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Barbie Jeeps and Golf Carts
Most kids dream of having their own "Wheels" so they can finally be mobile and independent. In their minds, this means going where you want to even if it's your friends' house down the street and around the corner. Years ago, this dream came via a bicycle for most kids.

Today, however, many children have turned in their bikes for motorized scooters, barbie jeeps or go-carts. Even very small children are provided electric motor driven plastic cars that can travel a mile or more on a full charge.

Unfortunately this mobility and independence creates insurance implications that many parents are probably not aware of. The primary problem lies with when you switch from people-powered vehicles to motor-driven ones. Both the ISO and traditional Texas homeowner's policies exclude liability arising from the use of motorized recreational vehicles off of the residence premises. That means the parents of a 5-year-old who runs his or her jeep into the street causing an accident may be on the hook for a serious claim where no policy will respond. The homeowners policy won't pay or defend because of the exclusion mentioned above. The personal auto policy won't respond because the vehicles are not autos or have fewer than four wheels.

For some homeowners, this could be a serious gap in coverage which doesn't have an obvious fix. If you have this exposure you should discuss it with your insurance agent to see what advice they have to offer. Otherwise, just make sure your children stay on your premises while operating these types of vehicles.

Another form of mobility for youngsters these days is the Golf Cart. Jacked up, loud music, loaded with as many friends as can hang on, these could be on the road to disaster.

The Texas homeowner's policy covers golf carts only while on the residence premises or while used for golfing purposes. That may or may not include while transporting the golfer and his or her equipment to and from the golf course on a public street. Most homeowner policies include golf carts for the exposures outlined above, if they are not subject to motor vehicle registration.

The Texas vehicle registration law requires golf carts to be registered if they are operated on a public road 1) at night (from 30 minutes after sundown to 30 minutes before sunrise); or 2) more than 2 miles to and from a golf course, unless operated within a "master planned community with a uniform set of restrictive covenants that has had a plat approved by a county or municipality" (Section 502.0071 of the Texas Transportation Code).

If you get past the registration requirement, the policy still only covers an owned golf cart for liability if it is being used 1) within the legal boundaries of a golfing facility to play golf or other recreational or leisure activity allowed by the facility, to travel to or from the parking area with the golfing facility, or to cross public roads at designated points to go from one part of the golfing facility to another; or 2) within the legal boundaries of a private residential community, including its public roads upon which a golf cart can legally travel, which is subject to the authority of a property owners association and contains an insured's residence.

In my opinion there are too many If's, And's or But's, the best way to cover a Golf Cart is to purchase a special golf cart policy.

We welcome any questions you may have regarding the above information. You can contact me at 281.570.2000 or visit our website at

This article was provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered in any way as legal advice.
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