Does insurance cover a crashed golf cart or riding mower

By Jeffrey Steele on March 29th, 2012

Ever wreck a golf cart, a riding lawn mower or a Zamboni ice resurfacing machine?

You may never experience this embarrassment while driving something that's not an automobile, but such accidents do occur. That raises the question of whether such conveyances can be insured for liability and damage in the event of a wreck.

Multiple variables often are considered in deciding how such crashes are covered.

Facts that will be considered include:

  • Who owns the golf cart, mower or other conveyance?
  • Where did the accident occur?
  • Is the vehicle required to be registered on public roads?

Madison, Wis.-based American Family Insurance offers one example of how insurers address this issue. Golf carts are insured on their own policies, according to a company spokesperson. Each golf cart is written on a miscellaneous vehicle policy, similar to the ones used for snowmobiles, motor homes and campers. While it's not American Family's private passenger auto policy, it is a type of auto policy.

Golf carts that meet the federal "low-speed vehicle" safety and speed standards for use on public streets with posted speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less can be written as private passenger autos, according to American Family.

Physical damage and liability coverage on riding mowers extends from the homeowner's policy. The caveats are that the mower must be utilized for service of the insured residence, cannot be used off premises and cannot be licensed for road use, American Family says.

It is possible for homeowners to obtain a homeowner's endorsement from the Insurance Services Office (ISO) for what is termed an "incidental low-power recreational motor vehicle," which includes children's toy cars. ISO has a standard form for such endorsements; it attaches to the homeowner's insurance policy, providing liability coverage for a child's miniature Jeep or other toy car.

The liability coverage kicks in if the child hits a neighbor's 2-year-old toddler, for instance. For the coverage to be in effect, this low-powered vehicle cannot travel faster than 15 miles an hour, and can't be a motorized golf cart or motorized bicycle, or a moped. And if it leaves the premises of the insured, the liability coverage is no longer in effect, leaving the parents of a young driver exposed if another child or adult was injured.

Endorsements referred to as "low-speed vehicle endorsements" provide physical damage coverage and liability insurance coverage for golf carts, and any four-wheel motor vehicle other than a truck that has a top speed of 20 to 25 miles per hour.

Jeffrey Steele

Jeffrey Steele is a Chicago-based writer who writes frequently on insurance topics.

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