Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Will E-bike Insurance Ruin Your Ride?

By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

E-bikes are all the rage.  You see them whizzing down the street or past you on the sidewalk nearly every day.  For some, the allure of electric 2-wheel locomotion is a more environmentally friendly way to commute than a gas guzzling car.  For others, it's an entree to a side gig as a courier or delivery driver.  Any way you look at it, the cost of owning and operating an e-bike is far less than any conveyance that relies on an internal combustion engine.   As an added incentive, e-bike owners don't have to register or insure their rides, as do motorcycle or gas-powered scooter owners.  Well, all that is fixing to change in the Garden State if New Jersey legislators have their way.  A new bill, if enacted, will require all owners of e-bikes to both register and insure these vehicles with the state.  While proposed as a safety measure, this legislation has some e-bike owners up in arms, particularly those whose incomes are based on e-bikes or others who simply can't afford to own and operate a gas-powered motor vehicle.

 New jersey Bill S2292 is being touted as a means of treating e-bike and e-scooter riders much as the state does owners of motorcycles and gas-powered scooters, who are required to register and insure their bikes.  Support for the legislation was predicated on the rising number of crashes and fatalities that have been reported for e-bikes and e-scooters, some of which can reach speeds of 30MPH.  Until now, e-bikes have been classified as consumer products like pedal-powered bicycles, none of which require the owner to register or insure them.  However, during the period of 2017-2021 there were thousands of crashes involving e-bikes and scooters, including 119 fatalities.   Those who oppose the bill point out that during the same period there were 192,709 fatalities reported from auto crashes.  Still, the bill is making its way through the state house.

New Jersey isn't alone in its bid to regulate e-bikes and scooters. Eight states, including Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, and North Dakota require owners to register  their e-bikes.  (Some of these states also require that e-bikes be licensed as well.) This is predominantly due to the way that these states classify e-bikes as motor-driven vehicles in their state.  Other states require license and registration of e-bikes designed to exceed 25 MPH. Click on this link to see a state by state breakdown of e-bike regulations.

Image courtesy Pixabay

In New York City, e-bikes currently aren't required to be registered or licensed, even though mopeds are.  However, NYC recently passed legislation designed to limit the use of e-bikes.  Class 1, 2 and 3 e-bikes which go no faster than 25 MPH are permitted on streets with posted speed limits of no more than 30 MPH, provided that the rider is 16 years of age or older.  E-bikes are prohibited to ride on streets where the speed limit is 35 MPH or higher, as well as some city parks.  A recent spate of accidents and 23 deaths in NYC involving e-bikes and three pedestrian fatalities attributed to e-bikes has prompted the city to reevaluate the rules that govern electric street vehicles. While no politician has yet stepped forward to propose additional legislation, that could be due to an earlier attempt to ban e-bikes from public housing due to devastating battery fires.  This legislation died in committee after it drew a firestorm of protests from residents who owned e-bikes.  That hasn't stopped NYC landlords from banning e-bikes from being stored in their properties, nor has it stopped the NYPD from issuing thousands of tickets to city e-bike riders who flout local traffic ordinances.

Why all the hubbub over e-bikes?

While pedal-driven bicycle owners from coast to coast have always been excluded from having to register, license, and insure their rides, e-bikes are quickly becoming considered a different breed of cat in certain municipalities.  That's primarily due to the facts that e-bikes are much heavier and faster than pedal bikes.  As a result, they take much longer to brake and they can confuse pedestrians who may mistake them for pedal-powered bikes, only to wind up being hit by them when using a crosswalk.  Some e-bike riders, just like some car owners, tend to be more aggressive than others when taking to the street.  Other problems ensue when riders who have little or no experience on e-bikes initially own or rent them only to discover that they aren't prepared to deal with the speeds that these bikes can achieve.  

Does the public really need to insure their e-bikes?

Image courtesy Pixabay

There's good news and bad news with regard to insurance coverage for e-bikes.  The good news is that your homeowner's insurance may cover the theft of an e-bike, depending on its value.  Additionally, e-bike owners in Florida are covered for 80% of up to $10,000 in emergency medical bills provided they carry auto insurance.  The bad news is that depending on where you live and how much your e-bike is worth, you'd best check your insurance limits and exclusions before you take to the road.   You should also make sure you check your liability limits in case you ever injure someone else while riding an e-bike.  If you decide to buy your non-licensed teenager an e-bike, it wouldn't hurt to touch base with your insurance agent to find out the risks you face if your child should cause an accident.  While e-bike insurance won't necessarily ruin your ride, a lawsuit just might.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/

1 comment:

  1. What lawmakers also do is require e-bike owners to wear helmets. Take a tumble from a bike going 25 MPH without one and you're likely to wind up in the ER.

    ReplyDelete

How to Keep Facebook from Turning Into Facecrook

By Catherine Powell Image courtesy Alpha Stock Images Facebook is by far the world's most popular social network with more than 3 billio...