Golf carts can get you in trouble even off the course

Villagers love their golf carts.  You see them all around The Villages; people use them to drive to church, restaurants, shopping and just about anywhere they need to go within The Villages.   And even in a lot of the other larger retirement communities around here, such as Water Oaks, Stonecrest, and the two Spruce Creeks,  golf carts are the primary mode of transportation.

The problem is, golf carts are not usually considered motor vehicles under state law.  They usually are not covered by your auto insurance; and most homeowners policies, even if they cover golf carts while being used on a golf course, don’t cover golf carts off the golf course.  Which can present a problem if the golf cart is involved in an accident.

Don’t underestimate the damage that a golf cart can do.  A golf cart moving at 20 miles per hour is doing just under 30 feet per second.  How fast is that?  That’s the distance a football player has to cover to make a first down: ten yards.  In one second.  That may not seem all that fast, but it is much faster than any human being can walk or even run,  it is faster than most bicyclists will usually travel, and given that a golf cart can easily weigh a half a ton, that represents an awful lot of weight moving very quickly.   And it can do a lot of damage if it hits a human being, or a bicyclist, or another golf cart or even a car.   And if it does, there’s an excellent chance someone is going to be injured, maybe severely.  And if someone is hurt, there’s a very good chance that the person driving the golf cart, and the person who owns the golf cart is going to be sued.  Bear in mind, if you own a golf cart and you let your minor grandchild drive it when they’re visiting for the holidays, and your grandchild gets into an accident, you are the person who is likely to be sued for the accident even if you weren’t driving the cart.

Once you are sued is not the time to find out you don’t have insurance coverage; I’ve had clients get into accidents involving golf cars and both their auto insurer and homeowners insurer refuse to cover the accident.  This means that the person who was hurt is going to go after the person driving the golf cart or the owner themselves. They are putting their own assets at risk and they have to hire a lawyer at their own expense to defend them.

There is golf cart coverage available from many  insurance companies.  It might be available from either your homeowners policy or your auto policy; but you need to ask your agent about this.  It is usually fairly inexpensive, and available as a rider or an endorsement.  But you need to talk to your agent about this; you need to tell them that you use a golf cart and that you want the coverage.

If  you use a golf cart in a retirement community such as The Villages, contact your insurance agent and make sure you have coverage to protect you just in case there’s an accident.


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