Golf carts are everywhere now, for rent from the friendly man on the side of the road, for sale in new stores up and down Highway 98, brought by renters, left by owners for their renters to use, crossing highways like maniacs, it's practically raining cats and golf carts.
This is a hot topic right now in the insurance industry because the risks can be enormous and many (especially vacation rentals) maybe don’t understand the chance they are taking. Here are a few thoughts and things to consider when insuring your golf cart or low speed vehicle.
The main distinction for insurance is whether or not it is registered for use on the road.
When unregistered, physical damage and liability may be included on your homeowners policy under the same kind of coverage that includes riding lawnmowers. The Florida statute describing golf carts says they are "designated and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 mph."
They can be driven on roads that have been designated for their use and which have a speed limit of 30 mph or less. A lot of neighborhoods in Destin, Miramar Beach, Sandestin, and Santa Rosa Beach allow unregistered carts to be driven around. If you leave one for a renter to use, make sure they know the rules:
Drivers shouldn’t be under 14 and the cart shouldn't be driven across roads with a speed limit above 45 mph.
Insurance companies have different restrictions on what all you can use it for so check with your insurance agent for more.
A golf cart can be registered as a Low Speed Vehicle when it meets certain requirements: (check here for the Florida DMV summary)
- Top speed greater than 20 mph
- Has a windshield
- Exterior mirrors
- Parking brake
- Seat belts
- Rear reflectors
- Brake lights and turn signals
- Is insured with state minimum limits
When you look at this list it sounds basically like a slow car with no doors. You may still think of it as a golf cart but from the DMV's, Insurance Company's, and the guy-you-ran-over's lawyer perspective, it's a car.
If you leave a registered golf cart or low speed vehicle for your renters to use that is basically the same as leaving them the keys to your Mercedes. Do you know anything about these people, their driving history, or how well behaved their teenagers are? Protecting yourself from this potentially huge liability would be complicated, would probably require assistance from an attorney, and would bug your guests so much they might give up and go somewhere else. We recommend referring your tenants to a rental company, who is much better equipped to deal with the risks and vetting process of each driver.
Consider these scenarios:
I use mine to putter around the house, pick up lawn clippings, check the mail, and nothing else
- Usually add it to the homeowners policy or if you don’t have a home, there is a golf cart policy that is cheaper than you may think) for unregistered golf carts.
I also do that but will drive it around the neighborhood on Halloween
- Even if you do have a homeowners policy, it's probably better to get a golf cart policy since you take it off the premises.
Mine is registered but I don’t own any other cars in the state
- Typically added to an auto Insurance policy as a Low Speed Vehicle but it is possible to insure them on their own.
Each case is unique and it's best to discuss your case with your insurance agent. A lot of insurance companies are changing their opinion of golf carts and low speed vehicles, some for the better and some for the worse, so things may have changes since you last looked at insurance.
Be aware of the risks and take action to protect yourself. Give us a call and we would be happy to discuss your insurance needs!
We also handle insurance for companies renting golf carts, scooters, and more.