If you live in any major city, you’ve probably seen a significant increase in people buying and renting electric bicycles. Even in suburbs and small towns, e-bikes are becoming increasingly more common. Though the first models of E-bikes emerged in the late 90s to early 2000s, the modern version you see today did not gain popularity until the late 2010s. By 2021, E-bike sales had gone up 240% with close to 790,000 bikes imported in that year alone. Aside from the fact that the technology can assist bikers in challenging routes and provide an alternative to cars and public transportation, they are most known for their low pollution contribution and overall transportation emission reduction. The list of benefits is undeniable, but the main challenge has been identifying the liability for e-bikes and building insurance programs to cover them. Here we explore the different options for coverage, and whether or not you need insurance.
Why Should You Insure Your E-Bike?
Before we dive into the options for coverage, let's discuss why you would want to get coverage in the first place. E-bikes, though a much smaller investment than a car, can still come at a steep price. If you’re looking to purchase a high-quality e-bike that will last on a budget, you’re likely going to put $2,000 to $3,000 dollars into it. Once you start exploring higher-end options, the price point can reach upwards of $12,000.
At the same time, e-bikes come with a lot of liability risks. They are much more powerful than a standard pedal bike and are sharing the road with cars, trucks, and pedestrians. Though most safe riders will stick to the bike lane when they can, because the e-bike lifestyle is so new, there are many states and cities lacking proper regulation and bike lane expansion. That means in many cases, e-bikes are sharing the same road space as these much larger vehicles. There is a risk of accidents, and damage to the biker as well as others on the road. Liability insurance is important in the event something does happen, and there are costs associated with damage to other's property or individuals themselves. Additionally, if you are at fault for an accident involving a car, you will be held liable for costs associated with the damage even if you don’t have any type of car insurance.
The Three Classes of E-Bikes
In some states, e-bikes are considered motorized vehicles. However, in the year 2021 many lawmakers fought to replace this understanding with a classification system specific to e-bikes. There are now 3 classes of e-bikes, and are defined as the following:
- Class 1 Electric Bicycle - Defined as a bicycle equipped with an electric motor that can only assist the rider while actively pedaling up to speeds of 20 MPH.
- Class 2 Electric Bicycle - Defined as a bicycle equipped with an electric motor that is also limited to a top speed of 20MPH, but has throttles that work when you're not pedaling.
- Class 3 Electric Bicycle - Defined as a bicycle equipped with an electric motor that may or may not have a throttle, but can assist up to 28 MPH.
There are no current laws mandating insurance for any of these classes of e-bikes. However, regulations vary from state to state and you should check online under your jurisdiction to be sure you are compliant. Some more powerful e-bikes outside of these 3 classes may require coverage and registration.
Will Your Homeowner's, Auto, or Renters Insurance CoverageYour E-Bike?
The short answer is no, most homeowners, renters, and auto insurance will have either no coverage for an e-bike or very limited coverage. Because e-bikes are considered a type of motorized vehicle, they will require their own stand-alone coverage to be fully insured. If they are included in any of your standard insurance packages, the exclusions will likely not make for good coverage in the event of a claim. In addition to standard e-bikes being considered motor vehicles, they aren’t required to have any type of license or registration. This makes it very difficult for auto insurance underwriters to understand the risk associated with each individual rider, and poses additional risk to other drivers using the covered e-bike.
Options for E-Bike Insurance Coverage
There are two options for getting your e-bike fully insured. You can purchase a standalone e-bike policy, which can be found through a wide variety of e-bike companies or more recently, major insurance carriers like Progressive and Markel. The other option is to purchase an endorsement of your pre-existing policies.
What Coverage does E-Bike Insurance Include?
E-bike insurance will cover a range of liabilities. Most policies will include worldwide coverage, which extends your protection outside of your registered state. It will include coverage for the bike itself, in case there is any damage or repairs needed. Similar to an auto policy, it will have coverage for injury or property damage to others. A strong policy will also likely include uninsured motorist coverage so if you get into an accident and the at-fault driver does not have your policy will cover your medical expenses and damages. Some policies may also offer coverage for theft, vandalism, damage while being transported, and taxi fare reimbursement.
Understand Your Insurance Options with ECBM
While there are no current laws regulating the need for e-bike insurance, it is a choice most people make willingly. With e-bikes being costly purchases, and their risk being quite high, it’s in your best interest to secure some type of coverage. ECBM can help you endorse this coverage onto pre-existing insurance packages, or find standalone coverage for your e-bike. Find out which option is best for you by contacting one of our agents today.