E-scooters: insurance and safety implications from GFIA

20 January 2021 — Alexandra GUZUN
GFIA (Global Federation of Insurance Associations) has issued a paper regarding their recommendations for the e-scooters which became one of fastest growing urban mobility trends and it is crucial to understand the risk profile of e-scooters and jurisdictional best practices for regulating them.

Despite their many benefits, the growing popularity of e-scooter use has contributed to more collisions. E-scooter injuries are on the rise, both to the rider and to third parties. Studies have revealed that the main risk factors for e-scooter rider injuries are lack of helmet use, user inexperience and behavior, motor vehicle interference and infrastructure issues, including potholes and lack of cycle paths.

The most common e-scooter injury to the rider according to these studies was head trauma and a significant number of injured persons who sustained head injuries were not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.

There is concern over which insurance policy will cover an e-scooter claim. When an e-scooter rider causes an injury to themselves, they will likely seek compensation through a health insurance policy. In situations where the e-scooter rider is injured in a collision with a motor vehicle, the negligent driver's auto insurance covers the injury, as it would in any other traffic collision. Both instances are the same for bicycle riders. However, in collisions between an e-scooter and a pedestrian or another person's property, the answer is not clear.

The regulatory requirements for e-scooters are different from a country to another, some jurisdictions have national-level legislation, while others have state laws. These requirements refers to: what roads e-scooters can operate on, speeds they are limited to, minimum age restrictions for riders and insurance requirements. No jurisdiction requires all e-scooter riders to wear a helmet.

Therefore, GFIA recommends the following:

  • E-scooter speed should not surpass 25km/h and municipalities should enforce which roads they are permitted on (ie maximum speed limit);
  • Municipalities that promote micromobility should strive to improve transportation infrastructure, including cycle paths, to encourage different modes of transportation to coexist safely in public spaces, with minimal, if any, interaction with pedestrians;
  • To protect pedestrians from collisions with e-scooters, e-scooters should be prohibited from sidewalks and enforcement agencies should be resourced to ensure compliance;
  • To ensure appropriate and safe rider behaviour, e-scooter riders should be at least 16 years of age;
  • To protect the rider from head trauma, helmets should be required for all e-scooter riders regardless of age and experience level;
  • Liability insurance should not be mandatory for e-scooters; however, if a jurisdiction insists on insurance requirements, they should be proportionate to the risk that e-scooters represent in the respective jurisdiction; and
  • E-scooter sharing companies should take necessary measures to ensure the safety of e-scooter riders, including purchasing comprehensive liability insurance in preparation for any bodily injury and/or property damages against a third party.
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