The Rise Of The Electric Scooter
In recent years, urban commuters have changed the way they prefer to commute. Instead of buses, trains, and taxis, commuters are now preferring Uber, Lyft, and bike-sharing programs to make their way about the city. The most recent addition to these popular new transportation methods, especially with young residents, is the electric scooter.
Electric scooters are like Razor scooters, only motorized. They’re powered by a battery pack which renders them self-propelling, allowing for an effortless commute that won’t leave a rider sweaty when they reach the office. Some towns and cities have begun providing them for rental use in the same manner as a bike-sharing program.
Although an easy and environmentally friendly method of transportation, there are some risks associated with electric scooters. What happens if you’re in an accident involving an electric scooter? Will insurance cover it? This guide will answer those questions and provide an overview of the risks and laws associated with electric scooters.
Potential Danger of Using Electric Scooters
Electric scooters can travel as fast as 15 mph. That speed is fast enough to put a rider in serious danger of getting hurt. The scooters are also very small and quiet, which makes a rider’s presence less obvious to automobile drivers on the road.
Potential riders may expect to ride a scooter to be as easy as riding a bike, but the scooter’s smaller wheels give riders a higher center of gravity, putting the rider at a greater risk of losing their balance. In fact, doctors and emergency room employees have reported an increase in injury from electric scooters.
The increase in injury is likely caused by riders having access to the scooters at a moment’s notice. Someone can be walking around the city, see a scooter for rent, and decide to use it for their commute without actually having any experience riding one. Laws require no special license to drive a motorized scooter, so no education or training is needed. Many riders are using scooters without the appropriate knowledge or technique for safe transport, and in many cities, riders are not required by law to wear a helmet, so in the event of a collision or other incident, injuries can be devastating.
What are the Laws Around Electric Scooters?
Currently, there are no federal laws regarding electric scooters, so any regulations vary by state, and some cities are enforcing their own rules. Some states are considering a law that requires all riders to wear a helmet, while others are considering one that requires anyone under eighteen to wear a helmet (many companies won’t rent to anyone under eighteen anyway).
As far as laws regarding where scooters can travel, they generally follow the same rules as riding a bicycle. Electric scooters are not permitted on sidewalks but are allowed in bike lanes where they’re available. In California, for example, they cannot be ridden on roadways with limits over 35 miles per hour. When driving on a roadway, scooter riders should follow normal traffic rules. Other rules that vary by state involve possessing a valid driver’s license and allowing only one passenger per scooter.
Who Pays for Damages in Case of an Accident with an Electric Scooter?
Because of the relatively new popularity of scooters as a method of legitimate transportation, there may be some confusion about laws and liability when using them, or how to even classify an accident involving one. They’re not self-propelled like a bicycle, but they’re not as big and powerful as a motorcycle or an automobile. In the event of an accident, just like with motorcycles and cars, the at-fault party will be responsible for damages, but who that is will vary depending on individual circumstances.
What If A Car Hits A Scooter?
When a car driver hits a scooter rider due to their own negligence, the driver is responsible for any damages to the scooter or the scooter rider. For example, if a scooter rider needs to be taken to the hospital with bodily injuries, the car driver will be held accountable for any medical bills incurred. This will normally be covered by an auto insurance policy, which covers liability and damage to someone else’s property caused by a motor vehicle accident.
What If A Scooter Rider Hits a Car?
When a scooter rider causes an accident for a car driver, the scooter rider will be liable for damage to vehicles, injuries, or the death of anyone that was caused by the accident. Say, for example, a scooter weaves into traffic causing a motor vehicle to swerve and create a multi-car collision. The scooter rider will be responsible for any costs incurred through injury and property damage.
What If A Scooter Rider Hits Another Scooter Or Motorcycle?
The same holds true if a scooter rider hits a motor vehicle. Although electric scooters are fairly small and light and unlikely to cause much damage or injury when hitting an automobile, if any damage was incurred, say if the scooter broke the mirror off a car door, the scooter rider would be responsible for covering that damage.
Does My Insurance Cover Electric Scooters?
In short, your regular home and auto insurance policies do not cover any accidents involving your use of an electric scooter. A home or renters policy does offer liability coverage, but those policies exclude coverage for any motorized vehicle since that is covered by an auto insurance policy. Auto insurance is meant to cover motorized vehicles, but they exclude coverage for vehicles with less than four wheels.
Most insurance companies offer policies for motorcycles, and some offer specialized policies for mopeds and other small motorized vehicles. You may be able to find a company that offers a policy covering an electric scooter, but you would likely need to own your scooter to open the policy. Finding a policy to cover just the rental use of a scooter is unlikely.
Some states and cities are pushing for scooter companies to offer liability coverage, but it is not currently required by law. Many scooter companies don’t provide any insurance for riders at all; in fact, they require renters to sign a waiver stating that any liability or damage will fall on the rider.
How to Protect Yourself from Scooter Accidents
Since it’s difficult to find insurance coverage for scooters and your safety, you’ll want to do everything in your power to protect yourself from a potential scooter accident. Be sure you follow the rules of the road the same way a bicyclist is required to, obeying all traffic signals and road signs. Stay off sidewalks; if a bike lane is available, use it.
You should always wear a helmet when riding an electric scooter, even if it’s not required by law yet. Make sure you’re paying attention. An accident can happen in an instant.
Remember that you will be financially responsible for any injury or property damage you cause in an at-fault accident, so try to avoid using scooters uninsured. Instead, find a company that provides coverage for you in their User Agreement.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
How much is the insurance for an electric scooter?
If you have your own electric scooter, you may be able to purchase scooter insurance. Generally, this policy will be lumped together as a moped/scooter policy. On average, you can look to spend $250 for a scooter/moped policy that provides coverage for liability and property damage.
What is the difference between a scooter and a moped?
A moped is a two-wheeled vehicle that has both pedals and a motor. The pedals are used to get the motor running. Motor scooters do not have pedals and instead have a platform for the foot to rest. The pedals are the main difference, as the scooter’s propulsion comes only from the motor.