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Florida court says auto insurer must cover golf cart accident, p3

We are wrapping up our discussion of a recent Florida Court of Appeal decision. An auto insurance company had denied coverage to a man who had been injured in a golf cart accident. The insured was at fault, but he had been driving a modified golf cart, one that could exceed the average 20 mph maximum speed and, so, could be driven on public roads.

The insurer denied the claim on the grounds that the golf cart did not qualify as an auto under the terms of the policy: It was not "designed principally for use on paved public streets and highways." As we explained in our last post, the court found that that definition was not in line with Florida's Financial Responsibility Law.

The law does not lump all motorized vehicles together. There are such things as "low-speed vehicles" that are allowed on public streets as long as the speed limit is no higher than 35 mph. The modified golf cart, then, may not have qualified as an "auto" under the insurance policy, but it did qualify as a low-speed vehicle under state law. State law trumps the insurance policy, so the insurance company should not have denied coverage.

The decision points out a few other things about modified golf carts that we feel our readers should remember. First, the licensing: Because a modified golf cart is a low-speed vehicle, it must be registered and insured, and it must be in compliance with safety standards before it hits the open road. And, only licensed drivers may operate modified golf carts.

The rules differ for regular golf carts, and we encourage anyone who owns or rents a golf cart to become well-acquainted with the laws and the insurance requirements before getting behind the wheel.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Florida Auto Policy Covers Modified Golf Cart: Court," July 22, 2013