Hoverboards: A “Hot” Insurance Risk

Back-to-the-future_sq-300x300[1]Did you grow up watching Back to the Future II, dreaming of the day when the cool, futuristic technology would be a reality? Part of that dream came true last year with the introduction of hoverboards. As with most movie-to-reality transitions, the reality is always a bit different and not as glamorous as the movie, and hoverboards are no exception to this rule.

Firstly, and very disappointingly to my Back to the Future-loving self, modern hoverboards don’t actually fly. More troublesome are the spontaneous fires that they became known for over the last year. Hoverboards lacked regulation at the beginning of their popularity so as demand increased, manufacturers cut corners to increase production and outsourced manufacturing overseas in order to keep up with sales[1]. Sadly, due to the lack of regulation, many problems have cropped up. Much like the popular warning “You’ll shoot your eye out!” for a kid with a BB gun, a less catchy “Your hoverboard will catch on fire!” is an equally important warning.  Even with all the volatility of these items entering the marketplace, I bet you know someone who received one within the last year. Thankfully, regulations have since been put into place to help curb the spontaneous fires.

Given their shaky start, what do we make of these self-balancing scooters and how do they relate to insurance? A license is not required to operate one, nor does the hoverboard itself require a license plate to “drive”. A hoverboard is considered a motor vehicle as defined by the standard homeowners policy. Because most of these policies limit coverage for these types of vehicles, this means there is no liability or medical payments coverage, although there may be an exception provided for the insured location. This is dependent upon whether a hoverboard is designed for use off public roads (i.e. sidewalks, drive-ways, etc). Since a hoverboard can be used on public roads, coverage is questionable.  And most personal auto policies do not provide coverage for hoverboards either.

I think fans and critics alike can see the obvious dangers associated with hoverboards – it takes a while to learn to use them without falling and even experts can take a tumble. So, if you’re considering purchasing a hoverboard, I encourage you to think your insurance options through. What do your state laws require? For example, California residents can only operate a hoverboard on public roads if in the bike lane. Will the hoverboard be used on your own property or away from your premises? What is the max speed of the hoverboard? The max speed can affect coverage options as well as where it is used.

Thinking about these questions may not be as fun as dreaming about being as cool as Marty McFly but it could help you prepare for your future!

[1] http://qz.com/567160/exploding-hoverboards-expose-the-total-lack-of-global-manufacturing-standards/

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