You may remember them as the “self-balancing” scooters that made headlines last Christmas. What you may not remember is many of those headlines pointed out the dangerous side to these seemingly innocent novelties.
Almost immediately after their release, people reported malfunctions. Many of these products overheated and caught fire. Some even exploded. This posed a huge risk to consumers and their property.
In fact, there have been almost 100 reports of personal injury and property damage from hoverboards since they made their debut. Because of this, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently decided to recall more than 500,000 of them.
Here’s why this is happening, as well as what it means for you and your homeowners insurance policy.
Why Hoverboards are Safety Hazards
Hoverboards are fueled with lithium-ion batteries. And not just any lithium-ion batteries, but second-grade ones made overseas. Let’s put it this way: they’re not the highest quality batteries in the business.
Many manufacturers use these poor-quality batteries as a cheap way to source energy. Especially when building hoverboards.
Portable electronics such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops also use lithium-ion batteries. But because those electronics are small, it doesn’t take much energy to charge them.
Hoverboards are larger, and aren’t stationary. Not to mention they need ample power to move. This means stuffing more lithium-ion batteries into a small space.
Additionally, the batteries in hoverboards are in the footpads. This causes them to move around and bump into each other (or other objects). It also damages them. And because they’re flammable, all of this agitation can cause combustion.
Leaving hoverboards plugged in for too long also can cause fires or explosions. Hence the number of incidences of them overheating or catching on fire—especially while overcharging.
About the CPSC Recall
How are hoverboards legal to sell or own? That’s a good question. The CPSC’s recent action may change how it’s answered down the road.
In the short term, the commission’s attention has prompted 10 manufacturers, as well as an online and a retail store, to recall their products. So, if you bought a two-wheeled hoverboard that contains a lithium-ion battery between June 2015 and May 2016, you may have to send it back.
According to the CPSC website, “Consumers should immediately stop using these recalled products and contact the recalling company to return their hoverboard for a full refund, a free repair, or a free replacement depending on the model.”
Unsure whether your device made the cut? Check out cpsc.gov. There you can find a list of companies, brands, and models affected by this recall.
Whether your hoverboard is part of the recall or not, there are certain insurance measures you should take if you plan to keep it. That’s because even products not part of this recall may be defective.
As a result, whether your board is new or old, recalled or not, be sure to:
Purchase Ample Liability Coverage
Hoverboards can be a huge liability. Especially with the destruction they’ve been causing. Given that, it may be in your best interest to up your liability coverage. At the very least, you should reevaluate it.
Liability insurance covers the legal fees of lawsuits related to property damage or bodily injury. For example, say your friend comes over, rides your hoverboard, and gets injured. You’d be liable for their injuries. If you don’t have enough liability insurance, expect to pay out thousands of dollars.
Underwriters strongly advise upping your liability coverage. Or you can purchase an umbrella policy, which is essentially extra liability protection.
Reevaluate your Insurance Policy
Your homeowners policy won’t cover hoverboard damage to your home or personal property. Actually, it won’t cover damage tied to any recreational vehicles, unless otherwise specified.
In other words, if you bought a hoverboard thinking it’s covered, it’s probably not.
Still confused after reviewing your policy? Reach out to your agent or someone at your insurance company. They should be able to set the record straight and maybe even put your mind at ease.
Of course, the number one way to avoid safety and insurance mishaps is to not purchase a hoverboard. But if you must, make sure the brand isn’t on the CPSC’s recall list and that your home insurance will cover you if your board causes an injury or damages property.