01 Aug

Holidaymakers putting themselves at risk by hiring quad bikes

Activity increasing in popularity but not covered by standard travel insurance policies

ABTA is warning holidaymakers of the risks of hiring quad bikes whilst on holiday this summer. People are being urged to remember that while these vehicles may be fun to drive, they are also powerful pieces of machinery that can be extremely dangerous. ABTA is aware that in Greece alone, there have been five incidents involving holidaymakers and quad bikes since June including, most recently, an 18 year old man who suffered a fractured skull and lost his sight in one eye in a quad bike accident.

Increasingly, holidaymakers are hiring quad bikes as a means to get around, often on main roads and in resorts, many without any training, road experience or proper protection. If they have an accident, injuries are often much more serious or life threatening for people who have chosen not to wear a helmet, even when required by local laws to do so.

Quad bikes not typically covered by travel insurance

Many standard insurance policies specifically exclude cover for quad bike usage, whether as a driver or passenger. This means that in the case of an accident, holidaymakers will be liable for substantial medical bills, especially if they require the use of an air ambulance to get them back to the UK. It is essential, therefore, that holidaymakers always make sure they are covered for any activities they plan to do whilst on holiday. Worryingly, three in ten (29%) people do not make sure their insurance covers them for activities before participating in them*.

Organised trips with a reputable provider the best option

Many tour operators offer the opportunity for customers to book organised off-road bike excursions through reputable agencies, which follow appropriate health and safety guidelines and include safety briefings. 

32-year-old Melanie Simmonds suffered serious injuries, following a quad bike accident whilst on holiday in Greece in 2010. After a series of operations, it took 14 months for Melanie to recover from the injuries she suffered, and she is keen to share her experiences so that others are aware of, and can avoid, the potential dangers of riding quad bikes.

Melanie commented: “The reason that we hired the quad bike was to save money on taxis as I was diving. One snap decision completely transformed my life. I could have lost the use of my legs or worse, my life. I think if I hadn't been wearing my camera on my back then I probably would have.

“My advice to holidaymakers is be aware that quad bikes are heavy and dangerous. They are difficult to control and not very safe to use on roads. One big thing that I’ve also learnt is that you must ALWAYS know what your insurance covers you for. As it turned out I wasn't covered for quad bikes because I never expected to be using one. Value your life and your safety because accidents can happen to anyone and your life can change in an instant.”

Nikki White, Director of Destinations and Sustainability at ABTA, said: “Quad biking can be a fun and memorable holiday experience as part of an off-road excursion with a reputable company. However, it can also be extremely high risk to hire a quad bike as a means of transport to get around resorts and to use on main roads. They may look easy and fun to drive but the reality is they are powerful vehicles that demand driving expertise and proper protection to be used safely.”

Tips for holidaymakers

  • Check your insurance – you may not be covered to hire a quad bike
  • Always wear a protective helmet 
  • Always wear appropriate clothing and footwear
  • Stick to enjoying quad biking as part of an organised off-road excursion and don’t use a quad bike on main roads
  • Make sure that you are provided with the appropriate training to operate the vehicle safely
  • Check that the vehicle is in good condition – and do not ride it if you have any concerns
  • Watch your speed
  • Do not allow anyone to ride pillion.


Quad bike incidents

July 2016 – 18 year old is still in a medically induced coma after his quad bike collided with a lorry in Kavos. Greece.

July 2015 – 20 year old man left with life threatening injuries following an accident in Malia, Greece. He was not insured to ride a quad bike.

July 2015 – 21 year old woman is killed in Australia after her quad bike overturns on the beach. 

2014 – 18 year old woman is killed in Zante after losing control of her quad bike on a main road.

2012 – 45 year old woman in Ibiza dies after the quad bike she is riding as a passenger crashes into stone wall, not wearing a helmet, she suffers serious head injuries.

2010 – 26 year old woman suffered multiple breaks in both legs, a broken finger and fractured nose in an accident in Kefalonia, Greece after using a quad bike as a means of transport.

2009 – 20 year old man in holiday in Crete killed in the early hours of the morning after his quad bike smashed into an oncoming truck, he was not wearing a helmet.

1 August 2016

* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2031 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9 and 10 May 2016.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).