Covered

locomotive
(Source: Pictures World)

Maybe not

In the words of the immortal Vinnie Barbarino, "I'm so confused!"

I received a renewal notice yesterday for my home-owner's policy from State Farm. Included with it was an "Important Notice" about my policy. Like the good neighbor State Farm claims to be, they wanted to let me know that there was a change in my coverage, namely a "REDUCTION IN COVERAGE." Perhaps I'd better pay attention to this, I said to myself.

included
(click picture to see entire endorsement)

Curious, isn't it, how adding an endorsement provides a reduction in coverage?

The main business of this endorsement is to define what is meant by a "motor vehicle." In the text above the actual endorsement, State Farm helpfully points out that the definition of motor vehicle now includes "personal assistive mobility devices (under 'recreational vehicle'), locomotives, and specified heavy equipment."

locomotive definition

Say what?! Locomotive? Oh, sure. I get it. Just in case I happen to own a locomotive, it is a "motor vehicle" as long as I don't have it parked in my driveway (an insured location). But, if I take my locomotive to the Palm Springs train depot and put it on the tracks to pull a trainload of my closest friends to Los Angeles to take in a play or see the new Disney concert hall, my locomotive is a motor vehicle — unless, of course, I happen to insure the train tracks, which would make it an insured location, in which case my locomotive would no longer be a motor vehicle.

There was a time when certain rich people had their own private railway cars, and perhaps their own locomotives — and maybe some still do — but surely the number of State Farm insured to whom this applies must be very, very small.

And then there's the matter of the "personal assistive mobility device." State Farm has classified it as a species of "recreational vehicle" — along with golf carts, dune buggies, snowmobiles, and the like. I went Googling for a picture of a personal assistive mobility device to see what one looks like. Oddly enough, the one picture Google found that fit the search criteria (see sidebar) shows the campus of my alma mater, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Since I take a passing interest in golf and play from time to time, I was pleased to see that a golf cart is considered a "recreational vehicle" which is considered a "motor vehicle" — but only when they are "off an insured location." So, if my golf cart is in my garage, it is not recreational vehicle, making it not a motor vehicle for purposes of my homeowner's insurance policy. But if I take the golf cart to the golf course, off my insured location (namely, my home), it is now a recreational vehicle, and thus a motor vehicle.

golf cart clause

No, wait! Clause g says that "a motorized golf cart while used for golfing purposes" is not a motor vehicle.

According to clause f, on the other hand, it appears that if my golf cart is being towed behind my car, it would be a motor vehicle. Towit:

f. any vehicle while being towed or pushed by or carried on a vehicle included in a., b., c., d., or e.;

Who would have thought that the concept of "motor vehicle" was fraught with so many complexities? I'm completely terrified to even look at Section II of my policy, to which this whole endorsement purportedly relates.

Who writes this stuff? Is this what they teach people in law school? Is it any wonder that the public holds less esteem for lawyers than almost anybody else, save child molesters, perhaps?