The proliferation of electric ride-sharing services throughout the U.S. is fueled by demand for affordable and green transportation options. Vehicles ranging from e-scooters, electric bicycles and mopeds are easily accessible via apps.
But regulators have to balance the popularity of the sharing programs with public safety, as injuries and even a few fatalities have occurred.
Riders also need to be aware of the insurance issues surrounding these programs.
A ride-share company’s insurance policy might not cover a user in the event of an accident. Many companies require users to assume all liability arising out of their vehicle’s use.
That means if you’re driving a one of these vehicles and get in an accident:
- You may have to pay out of your own pocket to repair property damage.
- You may have to pay your own medical bills if you’re injured. You may also be able to use your health insurance.
- If you injure a pedestrian, you could be held liable for their injuries.
- If you damage another person’s vehicle or other property, you could be held liable for repairs.
- That’s why it’s important to read the company’s user agreement, so you know your responsibility as a rider.
As for your own insurance, whether you’re covered depends on the specifics of your policies. You should speak to your insurer or agent. Expert opinion and wording are critical.
Medical costs to treat injuries sustained while operating an e-scooter or moped are addressed under the injured person’s health insurance. If the person was injured while using the vehicle for work-related purposes, the person could be eligible for workers compensation benefits.
Whether a user’s personal insurance would cover any third-party liability arising out of an accident they caused or contributed to varies by policy.
Homeowners: A standard homeowners policy will typically not cover liabilities arising out of the use of a motor vehicle, usually defined as any self-propelled vehicle. Homeowners policies also exclude any liability arising out of a motor vehicle rented to an insured. Renters insurance also will not cover vehicle-related liability.
Personal auto: The coverage on a personal car insurance policy generally does not extend to a rented electric vehicle. That means if you’re involved in an accident while driving such a vehicle, your car insurance policy will probably not pay for medical bills or property repairs (yours or another person’s). Similarly, if you have an insurance policy for your own moped, it likely will not cover you when you rent one.
Personal liability umbrella: Personal liability umbrella policies (PLUP) offer an extra layer of protection when an insured exhausts the limits of their underlying homeowners or auto policy. Such policies can also provide coverage for perils that are excluded from the underlying insurance policies. For example, unlike an auto policy, a standard PLUP doesn’t usually exclude vehicles with fewer than four wheels and therefore may provide some coverage for electric vehicle liabilities.
The bottom line is: check with your insurer or agent about your coverage.