Hoverboards seem to be the hot gift this year, and I am sure Santa delivered plenty of them to homes all across the US. For those who have not yet seen the source of the latest craze, they are a two wheeled board that propels itself using a motor powered by a Lithium-ion battery. You steer by shifting your weight while on the board. This new craze is fraught with danger, read on to see what makes hoverboards so dangerous.
First and foremost, they are a fire hazard. The Lithium-ion batteries in the hoverboards have been catching fire and causing a lot of damage to homes and, in some cases, people. There have been reports of hoverboards burning people’s homes down while charging. People have also been injured when the hoverboard exploded underneath them mid-ride. The silver lining is that your home insurance will pay to rebuild your home and replace your belongings if it is burnt to the ground by one of these bad boys.
The real problem begins when the hoverboard itself catches fire or is stolen. Most home insurance policies (specifically the ISO HO-2000/HO-2011) will not cover a motor vehicle or motorized land conveyance, so any damage to the hoverboard will not be covered. A motor vehicle is defined by the policy as a self propelled land or amphibious vehicle. This includes Barbie cars, hoverboards, segways, power wheels, and any other motorized land conveyance you can think of. There are only a couple of cases in which the policy will cover such a motorized vehicle or motorized land conveyence. That is if they are not required to be registered for use on public roads and are used SOLELY to service an insured residence or designed to assist the handicapped. These loopholes are basically there to cover motorized wheelchairs and ride on lawn mowers/tractors used to maintain your personal residence only. These loopholes do not apply to recreational vehicles unless they meet the above criteria. So, if the hoverboard blows up while outside or is stolen from the driveway, you have no coverage for it under your insurance policy.
The problems only get worse when it comes to liability coverage. Let’s say that you are cruising around on your new hoverboard and you lose control. You then knock someone down on the sidewalk and they split their head open. Your home insurance policy will provide no coverage for this as “motor vehicle liability” is excluded from the policy unless the motor vehicle in question is not subject to any type of motor vehicle registration and is designed for recreational use off of public roads. While this little caveat may apply to the hoverboard, coverage will only apply if it is owned by the insured AND is being used on the residence premises being covered by the policy). So, while there is a tiny bit of liability coverage for accidents that may occur on your property, once you take it on the road or down the sidewalk you cease to have any liability coverage at all. This is a huge problem for owners and users of hoverboards as they are most often being used as a means of transportation from one place to another. I know many people use them as a means of getting around the city. None of these people have any coverage if an accident happens anywhere other than on your property.
So, the long and short of it is DO NOT BUY A HOVERBOARD!! They seem like fun but between the fire hazard and lack of coverage for the board itself and the damage you may cause while on it just make this latest craze worth passing you by. For more details on the coverage limitations surrounding hoverboards contact your insurance agent. Big thanks to MAIA for providing the information contained in this blog!