Have you ever dropped your kids off at school in your car only to see other folks driving in on golf carts? In Florida, this seems to be more and more common these days. As an insurance agent, one might wonder if these parents realize the insurance implications of their actions. Yes, here at DLR Insurance Group we are self-aware enough to acknowledge that someone who would think like this must live an exciting and riveting life! All kidding aside, from a protection standpoint, this is a gap in most people’s coverage that they either fail to realize or seemingly just don’t care about.
Surprisingly, more golf cart-related accidents and injuries happen every year than most people realize. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission:
- The researchers reviewed 2007-2017 data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. Findings show that an estimated 156,040 people received emergency room treatment for golf cart-related injuries, and the annual total number and rate of such injuries remained relatively unchanged over the course of the study period.
- The average rate of traumatic brain injuries among children who sustained golf cart-related injuries was 1.6 per 100,000—more than three times the rate incurred by adults (0.5 per 100,000) and around 46% greater than that of older adults (1.1 per 100,000). The overall injury rate among older adults climbed to nearly 8.1 per 100,000 in 2017 from approximately 4.8 per 100,000 in 2007—a 67.6% increase.
We know what you are thinking: “Who would be paying for those medical bills?” I will address that later in the article. First, let’s first look at this from two points of view: first, from a legal/HOA or local standpoint, and then from an insurance aspect.
Local laws and HOA associations can allow golf carts, but they usually have mandatory insurance requirements if you own one. The legal aspect is straightforward here in Florida. However, there are some laws that most folks do NOT know they are breaking when they use their golf carts that can have direct implications for whether the insurance policies pick up coverage.
Here is a summary of the laws from Florida state statutes:
- A golf cart can only be used on a county road that has been designated for use of golf carts.
- No person under 14 shall drive a golf cart—sorry, middle school moms and dads who let their kids drive the carts!
- All golf carts must have certain safety and mechanical requirements.
- There are also speed requirements for a street legal golf cart (addressed later in the insurance section).
The full Florida State Law can be found here (takes two minutes to read):
Where the law and insurance intersect is that if you are breaking the law, the insurance will not usually kick in—even if you have coverage! Please go back and read the law if you have not done so!
About 70-80 percent of our clients live in deed-restricted or HOA communities. In fact, Florida has more HOA communities than almost any other state in the country, second only to California. We usually get several phone calls as to why people in such communities need insurance coverage. The simple reason is that most insurance policies exclude coverage for golf carts. Some home insurance companies allow you to add golf carts to your home policy if they are operated within certain speed requirements. There is usually a nominal fee, but well worth it in the event of an accident!
There could be a HUGE issue for the middle school mom who is taking her neighbor’s child to school, in a golf cart, along with her children should there be a rollover, or blowout … or worse! That middle school mom becomes responsible for the passengers in her cart. Paying those 100 bucks a year or so is well worth the price in the event something happens.
Let’s note, there are some differences between street-legal golf carts that you can use on roads and community golf carts. The designation usually depends on the speed. If the golf cart can go over the rate of 35 mph, then they are classified as “street legal.” In some communities, you will need a policy that acts more like an auto insurance policy while in others you will need a more recreational type of insurance policy for lower mph carts. In either case, DLR Insurance Group can help you with that.