“Scooters . . . Are You Insured?”

“Scooters . . . Are You Insured?”

When growing up as a child, I fondly recall the red scooter I got from Santa. They were very popular when I was a kid, but then disappeared from favor for many years…until just recently when I received a fax from an agent showing an ad for the new wave of scooters with a note asking, “Does the homeowners policy cover this?”

This proves that, if you wait long enough (35 years in this case), any toy or style of dress will come back. (Maybe I can dig out my old double-knit slacks and leisure suits!) In the past few months I’ve seen a half dozen articles about these new scooters which go by the trade names of Razors or Xootrs. The news stories about the scooters stated that the cost varies from about $100 to as much as $600. Even as new as they are, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that, to-date in 2000, there have been 9,400 reports of injuries sustained by people riding them, with 90% being children younger than age 15. Between 2 million and 5 million scooters are expected to be sold this year. Riders are urged to wear appropriate safety equipment such as a helmet, knee pads, and wrist guards.

Under a homeowners policy the scooter would be covered as personal property subject to the deductible. As long as it is not motorized (some larger models are), it would not qualify as a “motor vehicle” and therefore there are no unique exclusions or special limits applying to the scooter. Additionally, it would be covered for common perils such as theft on or off premises, anywhere in the world. For liability coverage, if the scooter is not motorized, there are no exclusions for bodily injury or property damage caused by “an insured” (which includes the resident children of the insured) while operating the scooter.

A word of caution though…one news story mentioned the fact that many scooters are used in large warehouses to allow employees to get around quicker. This would likely qualify as business use and coverage would not be provided by the unendorsed homeowners policy. As a side note, if the scooter is motorized, a literal reading of the form would likely void coverage under both Section I and Section II of the homeowners policy by invoking the motor vehicle exclusion. While a (weak) argument might be made that a scooter is not a “motorized land conveyance,” an assurance of coverage to a client should not be made absent of specific written confirmation of such coverage from the insurance company.

Under a personal auto policy (PAP) an insured would probably be considered a pedestrian on a non-motorized scooter in most states and would have access to PIP coverage (if a no-fault state), medical payments coverage, and uninsured motorist coverage if struck by a vehicle while riding the scooter. If the scooter were motorized, PIP and medical payments likely would not apply based on a literal reading of the policy. (This could be subject to some debate though since one Florida court ruled a moped was not a motorized vehicle and granted PIP coverage to an occupant…check your state’s no-fault statutes and case law for applicability.) Uninsured motorist coverage would apply for the operator of motorized scooter if struck by a motor vehicle. Any bodily injury or property damage caused while operating the scooter (motorized or not) would not be covered by the PAP.

Under commercial insurance policies there are no unique coverage exclusions. If the scooter were owned by the commercial insured, the building and personal property coverage form would afford coverage at the described premises and within 100 feet of the premises for the perils listed in the causes of loss form. There is also up to $10,000 of off-premises coverage under certain restrictive situations. The commercial general liability policy would provide coverage for the named insured and employee if “an insured” caused bodily injury or property damage while riding the scooter. The workers compensation policy would cover work-related injuries like any other work-related injury.

With the frequency of injuries sustained while riding scooters increasing, it appears that the major problem is not insurance, but instead is rider safety. Good risk management seems appropriate by way of proper user training and supervision, as well as the proper use of safety equipment including helmets, knee and elbow pads, and gloves as a minimum…the way some kids ride them, full body armor might be more appropriate.

For once, insurance seems to have not been a problem for a new fad. It doesn’t happen often, so for all you scooter riders out there, don the safety equipment and enjoy the ride. “Go, and may the insurance be with you!”

Copyright 2000 by the Florida Association of Insurance Agents. Reprinted with permission.

NOTE: Policy coverages and circumstances can change at any time, so the information above may not be accurate at the time of reprinting or subsequently to that time. IIABA does not assume and has no responsibility for liability or damage which may result from the use of any of this information. The most current, up to date version of this article can be found at IIABA’s Virtual University at http://vu.iiaa.net.