I prefer to walk while playing golf instead of riding in a golf cart because I tend to concentrate better and it provides needed exercise. On the other hand, riding in a golf cart allows me to play more holes when there is not a lot of available daylight. Fortunately, since daylight savings time has officially begun as of today, I have more available hours in the day for my favorite sport. However, in the past few years, golf carts are not only being used on the fairways. Many people are using them for transportation to and from the golf course and for recreational purposes.
A current concern is whether a homeowner insurance policy covers these golf carts. Many people may be using a golf cart with the assumption that it is covered under their homeowner policy. However, some policies may only cover damage to the golf cart while it is at the insured premises and not for any property damage or accidents that occur off of the insured premises.
According to the National Golf Cart Association:
The golf car has been designated as a Low Speed Vehicle (LSV) as defined by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as subject to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 500 (49 CFR 571.500) having top speeds of between twenty and twenty-five miles per hour. Over thirty five states have passed legislation or regulations allowing LSV’s to be licensed and driven on roadways posted at thirty-five mph or less. Another name given to these vehicles is Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV).
In the Florida Statutes, there are 3 different classes of what we consider “golf carts”:
320.02 (22) “Golf cart” means a motor vehicle that is designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 miles per hour.
320.02 (41) “Low-speed vehicle” means any four-wheeled vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 miles per hour but not greater than 25 miles per hour, including, but not limited to, neighborhood electric vehicles. Low-speed vehicles must comply with the safety standards in 49 C.F.R. s. 571.500 and s. 316.2122.
316.2122 Operation of a low-speed vehicle or mini truck on certain roadways.—The operation of a low-speed vehicle as defined in s. 320.01 or a mini truck as defined in s. 320.01 on any road is authorized with the following restrictions:
(1) A low-speed vehicle or mini truck may be operated only on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less. This does not prohibit a low-speed vehicle or mini truck from crossing a road or street at an intersection where the road or street has a posted speed limit of more than 35 miles per hour.
(2) A low-speed vehicle must be equipped with headlamps, stop lamps, turn signal lamps, taillamps, reflex reflectors, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, windshields, seat belts, and vehicle identification numbers.
(3) A low-speed vehicle or mini truck must be registered and insured in accordance with s. 320.02 and titled pursuant to chapter 319.
(4) Any person operating a low-speed vehicle or mini truck must have in his or her possession a valid driver license.
(5) A county or municipality may prohibit the operation of low-speed vehicles or mini trucks on any road under its jurisdiction if the governing body of the county or municipality determines that such prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.
(6) The Department of Transportation may prohibit the operation of low-speed vehicles or mini trucks on any road under its jurisdiction if it determines that such prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.
320.01 Definitions, general.—As used in the Florida Statutes, except as otherwise provided, the term:
(1) “Motor vehicle” means:
(a) An automobile, motorcycle, truck, trailer, semitrailer, truck tractor and semitrailer combination, or any other vehicle operated on the roads of this state, used to transport persons or property, and propelled by power other than muscular power, but the term does not include traction engines, road rollers, special mobile equipment as defined in s. 316.003(48), vehicles that run only upon a track, bicycles, swamp buggies, or mopeds.
While many golf cart owners may purchase an endorsement to their homeowner policy for their golf cart, it is possible that it may not protect the owner for accidents that occur on the roadways. If you own a golf cart that you use for either operation on a golf course or for recreational purposes you will want to make sure that you contact an experienced insurance professional to discuss your use of the golf cart and to verify that you have proper coverage, whether it is under your homeowner policy, an endorsement to the policy or a separate automobile insurance policy.