You probably know by now that your home insurance policy in Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana is not intended to cover claims arising out of the use of an automobile. There’s a specific policy to cover automobile liability and physical damage caused by automobiles, and the coverage is designed to complement the home insurance policy’s coverage for non-auto-related exposures. However, as with many insurance coverage matters, things are not always black-and-white. Motorized vehicles are one area of confusion, and can cause some interplay between the home insurance policy and the automobile policy.
The most common forms of motorized vehicles that homeowners deal with, which are not typically considered to be under car insurance, are golf carts and lawn mowers. According to a recent article by Property Casualty 360, there has been a recent rise in golf cart accidents. Given this exposure, you should review your home insurance policy before you operate a golf cart. Standard home insurance policies will exclude any liability arising out of the use of a motorized vehicle, so it’s fairly clear that motorized vehicle liability should be effectively covered by the automobile liability policy.
Where the home insurance policy might create some confusion is in its definition of what constitutes a motor vehicle. The definition as describing a vehicle designed for use on public roads or subject to motor vehicle registration is fairly broad. It also adds additional examples, such as motorized golf carts, snowmobiles, motorized bicycles/tricycles, all-terrain vehicles, and other similar vehicles designed for use off public roads and off an insured location. This means you are not covered if you run ATVs through the desert or go snowmobiling in the winter. But what’s interesting about this exclusion is the silent inclusion of coverage for when you use the motorized vehicle at an insured location. Even though there’s probably minimal activity that you can conduct on your property in one of these vehicles, you are in fact covered for such usage while on your insured property.
In addition, the policy specifically defines the use of motorized golf carts for golfing purposes to not be a motor vehicle. Therefore, while golf carts are standardly excluded when you’re driving it off your premises, it is covered if you’re using the golf cart while golfing.
This might seem confusing, but if you try and consider what the intent of the policy is, you might better understand the coverage rationale. It’s probably understandable that any vehicle, which is essentially an automobile or motorcycle, is not covered by your home insurance policy. Additionally, any other motorized vehicles are also not meant to be covered (probably due to their inherently dangerous nature and use). But the use of a golf cart on a golf course is a fairly common practice, and excluding coverage for that may create a significant inconvenience for homeowners. After all, home insurance policies are intended to cover common activities and uses, for which golfing certainly qualifies. Therefore, even though it might seem a bit difficult to understand, the policy is really offering coverage for the most common activities and only excluding those that seem unusually risky, or those that are more appropriately covered on a different policy.