If you think you are covered by your homeowners insurance, renters insurance, auto insurance or even your umbrella insurance… Think again. Let’s start with some case examples to demonstrate how exposed you can be to liability. I’m using real world examples that I’ve either seen or heard of. I’ve changed some of the details to protect individuals who may not want their story to be told.
Case example 1It’s early in the morning and you are getting ready for a fun family trip of riding your electric bike, Onewheel, and electric scooter in a local state park. After loading the back of your vehicle with all the electric rideable devices you go back into the house to look for the helmets and wrist guards and to gather the rest of the family. When you finally get everyone out to the car you realize that someone has come and stolen your electric devices. You file a claim with your Homeowners insurance for the loss but you are rejected. Did you know that loss from the theft of electric rideable devices is typically NOT fully covered by homeowners, renters or auto insurances? Almost all homeowners, renters and auto insurances offer very minimal to no coverage. Once you put a motor on something, whether it’s a gas powered go-kart or an electric bike or skateboard, it is now considered a motorized vehicle. Homeowners and renters insurance won’t insure it because it has a motor. In addition, auto insurance won’t do a thing unless the motor vehicle has been licensed and registered.
E-rideables can be expensive.In the first case, a bunch of expensive electric rideable devices were stolen. If you own an electric rideable device like a Onewheel, electric bicycle, electric unicycle, electric skateboard, or electric scooter or are planning on buying one, then you know they can be expensive. A Onewheel XR will cost you $1800 and a high-end e-bike could cost over $5-10,000. With an investment like that, you may want to make sure you have adequate coverage for theft or damage to your device, especially if it is your primary means of transportation. The thing is, with traditional insurance, once they find out that the stolen device was an unregistered and unlicensed motorized device, then they may deny your claim and trust me, insurance companies are looking for ways to NOT have to pay. In the sad case of the stolen electric devices, the insurance companies denied the claims and the owner had to take the loss. Besides being expensive, electric rideable devices can go fast and far, making them more susceptible to damage which makes liability an issue.
Case example 2You look forward to enjoying a group Onewheel ride on a beautiful day. You meet up in a mall parking lot and while you are waiting for everyone to get their helmets on and GoPros ready, you ride around to warm up. As everyone is gathering for a group photo, you jump dismount from your Onewheel but to your surprise and horror the Onewheel motor does not disengage. Instead it continues forward gaining speed, rocketing towards nearby cars. You let out a little scream but before you even start running after the runaway board, the ghosted Onewheel strikes a BMW leaving a huge dent. As you go to retrieve your ghosted Onewheel laying on its side, the wheel still spinning, you notice that the driver of the car is not happy and that the entire incident was witnessed by shoppers.
E-rideables are high potential risks.Electric rideables tend to travel fast and are heavy. They also contain complex internal components. There is a high potential risk for high speed crashes causing damage to property. If you are riding a Onewheel that decides to shoot off into traffic causing an accident and damage, you could be personally responsible and face devastating financial liabilities. Forget the fact that your Onewheel may have been destroyed in the crash, chances are that your insurance won’t cover the damages caused in the crash and you’ll be paying out of pocket to fix that broken BMW. I’ve seen a ghosted onewheel race 40 feet and slam into a building. I’ve also seen a ghosted onewheel missile right at a pedestrian who luckily jumped out of the way. The board then slammed into a concrete barrier which stopped it from going into the freeway traffic below. Imagine the chaos, damage, and potential injury had the board shot into the busy freeway?!
Case example 3You commute on your electric bike to work every day and you love zipping by other bicyclists with the assist of your electric motor as you cruise on the bike/walking path. On this day, out of nowhere a dog lunges out in front of you. You try to brake and swerve out of the way but you end up hitting the dog and its owner. Luckily you were wearing a helmet and avoided serious injury to yourself, however the dog and its owner both required extensive hospital and veterinary care including orthopedic surgery. The injured and their lawyer go after you, holding you responsible for the accident and the associated medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. Case 3 is about liability issues when someone gets injured. If you are at fault for causing a crash because you were going too fast or riding wrecklessly, you could be found liable to pay for the injuries that you’ve caused just like with our e-bike friend who crashed into the dog and its owner. Being held responsible for injuring another and not having proper coverage to protect you and your assets is the scariest scenario to me because medical bills get expensive fast. If they get the right lawyers, you could lose everything. The purpose of this is not to scare you, but to inform you. But I have to admit that as I did my research, I found this all pretty scary. Electric rideable devices like the Onewheel, electric bicycle, electric unicycle, electric skateboard, or even electric scooter are fun and efficient ways to get around but they are expensive and carry potential risks. You may do everything you can to keep yourself and your board safe and protected like riding conservatively, wearing safety gear, and having proper health insurance. But there is a huge gaping hole in your coverage that almost everyone is completely unaware of. So what are your options? Call your existing home or renters insurance and ask if they cover your electric rideable device in the case of theft and liability. If they say yes, and many companies will initially say yes, the important thing is to ask for it in writing. In most cases, when they look into the fine print, they will see that motorized devices like the one you are calling about are specifically excluded. Who knows. Maybe you’ll get lucky because you live in a state and have an insurance company that does cover it. Next option. Try to find a company that will insure you and your device.
E-bike insurance is availableElectric bike insurance does exist and it provides coverage between auto, home, and renters insurances where there are gaps and fine print exclusions. For example there is a company called Markel that offers a stand-alone e-bike insurance policy that insures e-bikes with power assist up to 750 watts with speeds up to 28mph. Markel’s electric bicycle coverage protects the ebike from theft, damage and more. E-bike policies start at $100 per year and offer a variety of coverage levels and deductible options. Insuring devices like the Onewheel, electric skateboards, scooters, and unicycles is more difficult. Rules vary state by state and from company to company. I have yet to find a good solution and I’m asking for any experts in the insurance industry if you have a solution for us and our electric mobility devices. If you know someone that rides an electric rideable device, please consider sharing this message with them. I’m sorry I don’t have a solution at this time. I really did look into it. I spoke to insurance agents and did a lot of reading. I hope though that you are now more informed about this issue and maybe together we can find a solution.
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