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Public E-Scooters: Convenience Leads to Catastrophe

The extensive launch of electric scooters throughout the country was meant to provide mobility options for residents of more than 100 cities. However, with choice comes consequences. A significant number of accidents has resulted in serious injuries and death with many of those involving first-time scooter operators.

According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, nearly 40 million scooter rides occurred in 2018.

Private health insurance will cover some of the costs. However, being responsible for a crash that results in property damage or, worse yet, a motor vehicle or pedestrian accident goes beyond physical injuries as most scooter operators do not have the insurance to cover the aftermath of an accident — their medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Simply put, most motor vehicle policies cover four-wheels, not two. Homeowner’s/renter’s coverage is likely not an option as it covers bicycle accidents, not those involving motorcycles or scooters. Any gap or outright lack in coverage could lead to catastrophic financial consequences.

As the largest providers of these conveyances, Bird and Lime have clauses in their rental agreements that place the responsibility on the shoulders of the operators. Both companies provide liability coverage for customers with Bird covering all expenses and Lime covering up to $1 million.

However, that coverage does not account for acts of negligence.

Electric scooter riders might think their auto insurance would kick in to cover an electric scooter accident, but automobile insurance generally doesn't cover vehicles with less than four wheels. And homeowner's or renter's insurance may cover an accident that occurs on a traditional bicycle, but it does not cover motorized bike or scooter trips.

The first step in considering shared scooter travel is to contact an insurance agent regarding starting coverage or adding it to an existing policy if that is an option.

For now, e-scooter enthusiasts should proceed with caution.

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