Over the past few years electric scooters began to appear on city streets all around us. It seems that the popularity of motorized electric scooters skyrockets whenever a ride share company moves into town. Individuals who have tried to ride one, usually fall in love with them. Many decide to buy an electric kick scooter of their own instead of renting.
This increased popularity brought a completely new and fun mode of transportation into the cities, but regrettably it also resulted in a spike of traffic accidents associated with a vehicle that was relatively unknown just a few short years ago. Sure we all knew what a toy kick scooter was, but it’s larger version with an electric motor was not a popular item.
If you are planning on buying or renting an eScooter you may be asking yourself: Do I need insurance for an electric scooter? The simple answer is: currently in most states and municipalities you are not required to have insurance for an electric kick scooter, but you should certainly consider getting one.
Continue reading below to find out why…
First things first. Before we discuss the various insurance options available for electric scooters, lets take a moment to define a few terms. More specifically, the various types of scooters available on the market today.
Types of scooters:
Kick scooter – this general term refers to two-wheeled, three-wheeled or four-wheeled push scooters that have no seat. These scooters are commonly (and unjustly) associated with old-school toys for kids. Versions for adults exist, they include pro scooters capable to withstanding some serious tricks. A kick scooter may have no engine of any sort and be propelled by the rider. But it may also have an engine, either electric or gasoline-powered. Models that have an engine are called motorized scooters.
Motorized scooter – commonly referred to by some as stand-up scooter or electric kick scooter. This term applies to a vehicle without a seat, with 2 (or 3) wheels and top speed of 30 mph. The vast majority of them are electric, but there are a few models using internal combustion engine.
Moped – a small motorized vehicle, similar to a motorcycle, but with engine capacity no larger than 49 cc and top speed of 30 mph (48 km/h). What makes them somewhat characteristic is the fact that some mopeds have pedals and resemble bicycles.
Motor scooter – these include a moped which by definition is a motorized scooter with an engine size 49 cc or less. Those with 50 cc engines and more are called scooters.
Motorcycle – in most states and countries defined as a two wheel powered vehicle with an engine capacity equal to or larger than 50 cc. In some locations it may also include a three wheeled vehicle.
A note of caution: all these terms are very similar, so it’s easy to get them mixed up. People who are not actively involved in the subject matter may get them confused. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. So, if you are calling an insurance company for a quote or talking to the DMV regarding a license or registration for a specific type of vehicle, I strongly recommend referring to the vehicle in a more descriptive manner. After all, up until about 2 years ago I myself thought that a “motorized scooter” and a “motor scooter” were one and the same thing.
Your automobile insurance does not cover accidents involving electric scooters. If you get into an accident while riding one, you might be liable because your car insurance does not provide coverage. This is because car insurance does not cover vehicles with fewer than four wheels, as well as those with no registration or license plates.
This is a very important distinction. Most people are used to the idea of automobile insurance covering additional activities with which you may be involved with. Quite frequently a personal car insurance policy may provide you with coverage for liability due to accidents involving motor scooters (moped-like), other people’s bodily injury as well as damage to the other party’s vehicles.
In other words, your car insurance will not cover your liability sustained from accidents involving your motorized scooter use.
Rideshare companies such as Bird, Lime, Circ and others
Unlike a privately-owned electric kick scooter (motorized scooter) for which there usually is no specific liability insurance available on the market, companies that provide ride share scooters may include partial liability insurance with their service. This is because some cities require that these companies provide proof of insurance.
This practice is not universal, but rather changes from city to city. For this reason check with individual companies to find out if insurance is included with their service, and if so, what does it include.
The fact that scooter riders are not insured by those big ride share companies is not surprising, but it also isn’t something that many people take into consideration before renting a scooter.
Type of insurance to consider getting:
Electric scooters certainly are not the safest vehicles to travel with. Currently there is no insurance available on the market that would be designed specifically for electric kick scooters. Fortunately, there are other options available that should provide eScooter riders with the coverage and a piece of mind they need.
