Accounting For E-Bikes In Insurance

Blair Baldwin is co-founder and CEO of Unlimited Ridersan insurance startup focused on motorcycles, e-bikes, and powersports vehicles.

A few months ago, I received an email from an old friend who recently bought an e-bike. He’s trying to figure out whether to buy e-bike insurance or motorcycle insurance or whether he should list them as a scheduled property on his homeowner’s insurance. As the co-founder of an insurance company focused on vehicles like e-bikes, this is something I think about a lot.

My friend’s situation isn’t unique, and in fact, I predict it will only happen more often as e-bikes continue to grow in popularity. So it’s an area that I think more leaders in insurance should be educating,

Unlike my friend, not all motorists will be proactive enough to get their own insurance even though, like any property, it can help protect them and their property. It also raises the important question of whether the industry should push the government to make e-bike insurance mandatory. I believe these and other related issues should be on your radar when it comes to insuring this growing class of vehicle.

E-Bike Gray Area

Since e-bikes have motors, they are in a gray area when it comes to insurance coverage. There are three classes of e-bikes to understand when insuring a rider. For Class 1 and 3 e-bikes, the motor engages while the rider pedals, and although Class 3 e-bikes don’t have a throttle, they can reach speeds of up to 28 mph. In comparison, with Class 2 e-bikes, the throttle can be used to accelerate, similar to a motorcycle. In all cases, however, the difference between an e-bike and a regular bicycle is clear: Because the motor can be switched, there is a much higher risk for the rider to be involved in an accident, injure themselves or others, and cause damage to their bike. or other property.

In fact, there is already data from the Netherlands—perhaps one of the safest places in the world to cycle—which shows how the accident rate among e-bike riders and pedestrians is higher than that of traditional bicycles.

For this reason, it may seem obvious that e-bike insurance should be mandatory here in the US. However, state and national laws have not been able to address the dramatic increase in e-bike purchases. And so that puts insurance companies in a position to educate consumers about why they need e-bike insurance, explain the different policies, sell coverage, and even push for such legislation.

Cover E-Bikes

First, it is important for those in the industry to understand the reasons for this gray area around e-bike insurance. While some homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies cover e-bikes, others do not, as they are considered “motor vehicles,” at least as far as insurance is concerned. In cases where e-bikes are covered, most policies typically pay up to $1,500 in claims for stolen or damaged bikes. This is fine for entry-level e-bikes, but may not be enough for riders with more expensive vehicles.

Also, while policies vary, many do not cover third-party harm. That means e-bike riders may be personally liable for medical costs, lost wages and other damages incurred by pedestrians they have injured, which can be very costly. The financial consequences could be disastrous if this happened while the e-bike rider was not insured.

Protecting Our Customers

In my opinion, the insurance industry is the most tightly knit and collaborative industry that I have ever encountered. It is my belief that we can come together on this issue to help e-bike riders protect themselves and others in the event of an accident.

As an individual company, we can do our part to be proactive about e-bike ownership and educate our policyholders about which classes of e-bikes are covered under their current homeowners or renters insurance and qualifying coverage. Some companies, such as Lemonade, have written informative posts explaining how they treat e-bikes under their existing policies, which is especially helpful for new e-bike owners.

As an industry, we can use our connections and resources to advocate for motorist and pedestrian safety. This includes requiring riders to have e-bike insurance, but also includes supporting legislation that improves the safety of pedestrians and cyclists on roads and sidewalks and educates riders about lithium-ion battery safety so they can prevent fires.

I look to the recent wave of e-bikes as a start, and experts predict that millions more of these vehicles will hit the pavement in the coming years. That’s why it’s so important to us to think about e-bike insurance the same way we think about helmets — as a precaution that everyone needs to take.

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