Insurers are warning e-scooter riders, pedestrians and drivers to be careful after seeing a rise in people reporting accidents involving the devices, new research has revealed.
Many continue to ride electric scooters illegally in public, with 52 accidents registered this year, according to data from Admiral.
This is four times’ the amount compared reported to the insurance giant between January and June 2020.
It added the data shows there is a trend in the number of accidents involving drivers and e-scooter riders, believing the number of accidents will continue to rise.
There’s been a rise in accidents involving e-scooters with experts asking people to be careful
The incidents are those involving Admiral customers and e-scooter riders reported to the insurer as opposed to the number of claims as policyholders currently can’t claim against the e-scooter rider.
However, they can claim on their own policy if they have comprehensive cover and there is damage to their car.
Are e-scooters illegal?
Currently, the rules state that anyone who owns a private e-scooter cannot ride on public roads, pavements or cycle lanes.
However, since July last year the Government has been running a trial on the use of rented e-scooters in 32 areas of England.
These legal trials allow rented electric scooters on public roads, cycle paths and lanes as part of its review of transport.
During the trial, which has been extended to more areas during the course of the trial year, e-scooters have been classified as motor vehicles and those using them require a driving licence and insurance to ride one.
E-scooters in trials need to be covered by a motor vehicle insurance policy but rental providers should give users cover.
But I’ve seen e-scooters in public…
However, there is still a large number of people riding e-scooters illegally in public.
Those who are caught doing so could be given an on-the-spot £300 fine, face penalty points on their drivers licence or have their scooter seized by the police.
Since e-scooters are a vehicle, any accidents would also have to be declared to the insurer, which could affect future premiums.
The consequences are even more severe for newly qualified drivers who are only allowed six points on their licence in the first two years of driving, so could end up losing it.
To be allowed on the roads again, they must reapply for a provisional licence and re-take both the theory and practical parts of the driving test.
Adam Gavin, deputy head of claims at Admiral, said: ‘With e-scooter trials now taking place in more than 30 locations across England, there’s no doubt they’re going to become even more popular on our roads as they offer a cheap, easy and environmentally friendly way for people to get around.
‘However, with the rise in the number of people using e-scooters comes an increase in risk for all road users, including motorists who have an additional hazard to look out for.’
Aviva has received motor insurance claims where the other vehicle involved was an e-scooter
Do I need insurance for a privately owned e-scooter?
If someone owns an e-scooter and uses it on private land, the rider should think about whether to take out specialist e-scooter insurance to protect against things such as theft and accidental damage, as well as additional public liability protection.
As it is currently not permitted to drive privately owned e-scooters on public roads, pathways or cycle lanes, motor insurance cover is not provided for private users.
Rental electric scooters must have motor insurance but the rider doesn’t need to arrange this as it will be provided by the e-scooter rental operator.
Why has there been a rise in accidents?
With more people taking to the roads with e-scooters – either illegally or rented – there has been more accidents taking place involving both motorists and pedestrians.
Insurers say they have noted the increase in cases and are advising customers to be careful.
Aviva said it has seen a number of motor insurance claims where the other vehicle involved was an e-scooter.
It is concerned about the potential for serious injury or worse for e-scooter riders, and is urging them to follow the rules of the road and use the vehicle as intended.
There is still a large number of people riding e-scooters illegally in public, causing accidents
The insurer said one of the biggest risks to e-scooter riders is the quality of road surfaces as the small size of the e-scooter tyre means a small defect in a road surface is a much bigger risk than it is for other road users with the risk magnified at night when visibility is poor.
Gavin said: ‘We think this could just be the tip of the iceberg as many cases go unreported and as more people use e-scooters and roads get busier we believe the number of accidents will increase.
‘When lockdown restrictions ease across the UK and people start commuting once again, we want to remind all road users to be more alert to try and prevent serious accidents.
‘Motorists need to be aware of the additional e-scooter traffic and be extra vigilant, while anyone looking to hire the devices need to keep themselves and others safe.’
Admiral is advising riders to wear a helmet, make sure they have a valid provisional driving licence and double check the rental e-scooter operator has the correct insurance so they know they’re protected in case of an accident.
Ryan Fulthorpe of GoCompare Car Insurance added: ‘It is good to see a largely successful trial roll out of e-scooters as they have become very popular, but we still don’t have a clear path forward for their legal use on public roads.
‘There is a danger that because people see them being used illegally, or see people using them as part of the approved trials, they assume it is fine to ride one themselves.
‘Realistically, we are still some way off having a proper legal framework for their private use on UK roads, and in the meantime, we need to ensure people understand the risks.’