Umbrella insurance – currently this type of personal liability insurance might be the best option for most electric scooter riders. In the past, umbrella insurance policy was used for the purposes of extending liability coverage beyond a house, such as private pool, bicycle use, etc. As such it was mainly used by wealthy individuals looking to extend their liability insurance coverage beyond the offering of standard insurance policy.
Umbrella insurance will cover damage to other people’s property, as well as their medical bills. It will not cover you own medical bills.
Until other insurance options become available on the market, this choice of insurance appears to be one of the “go to” options for people who own an electric scooter and use it on a regular basis.
In other words, if you happen to be regularly commuting to school or work on an electric scooter, an umbrella policy is quite possibly the best option for you that is currently available on the market.
Health insurance – in the event of personal injury resulting from an accident, this form of insurance will help you cover the costs of medical treatment. As noted earlier, umbrella insurance will only cover medical expenses of other people. This is where a well-designed health insurance comes in. This option will provide you with a second form of insurance that will assist you in the event of personal medical expenses sustained during an accident.
Just remember that health insurance only covers your health-related expenses. It will not cover liability for vehicle and property damage.
Things to consider
If you happen to search online for “Scooter insurance” or anything similar to this term, you will find results that are specific for mopeds and electric scooters. In this case the term “electric scooters” refers to those seated, Vespa-like vehicles that are closer to motorcycles than kick scooters.
Why are electric scooters associated with increased risk of injury?
There is many reasons as to why electric scooters have been associated with increased risk of injury sustained during an accident. In fact, electric scooter riders have a 200x higher risk of injury than bicycle riders.
Here are a few specific reasons for this relatively high disparity:
- For decades, scooters have been largely regarded as toys. In reality, electric scooters are agile and fast vehicles that are also extremely fun to ride.
- Large proportion of electric scooter riders are ride share users, meaning that they may not be experienced riders who may be more at risk of an accident.
- Unlike helmet use in bicycle riders, it has been documented that well over 95% of all electric scooter users do not use a helmet.
- The are no specific and well-designed traffic rules of the road for electric scooters. Furthermore, quite often the rules change from city to city or do not exist at all. In some municipalities electric scooters are required to use sidewalks, at other locations they must use standard roads, while at still other areas they have no clear set rules. This tremendous disparity creates significant confusion for the riders, pedestrians and other users of the road.
Why should you get insurance for your electric kick scooter?
Although electric kick scooter riding can be lots of fun, it can also be dangerous to the rider, his or her surroundings and other road users. Electric kick scooters have only been around for a few years, therefore we still don’t have much statistical data regarding electric scooter safety.
Fortunately, there have only been a few isolated reports of deaths attributed to electric scooter use. However, the overall number of injuries associated with electric scooter use has been on the rise. The vast majority of injuries were reported in riders who were not wearing a helmet at the time of accident.
Additional liability insurance provides a piece of mind in the form of an umbrella insurance policy and health insurance. Together these policies will ensure the best liability coverage in the event of an accident involving an electric scooter.
Why doesn’t automobile insurance cover electric scooters?
As a general rule, automobile insurance only covers vehicles with at least four wheels. For this reason, electric scooters are not covered by car insurance.
Take home message
Electric kick scooters are likely here to stay because they are extremely mobile, inexpensive and fun. Even if you decide to buy one for you private use instead of renting, you will still save money on gas.
However, electric kick scooters should not be confused with toys, which they are not. They are relatively fast electric vehicles that also happen to be really fun to drive. As such, they can be dangerous in the event of an accident involving the scooter and a pedestrian, another scooter, automobile or another vehicle.
Electric scooter riders, both ride share users and those who personally own a scooter, should be aware that their automobile insurance policy does not automatically offer coverage for electric scooter use. As a result, those who want to be safe (and we all should) are encouraged to look for additional types of insurance that will cover accidents involving electric scooters. One of the best fit options is an umbrella insurance policy along with proper health insurance.