Racing Lawn Mowers

It’s been said that General Liability (GL) covers your liability for just about anything that the policy doesn’t exclude.*  When a statement like that is made there’s usually some wise guy who’ll ask something like, “Oh yeah?  How about racing lawn mowers?”  Kidding aside, few questions have caused more head scratching than when are things like bulldozers and other crawler tread vehicles, powerlifts, ATVs and yes, lawn mowers covered under a GL policy?  These examples are defined as “mobile equipment” in the RWC Insurance Advantage (RIA) GL policy if they are designed primarily for use off public roads.  Mobile equipment are distinguished from cars and trucks by how they are intended to be used and whether they are subject to certain state laws. The policy says; “land vehicles subject to a compulsory or financial responsibility law or other motor vehicle law are considered “autos.”  In other words, if you own or operate a backhoe that must occasionally use public roads to get from one part of a jobsite to another, most states will require it to be licensed for highway use.  That makes the backhoe an auto for insurance purposes.  There is no coverage under the RIA GL if it hits a pedestrian while being driven on a public road.  That accident would be covered under the commercial auto policy of whomever was operating the backhoe at the time.

If you have equipment that is permanently mounted on a truck, the truck with its equipment is an auto and would not be covered under the RIA GL policy.  Things like cherry pickers, air compressors, pumps and generators, welding, building cleaning and lighting equipment; all are part of the truck and covered under a commercial auto policy.  A word of caution:  some commercial auto insurers will exclude the operation of such permanently mounted equipment, so read your policies carefully.

You’re probably thinking, what about those racing lawn mowers?  The mobile equipment definition states “vehicles maintained for use solely on or next to premises you own or rent” are covered under the RIA GL policy as mobile equipment.  So, if the riding mower you keep in the shed behind your shop picks up a stone and shatters a window of a guest’s pickup truck parked in your driveway, no worries; you’re covered.  But, your RIA GL policy provides no coverage for your lawn mower if it is being entered “…in, or while in practice for, or while being prepared for, any prearranged racing, speed, demolition, or stunting activity.”  Therefore, if you want to enter your souped up, tricked out garden tractor in the Twelve Mile 500, in Twelve Mile, Indiana next Independence Day, you’re on your own if you cause an accident.

If you’d like to learn more about the RIA GL policy and what it covers, or doesn’t, call us at 1-866-454-2155, or visit us on the web at

(* This is a general statement regarding a common perception of third party liability coverage.  Actual policy language, including the insuring agreement in most forms, defines coverage more specifically.  Please read your GL policy to learn what is and is not covered.  We also recommend discussing your coverage needs with a licensed independent insurance agent.)

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