November 27, 2022

Volume XII, Number 331

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What Has Four Wheels And Is An “Auto” But Not A “Car”?

A golf cart, at least according to a recent Eleventh Circuit ruling about insurance coverage for a minor driving a golf cart. GEICO Gen. Ins. Co. v. Gonalez, No. 21-13304.

The policy covered bodily injury arising from the use of a “private passenger, farm, or utility auto.” It defined “private passenger auto” as “a four-wheel private passenger, station wagon or jeep-type auto, including a farm or utility auto as defined.”

The court found that definition included a golf cart because it was “a four-wheeled, privately owned, passenger vehicle.” That remained true even when reading that definition in the context of “farm auto” and “utility auto.” A Florida state court had interpreted similar definitions to incorporate “a common—‘albeit implicit’—element”: “as an inherent design characteristic the capacity to be driven legally and safely on public highways.” Citing Florida statutes allowing golf carts on public roads and golf carts’ “ubiquitous” nature “on public roads in golfing and beach communities throughout Florida,” the court decided that implicit element was satisfied.

The court also distinguished a prior Eleventh Circuit case finding that a golf cart was not a “car” under an insurance policy. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Baldassini, 545 F. App’x 842, 843-44 (11th Cir. 2013). There, the policy defined “car” as “a four-wheeled motor vehicle ‘designed for use mainly on public roads.’” But there was no similar limitation in Gonalez. Thus, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that a golf cart was an “auto” under the policy at issue even if it was not a “car” under another policy.

Copyright © 2022, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 277
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About this Author

Patrick McDermott Insurance Litigation Richmond VA
Counsel

Patrick counsels clients on all aspects of insurance and reinsurance coverage. He assists clients in obtaining appropriate coverage and represents clients in resolving disputes over coverage, including in litigation and arbitration.

During law school, Patrick served as a judicial intern for the Honorable Michael F. Urbanski in the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia and for the Honorable Ricardo M. Urbina of in US District Court for the District of Columbia.

804-788-8707
Yaniel Abreu Insurance Lawyer Hunton Andrews Kurth Law Firm
Associate

Yaniel advises companies in complex insurance coverage matters. This involves analyzing the company’s risk profile to limit exposure and maximize recovery.

Yaniel handles insurance coverage disputes involving directors and officers, errors and omissions, cyber and commercial liability policies. He conducts comprehensive coverage evaluations tailored specifically to each client’s business operations. Taking into consideration the company’s risk profile, he advises clients on risk management and mitigation strategies. In addition to formidable preemptive efforts to minimize the...

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