There is a popular new mobility option that has hit the streets in Roanoke – Lime Scooters. In fact, they have not just hit Roanoke’s streets, according to Lime’s website, they have been introduced to more than 100 cities worldwide.

Lime encourages people to ride in the street, use bike lanes when possible, obey the rules of the road and they are also hoping everyone will wear a helmet. In Roanoke, certain areas are restricted – including the Roanoke River Greenway, Market Square and Elmwood Park. Even with these safety precautions in mind, a recent study by Consumer Reports shows that at least eight people died while using a rented electric scooter since the fall of 2017, while another 1,500 were injured, including some who were paralyzed.

A Washington Post article reported that one hospital emergency room has already reported a 161% increase in visits involving electric scooters. While it’s important to keep safety as a top priority while riding an electric scooter, it’s also important to understand that as a rider, you are exposing yourself to liability and are most likely not insured for the damages that you may cause.

What happens if the scooter rider hits and injures a pedestrian, damages someone’s property, or causes a car accident? Who is responsible? Well, the scooter rider may be held responsible, and most insurance policies will not cover these expenses.

The Insurance Journal explains that electric scooter riders might think their auto insurance would kick-in to cover an electric scooter accident, but automobile insurance generally does not cover vehicles with less than four wheels. Homeowners or renters insurance may cover an accident that occurs on a traditional bicycle, but it does not cover motorized bike or scooter trips. Once you motorized that bike or scooter, then the equation changes.

It’s also important that you read the fine print before hopping on a Lime scooter – here is what a section of the rental agreement states:

“By using our services, you agree that you understand these risks, that it is your responsibility to use our services safely and that the entire risk arising out of your use of the services is yours and yours alone. You are responsible for any harm you cause to other people or property. We hereby waive any and all claims, including those in contract, tort (including negligence), statutory and/or any other grounds, even if any of the released parties have been advised of the possibility of such claims.”

We are in no way advising you to not hop on a Lime scooter and ride through downtown, but we wouldn’t be doing our job as safety and risk advisers if we didn’t make you aware of the insurance implications and liability if that ride goes awry.

Your next question might be, well if my auto insurance and homeowners/renters insurance policies generally omit this coverage, how do I protect myself?

Personal Liability Umbrella Insurance: Umbrella insurance is extra liability insurance. If you plan to use an electric scooter, frequently ride bikes, or have outdoor attractions on your property, you should consider an umbrella policy. It provides coverage for injuries, property damage and sometimes lawsuits.

If you’re interested in learning more about protecting yourself from potential liability with electric scooters or other motorized bikes, our personal insurance advisers are always here to help!

Happy scooting!