a certain distance of a paved road. A policy may also limit cover if your car was used in an off-roading race or trial when any damage occurred. It means you not only need to be careful when you go off-roading, you need to be sure that what you are actually doing while you are out in the desert is supported by your insurance.

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Finally, don’t assume that getting off-road cover in place is just an unnecessary precautionary measure. Passionate off-roaders advise residents to have 2 cars – 1 for their home and work life and 1 for off-roading. Why? Because the vehicle doing the off-roading is going to spend a lot of time in the garage having repairs carried out. Ultimately if you want your car to stay dent-free, it might be wise to avoid off-roading altogether.