Golf Cart Accidents & Insurance Requirements in Florida
Many people in The Villages and throughout Florida who own a golf cart or low-speed vehicle are confused with Florida’s insurance requirements. Unfortunately, it is oftentimes not until after an accident or collision that questions about golf cart insurance and low-speed vehicle insurance are answered.
In Florida, low-speed vehicles are considered motor vehicles and are required to be titled, registered, and insured with Personal Injury Protection and Property Damage Liability coverage in order to be operated on Florida streets and highways, while golf carts in Florida are not required to be insured (although insurance, even on golf carts, is highly recommended).
There are several ways to identify if your golf cart is considered a low-speed vehicle in Florida. If you still have the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO), the middle of the MCO must contain the following language: “The vehicle conforms to Federal Regulations under Title 49 CFR Part 571.500.” The MCO or title of the vehicle will also indicate a body type. The body type of a low-speed vehicle can be two passenger (2P), four passenger (4P), six passenger (6P), or nine (9P) passenger.
Low-speed vehicles often resemble golf carts and a golf cart can be converted into a low-speed vehicle. To determine if a golf cart has been converted to a low-speed vehicle, inspect the vehicle or the title for a department assigned vehicle identification number beginning with “FLA.”
In addition, if a golf cart is registered with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, it should be considered a low-speed vehicle and Personal Injury Protection and Property Damage Liability is required.
Section 316.2122, Florida Statutes, provides that the operation of a low-speed vehicle, as defined in section 320.01, Florida Statutes, on any road is authorized with the following restrictions:
A low-speed vehicle may be operated only on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less. This does not prohibit a low-speed vehicle from crossing a road or street at an intersection where the road or street has a posted speed limit of more than 35 miles per hour.
A low-speed vehicle must be equipped with headlamps, stop lamps, turn signal lamps, taillamps, reflex reflectors, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, windshields, seat belts, and vehicle identification numbers.
A low-speed vehicle must be registered and insured in accordance with section 320.02, Florida Statutes, and titled pursuant to chapter 319, Florida Statutes.
Any person operating a low-speed vehicle must have in his or her possession a valid driver license.
A county or municipality may prohibit the operation of low-speed vehicles on any road under its jurisdiction if the governing body of the county or municipality determines that such prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.
The Department of Transportation may prohibit the operation of low-speed vehicles on any road under its jurisdiction if it determines that such prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.
On the other hand, golf carts are not required to be either titled or registered and are not required to be insured with Personal Injury Protection and Property Damage Liability. Golf carts cannot be operated on Florida roads, unless approved by local ordinance, and except in limited instances, do not require a valid license.
Florida law defines golf carts as “a motor vehicle that is designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 miles per hour.” Section 320.01, Florida Statutes. Furthermore, section 320.105, Florida Statutes, exempts golf carts from registration and titling requirements as long as they are operated in accordance with sections 316.212 or 316.2126, Florida Statutes. It is important to note that this does not prevent the owner of a golf cart from obtaining insurance (specifically, liability insurance, medical payments coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage). The insurance, however, is not connected to any titling, registration or sanctioning purpose.
Off-highway vehicles are required to be titled but not registered and are not required to be insured with Personal Injury Protection and Property Damage Liability. Section 317.0003, Florida Statutes, provides definitions for off-highway vehicles as follows:
(1) “ATV” means any motorized off-highway or all-terrain vehicle 50 inches or less in width, having a dry weight of 1,200 pounds or less, designed to travel on three or more nonhighway tires, and manufactured for recreational use by one or more persons.
(5) “OHM” or “off-highway motorcycle” means any motor vehicle used off the roads or highways of this state that has a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and is designed to travel with not more than two wheels in contact with the ground, but excludes a tractor or a moped.
(6) “Off-highway vehicle” means any ATV, two-rider ATV, ROV, or OHM that is used off the roads or highways of this state and that is not registered and licensed for highway use pursuant to chapter 320, Florida Statutes.
(9) “ROV” means any motorized recreational off-highway vehicle 65 inches or less in width, having a dry weight of 2,000 pounds or less, designed to travel on four or more nonhighway tires, and manufactured for recreational use by one or more persons. The term “ROV” does not include a golf cart as defined in sections 316.003 and 320.01, Florida Statutes, or a low-speed vehicle as defined in section 320.01, Florida Statutes.
(10) “Two-rider ATV” means any ATV that is specifically designed by the manufacturer for a single operator and one passenger.
As with golf carts, there is nothing to prevent the owner of an off-highway vehicle from obtaining insurance coverage. The insurance, however, is not connected to any titling, registration or sanctioning purpose. Off-highway vehicles are not allowed to be operated on Florida roads unless approved by local ordinance; a valid Florida driver license would be required at that time.
It is important for Florida residents to know that if they are required under Florida law to register a vehicle, it must be insured with Personal Injury Protection and Property Damage Liability coverage. Conversely, if the Florida resident is not required to register the vehicle, insurance may not be required but it is always recommended.
To download a brochure provided by the State of Florida, visit flhsmv.gov/pdf/mv/lowspeedvehicles.pdf