Low-Cost Comprehensive E-Bike Coverage
Aug 18, 2009 Daniel Workman
The secret weapon against high-dollar liabilities arising out of an accident involving an e-bike is the general liability protection umbrella policy. Annual premiums for a million-dollar general liability protection umbrella can be as low as around US$200.
Equipped with a small motor attachment on its back wheel, an electric bicycle weighs about 60 pounds and can reach speeds up to 30 miles per hour. That represents about half the weight of a moped and 65% of that vehicle’s top speed.
Most jurisdictions rule that an e-bike more closely resembles a conventional bicycle, while treating mopeds scooters as low-speed motorcycles. Licensed moped and scooter drivers can buy comprehensive motorcycle insurance. However, an e-biker in the United States cannot.
Without general liability umbrella insurance, electric bicycle owners would face a coverage void, and can be personally responsible for large financial settlements. And, if the courts rule that an e-biker’s negligence was a major factor in causing an accident, the resulting financial liabilities can be devastating.
Need for Comprehensive E-Bike Insurance
Many e-bike riders assume that car and truck drivers are responsible for most road accidents involving a cyclist. According to lawyer Bob Mionske’s Road Rights blog, automobiles are party to only 28.7% of these cycling mishaps. That means that over 70% of cycling accidents are solo crashes or collisions with pedestrians, animals including pets or other cyclists.
Further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that cyclists represented 2% of traffic deaths and 2% of all crash injuries in the U.S.
All these scenarios point to high potential risks and financial liabilities involving millions of dollars in damages.
Types of Electric Bike Insurance
U.S. e-bike owners are forced to cobble together at least 3 different types of insurance to approximate coverage under a comprehensive motorcycle insurance policy:
* Third-party liability insurance that covers injuries and damages to another person or property.
* Medical protection for injuries to the bicyclist in case of an accident
* Insurance for the bicycle itself against damages or theft.
Third-Party E-Bike Liability Insurance
If an e-biker is found guilty of causing damages to a vehicle involved in an accident, the cyclist’s home insurance or renter’s insurance may cover at least a part of these losses. This applies even when the bicyclist is traveling out of state or whose negligence was a major cause of the accident.
Then again, an e-biker’s negligence can lead to a slew of other third-party lawsuits that lead to six and seven-figure settlements covering personal loss of life, injury and vehicle damage claims. This is where the general liability protection umbrella policy remains the most cost-effective option to mitigate the risk of third-party liability. On bikeforums.net, one blogger claims to pay $173.20 in annual premiums for a one-million-dollar general liability protection umbrella policy.
Medical Insurance for an Electric Bicycle Accident
E-bikers may already have group health insurance either through their employer or a professional association. Those health insurance plans will pay medical bills arising from a bicycle accident that happens within the coverage territory specified in the policy.
Cyclists who also drive can be insured for personal injury protection under their automobile insurance policies in certain states. Other states with tort liability laws permit medical payments coverage as part of a car insurance contract.
The uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage of a bicyclist’s auto policy can afford protection if the cyclist is injured by a negligent driver who lacks enough insurance to cover resulting claims. Some states allow an injured e-bike rider to be paid lost earnings while recovering from an accident.
For e-bikers who lack medical coverage, bicycle associations like USA Cycling offer their members low-cost personal insurance against bike accident injuries. USA Cycling’s underwriter, Adventure Advocates, provides 24-hour worldwide accident coverage up to a $25,000 maximum and subject to a $500 deductible for a monthly premium of $35 per individual or $42 per family.
USA Cycling also partners with Nicholas Hill Benefit Group to offer its members health insurance plans with up to $8 million in coverage.
Motorized Bicycle Property Insurance
Home insurance or renter’s insurance policies sometimes cover electric bicycles themselves if they are damaged or lost due to accidents, fires, thefts or acts of vandalism. Motorized bicycle owners should check with their insurance providers to verify whether their bikes are covered for such risks, and for how much.
To buy the most cost-effective e-bike coverage, electric bike owners should start by carefully reviewing their:
* Health and medical care policies
* Home insurance or renter’s insurance policies
* Professional association and cycling club coverage descriptions.
E-bike owner should clarify and verify with a reputable insurance agent exactly what is covered and what is excluded in different accident scenarios.
Also included in the discussion should be a review of the general liability protection umbrella policy. This safety net remains the most economical option to mitigate the risk of excessive medical claims, third-party liability charges and even damages to high-value electric bicycles.
© 2009 Daniel Workman