On my Facebook feed yesterday, I saw that an old college friend was injured while riding an electric scooter (e-scooter). She broke her leg in multiple places, which required surgery and several days in the hospital. With the popularity of companies like JUMP by Uber and Lime, before you hop on, you need to be aware of the risks and insurance exposures that come with their use.

If You Cause Damage or Injury while Riding an E-Scooter

The only way to have liability coverage when riding a self-propelled scooter is through an Umbrella policy because, if designed correctly, Umbrella policies do not have a 4-wheel minimum restriction.

You might think that other policies you have would cover you, but

  • Your Auto policy will not cover injuries or damages you cause to other people or property because scooters have fewer than 4 wheels, and
  • Your Homeowner’s policy does not provide coverage because you are driving this vehicle outside of your house and it is a self-propelled vehicle (unlike a bicycle).

If You Hurt Yourself while Riding an E-Scooter

You would not be covered for medical payments under your Auto policy since you are neither in or on, or getting into or out of, an automobile. Ordinarily, if you were driving a car and crashed, your Auto policy’s medical payments coverage would provide for doctor’s bills; however, this is only when you are “occupying” an (4-wheel) automobile.

If Someone Else Hurts You while Riding an E-Scooter

What happens in the worst-case scenario: you get hit by a truck while riding an e-scooter? Better make sure you’ve got enough Uninsured/ Underinsured coverage. If a driver hits you and is deemed negligent or at-fault, they are responsible for your medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of wages, loss of support and loss of companionship. If they do not have enough insurance—or any insurance—the Uninsured and Underinsured portion of your Auto (and Umbrella) policy will protect you. This coverage is very broad and protects you whether you are “occupying” a vehicle or a pedestrian!

The Umbrella Pitfall

Many people think Umbrella policies are a “catch-all” kind of policy. They are not. The two most common gaps I see when I take a close look at my clients’ previous policies:

  1. They have low coverage limits and only provide liability coverage. They should also provide Uninsured/ Underinsured coverage. That could be a failure of the agent who designed the policy, or an unwise decision to cut corners to reduce cost that exposes the insured to unnecessary risks.
  2. While the agent might have called the policy an “Umbrella” policy, they might have truly provided a Personal Excess Liability policy (PELP). A PELP will only provide coverage if and only if there is coverage under another policy (such as an Auto, Homeowner’s, etc.). If there is no other coverage, you might be responsible for the underlying limit ($500,000 for most companies), or they could exclude coverage altogether. If you have never heard of a PELP before, you should check to make sure you have the coverage you think you do.