Article by: Don Magruder
Do you call them golf carts, golf cars or low-speed vehicles?
“The answer is real simple,” explains David Knowles from his insurance company office in Leesburg. “A golf cart has a serial number while a street legal golf car, which is technically referred to in the state of Florida as a low-speed vehicle, will have a VIN (vehicle identification number).”
According to Knowles, the real confusion begins with insurance coverage. He fears many homeowners are using their golf cart or golf car erroneously believing it is insured under their homeowners insurance policy.
Let’s talk about how Florida law looks at golf carts and low-speed vehicles (LSV). Under Florida law, LSV means any four-wheeled electric vehicle that has a top speed greater than 20 miles per hour but not greater than 25 miles per hour. LSVs may only be operated on streets where permitted by local jurisdiction and on roads where speed limits do not exceed 35 miles per hour. LSVs are equipped with many of the safety features of a car.
By definition, golf carts are manufactured motor vehicles designed for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes. They are not to exceed a speed of 20 miles per hour. Golf carts can be permitted on roads in certain jurisdictions, however, only in specifically designated and signed areas. Most golf carts do not have the safety features of a roll bar, seatbelt or safety windshield, so their areas of travel are more restrictive.
According to Knowles, the problem is many homeowners purchase an inexpensive rider for their golf cart on their homeowners insurance policy. In most cases, that policy does not protect them against accidents on the road. The policy often is very limited, covering only damage to the golf cart while at the home. Knowles said, “Some older homeowners insurance policies would at one time cover incidents going to and from the golf course, but most no longer do that.”
For golf cars or LSVs, Knowles points out that regular car insurance must be purchased to fully protect the homeowner. He is quick to note a recent rash of local golf cart accidents have probably put those people in financial jeopardy when they realized their homeowners insurance policy did not cover an accident on the road.
Knowles also pointed out that collision accidents aren’t the only risk. “Accidents also include people falling out of your golf cart and getting severely hurt,” explains Knowles.
Knowles recommends that owners of golf carts, LSVs and golf cars contact their insurance agent to verify they have the proper coverage. Owners of these vehicles should specifically discuss their use to evaluate their risk. One unfortunate accident could lead to huge liabilities. Knowles believes that many owners of these types of vehicles are not properly covered, and they should seek an insurance review from a qualified agent.