It may be a bit of a stereotype, but as a longtime resident of Bonita Springs, Fla., I can assure you that it’s true: Floridians love their golf carts. Some of them rent carts at the Sunshine State’s many dazzling golf courses, while others purchase their own carts to use in their local neighborhoods and vacation communities.
In my community, we once had a neighbor with teenage daughters, and the family’s golf cart was equipped with a huge boombox. You could hear that thing coming, and when it passed the house, there would be six kids hanging off it with music blaring.
Golf carts can seem like cute little toys, especially when you see custom tricked-out versions, but things can—and do—go wrong. One of my more interesting claims happened when I’d been an insurance agent for just five years. A customer was playing golf at The Dunest Golf & Tennis Club on Sanibel Island, and he rolled his rented golf cart into a lake. He owed more than $2,000 for the cart—so he called me.
I didn’t think insurance was going to cover this one, but I kept thinking that there must be something I could do. So I called a superior and learned that it was covered, thanks to the customer’s homeowner’s policy with me.
Fast-forward 10 years, and it happened for the second time in my life. My neighbor rolled his cart into a lake, an accident that had a price tag of $4,000. And right away I could tell him, “No problem, that’s covered!” because he already had ORV (off-road vehicle) coverage.
I can’t have too much fun at the expense of these gentlemen, because I’ve driven in their tracks, so to speak. My own golf cart history is hardly unblemished.
One year, my wife and I went to Disney World in Orlando and discovered upon check-in that the hotel had filled up all the rooms. They wanted to make it up to us, so they gave us a “suite,” which was really a full-size house on Disney property. And it came with a golf cart.
I’d never driven one, but how hard could it be? We jumped in, and we had so much fun. Except we were going too fast. We turned a corner… and my wife fell out. I grabbed her hand, but then I was literally dragging her down the road. What was I supposed to do?! I had to let her go. Fortunately, she wasn’t hurt, and she’ll still ride with me in a cart when I play golf. I’ll ask if she’s holding on. Yes, she always is. No question.
We joked about that day, and everyone enjoys a chuckle about the hapless golfer who accidentally sends his cart into a pond. But driving and riding in golf carts is more dangerous than people might think.
Some golf courses roll across difficult terrain, which means that driving your golf cart is more akin to four-wheeling; you can be injured or worse if you’re not careful. So golf cart safety is paramount.
The other major issue: It’s a common misconception that if you have a homeowners policy, you’re covered for acts of negligence with your golf cart. The reality is that your homeowners policy, like the ones held by the long-ago customer and neighbor who drowned their carts on the golf course, will often cover you when you’re golfing. Most likely, it won’t cover you if you’re riding up to the clubhouse, tootling off to visit a friend, or allowing your teenagers to cruise the neighborhood.
Whether you’re a frequent golfer who routinely rents a cart from a local club or a homeowner who has made a golf cart part of the family lifestyle, talk to your agent about your specific coverage needs. Then you don’t have to worry — you can get out there and enjoy the ride.
Just watch out for water hazards and make sure to hold on.
Photo courtesy of august11944 via Flickr