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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

What's the Deal on Two Wheels?

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

If you’re into biking of any kind, you know you need to be extra cautious when riding in traffic. That’s because bikes are tougher to see than cars.  Some, such as bicycles, mopeds, and scooters, travel slower than other vehicular traffic.  This means riders are at a disadvantage since traffic routinely overtakes them.  All bikes, including motorcycles, don’t come equipped with seatbelts, which means riders can expect to be ejected should an accident occurs.  This can result in damage or injuries that may not be covered by your existing insurance policy.  If you want to know what to expect from an insurance point of view when you ride a bike, this week’s blog is for you.

1. Does pedal power trump a lead foot? If you are ever involved in an accident involving a motor vehicle that damages or destroys your bike, hopefully, the driver responsible for the damage will offer to cover the loss.  If not, you could be out of pocket unless you have a rider on your homeowner’s policy that covers such a claim.  The only other way to claim a wrecked bike is if it’s stolen, vandalized, burned up in a fire, or has a tree fall on it.  In that case, you could claim the value on your homeowner’s policy minus the deductible.   Since some bikes these days are worth thousands of dollars, their loss can represent a financial hardship to the owners.  When it comes to injuries sustained after a bike vs. vehicle accident, there’s no guarantee the at-fault driver’s auto insurance will cover your medical bills and lost wages.  While most auto policies cover medical expenses and lost wages done to those who were hit, those are limited.  PIP coverage can be as low as $10,000 in Florida, which may be woefully inadequate to cover the medical bills of a cyclist who is hit by a car or truck.  

2. Have you recently purchased an e-bike?  Fear not if you live in Florida.  Even though an e-bike has a motor and sometimes even a throttle that can take it to speeds up to 20 MPH, the Florida Legislature currently considers the vehicle a bicycle. That means you can treat it as such and are not required to register or license your e-bike.  You also aren’t required to carry insurance to legally operate an e-bike in Florida. The only exception to the rule is that children under 16 are not currently permitted to legally drive or ride on e-bikes in Florida.  

3. Are mopeds considered motorbikes? They are, provided the model you own has pedals and an internal combustion engine of 50 ccs or less, has 3 wheels or less, whose motor can propel it no faster than 30 MPH on level ground. A moped is permitted to be operated on the road provided it’s registered with the state.  However, no title is required, nor is insurance.  Additionally, the rider is required to be at least 16 years old and possess either a Class E or a motorcycle license to be street legal.  Mopeds in Florida are required to carry license plates.  They are legal to operate on all state roads with the exception of highways.  While moped drivers aren’t required to wear helmets or eye protection, any passenger younger than 16 is required to wear a helmet. Moped operators are also required to adhere to all applicable driving rules.  That means you can be cited for a DUI while operating a moped. They are also prohibited from riding on sidewalks or bike paths in Florida and are required to hug the right-hand curb to allow faster traffic to pass unless making a lefthand turn.  While a moped operator isn’t required to show proof of insurance to register a moped, they may still be held liable for injuries or property damage if they are involved in an accident.

4. Why should those who scoot give a hoot? Motor scooters have become a popular form of 2-wheeled transportation.  They are a fuel-efficient form of local transport whether powered by an internal combustion engine or electric motor.  Provided the scooter has an engine displacement of 50 ccs or less, and/or a top speed of 30 MPH or less, they are street legal.  Like a moped, scooters are required to be registered and licensed.  However, unlike mopeds, scooters are required to be titled in Florida.  You also need to be at least 16 years old and a licensed driver to legally operate a scooter.  Carrying a passenger of any kind on a scooter is prohibited.  You’re required to adhere to all applicable laws and are not permitted to operate on any pavements, bike paths, or highways.  While insurance isn’t required, if you should be found to be at fault in an accident, you could be held financially responsible for injuries and/or property damage.

5. What’s the difference between a scooter and a motorized scooter? One has a seat, and the other doesn’t.  If you own the type that is both self-propelled and requires you to stand up, you’ll need to check with your local municipality to see if they’re street legal.  If you’re caught using a motorized scooter on a sidewalk, bike path, or road where they’re prohibited by law, you can receive a citation or even wind up being arrested for operating an unregistered motor vehicle.  

6. What makes a bike a motorcycle? If you currently own a 2 or 3-wheeled bike that has an internal combustion engine or electric motor rated at 50 ccs or above, it’s considered a motorcycle under Florida law.  As such, to legally operate the vehicle, you’ll need both a driver’s license and a motorcycle endorsement.  You’re legally permitted to ride a motorcycle in Florida without a helmet, provided you wear eye protection and carry a minimum of $20,000 in injury liability and $10,000 in property damage coverage.  (Florida PIP laws do not apply to motorcycles.)  The requirements to receive a motorcycle endorsement are that you’re at least 21 years old and have completed a Basic Rider Course at an authorized training facility.  You then need to visit a tax collection office to show a certificate of completion and pay the accompanying fee.  Unlike bicycles, mopeds, or scooters, all motorcycles are required to operate their headlights both day and night.  In Florida, failure to use daytime headlights on a motorcycle may be used as evidence in the case of a crash.

7. Are you considering riding a bike of any kind? Take the time to give your agent a call to discuss your insurance needs. This way if you ever are involved in an accident on your bike, you won’t find yourself riding off into the sunset financially.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/


1 comment:

  1. Also make sure you buy lights if you intend to ride a bicycle at night.

    ReplyDelete

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