Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Rascally insurance conundrum

So here's a thought:

Aside from some zero's and commas, what's the difference between a Rascal and a Tesla? After all, they both have wheels and an electric motor, and can operate on city streets and in store parking lots.

Admittedly, only one is required to be licensed by the state, and its operator insured against potential liability. But where's the fairness in that?

Such is the question posed, albeit less benignly, by the Farm Bureau and State Farm insurance companies:

"They’re insisting that the drivers of motorized mobility scooters should be required to get the same insurance as car and truck owners."

This is in response to a case in Michigan that involves a paralyzed man, zooming innocently along on his motorized wheelchair, hit by an SUV. Apparently, he had no license to operate a motor vehicle, nor did he have automobile insurance coverage. 'Course, he didn't need to:

Wheelchairs, motorized or not, aren't considered motor vehicles under the law, nor could the gentleman have bought auto coverage if he'd wanted to: it's not available for Rascals, at al.

Now, if he owned a home or rented an apartment, his homeowner's policy would most likely have covered him (assuming that he had such a policy). I reached out to the PIA's Ted Kinney (whom we've met before) for his take. Ted told me that:
"I can’t speak for all policies but I know that the ISO homeowners policy provides both property and liability coverage for vehicles designed to assist the handicapped. I don’t know any auto insurer who will cover them on an auto policy. hese vehicles are not subject to motor vehicle registration.

It’s possible that this case might cause insurers to look at this issue if they think they can charge for coverage on an auto policy that a homeowners policy provides for free."

The key criteria here is "[t]hese vehicles are not subject to motor vehicle registration." Absent that, auto insurance just isn't available. Now, is it possible that some enterprising carrier will comeup with a special Hoveround policy? Maybe, but until then, it seems like the two carriers ought not to "bet the Farm" on winning their way.

[Hat Tip: FoIB Holly R]

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