Do Electric Scooters Need Insurance?

By John Oliver

February 15, 2020


Man on the ground after a crashing into a car with his electric scooter

Electric scooters occupy a middle ground between non-motorized vehicles and motorized vehicles with excessive speed capabilities. This begs the question of whether or not the vehicles are safe. On top of that is the question of insurance. Do electric scooters need insurance to be legally operated on public streets?

The answer to the insurance question depends on scooter ownership and jurisdiction. Right now, most states treat scooters like bicycles. No insurance is required on electric scooters owned and operated by individual consumers. Many states do require companies that operate shared scooter programs to have at least basic liability insurance. Whether or not that insurance is adequate is a matter of debate.

A Popular Former Transportation

The whole insurance question is facilitated by the popularity of electric scooters. According to data cited by The Verge, riders took 38.5 million rides on shared scooters in 2018. How many additional rides were taken by private owners is unknown. Suffice it to say that tens of millions of rides is a lot.

Rides alone are not indicative of potential insurance problems. You also have to consider injuries. Another study cited by The Verge suggests that there are 20 injuries for every 100,000 electric scooter trips. While that may not seem like much, go back and consider the 38.5 million trips previously cited. Those trips resulted in some 7,700 injuries in 2018. That’s a significant number.

The thing to remember is that injuries cost money. When electric scooter accidents also damage personal property, the price tag goes up. Someone has to pay for medical expenses and property damage. If there is no insurance in place to cover the cost of an accident, the money comes out of the rider’s pocket.

Insurance for Rental Companies

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) explains that insurance regulations for rental companies vary by state. Many states don’t require insurance. Others do. Of course, some cities require insurance for rental companies, independently of state laws. San Francisco is one of them.

A basic insurance policy for rental scooters would cover minimum liability. Liability insurance is insurance that covers the losses suffered by others as a result of an accident you cause. Let’s say you were to crash a scooter into several tables at a sidewalk café. Liability insurance would cover that damage. It would not cover your own injuries.

Scooter policies can cover collision and medical expenses as well. Collision coverage pays to repair or replace the damaged scooter. Medical coverage pays for your medical bills. Note that collision and medical are generally not required of rental companies. Even if a rental company carries minimum liability, you might still be responsible for collision and medical.

Your Personal Insurance Coverage

Far too many people operate electric scooters without knowing about the insurance implications. If you ride scooters regularly, are you covered by any form of insurance? It pays to know the answer to this question. A good place to start is your health insurance.

The general rule for health insurance is to cover injuries relating to scooter accidents. However, your policy might include deductibles. Let’s say you have a $500 annual deductible and your medical bills following an accident total $1,500. You would pay the first $500 and your insurance company would cover the remaining $1.000.

Don’t assume your health insurance covers scooter accidents. Read your policy thoroughly to know for sure. If you have questions, contact your insurance company and ask them. You need to know if you covered. If not, you might want to look into other forms of insurance.

Supplemental Health Insurance

You might determine that your health insurance doesn’t provide adequate coverage. In that case, a supplemental health policy could be the answer. Supplemental health insurance kicks in after you reach the limits of your primary health insurance. It might come in handy in the event of a serious accident that results in costly injuries.

Homeowners and Renters Insurance

Some homeowners’ policies will cover property damage as a result of a scooter accident. Few will provide medical coverage. Renters’ insurance is the same. However, both types of insurance should protect you against theft and vandalism. Most policies do. Again though, read your policy details to make sure.

Umbrella Insurance

Umbrella insurance is a kind of insurance many people consider a catch-all. It kicks and when all of your other insurance options are exhausted. It is so named because it covers just about anything. A good umbrella policy would help cover your medical costs as well as liability and collision.

Why Insurance Is so Important

Now that you know some of the nuts and bolts of scooter insurance, it’s time to talk about why having it is so important. There are two angles to consider: liability, and personal injury and property loss. We will start by talking about liability.

When You Cause an Accident

In any insurance scenario, liability relates to your obligations to others. Perhaps you own a car. You must carry a minimum amount of liability insurance on that car in case you cause an accident. That coverage pays other drivers for their losses.

Driving a car without liability insurance puts you at financial risk in the event you cause an accident. Without liability insurance, you will have to pay the other driver’s medical costs out of your own pocket. You will have to pay to repair or replace the other driver’s car. If any other property damage occurred, you will have to pay for that as well.

Things are no different with electric scooters. Any accident you cause could result in significant financial loss if you don’t have insurance. We previously spoke about an accident scenario involving you running into some tables at a sidewalk café. What if one of those tables flipped up and crashed through the front window of the restaurant? Now you could be talking about an expensive repair bill as well as injuries to people sitting on the other side of that window.

Personal Injury and Property Loss

Liability is important enough because it can cost you a lot. But the secondary reason for carrying insurance is just as important. Liability aside, you could be forced to pay hefty sums for your own medical care and property loss in the event of an accident.

A worst-case scenario could see you left disabled and unable to work after an accident. Your health insurance will only cover so much. Once it’s exhausted, where do you go from there? How will you pay for those ongoing medical bills you will be getting for the rest of your life?

As far as personal property loss is concerned, what do you normally carry on your person when you’re out and about? Without some sort of insurance coverage, all of your personal belongings are at risk. Even a minor accident can wipe out your cell phone and laptop computer.

In Summary

Electric scooters represent a great way to get around town without spending a lot or contributing to fossil fuel emissions. A good electric scooter does a wonderful job as a last-mile device. But riding scooters in traffic brings the risk of accidents. And with accidents come bills.

If you routinely ride scooters without insurance coverage, it’s time to rethink things. At least look into your health insurance and your homeowners’ or renter’s insurance. Find out what they cover. If the coverage isn’t enough, click here for more information. There are several options that will provide you with very good coverage. 

John Oliver

About the author

Electrical Engineer and father of two. John shares the love of electrical scooters, hoverbords and electric bikes with his kids and his readers here at ElectricScooterExpert.com

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