Are e-bike owners required to carry insurance? Does your homeowner’s insurance cover your e-bike if it’s stolen or damaged? Will your auto insurance cover you? Can you buy insurance that specifically covers e-bikes?
Lots of questions come up when we’re talking about e-bikes, but the answers aren’t as clear-cut as we’d like.
Mostly, that’s because insurance companies are still developing their thinking about e-bikes and just what they will (or won’t) cover, including the extent of liability they might (or might not) assume.
The rising popularity of e-bikes adds a sense of urgency to these questions, as more and more of us fork over big bucks to shops peddling e-bikes that sell for an average of $3,500 but can easily fetch up to $15,000.
For years, e-bikes made up just a sliver of the bike market. But Deloitte says it expects 130 million e-bikes to be sold globally between 2020 and 2023. It also noted that “the number of e-bikes on the roads will easily outpace other e-vehicles by the end of (2020).”
That prediction was made before COVID-19, so may come up short, but you get the point: because they can help their owners make molehills out of mountains, e-bikes are all the rage.
In the U.S., the typical buyers of an e-bike are in their late 50s, often people who want to get back into shape. A 2016 study by researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder found that people who rode an e-bike for 40 minutes three times per week experienced improved cardiovascular health, aerobic capacity and blood-sugar control.
All good stuff, right?
OK, so now let’s tackle some of the questions above, shall we?
First, while laws differ from state to state, few require you to buy insurance for your e-bike. Many, in fact, have thus far exempted e-bikes from registration, licensure and insurance requirements.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you should forgo buying coverage. But you have homeowner’s, you say. Shouldn’t that be enough?
In part, that’s because your homeowner’s policy on its own is unlikely to cover the full cost of replacing your e-bike should it be stolen out of the garage. You’ll want a personal property endorsement or floater to make sure the replacement value of your e-bike is covered, rather than the depreciated value.
Moreover, most homeowner’s policies exclude coverage for damage caused by an insured while operating a “motor vehicle.” E-bikes have motors, of course, but they operate at much lower speeds than, say, a moped or scooter.
Your auto insurance, meanwhile, is unlikely to kick in at all, because, again, e-bikes are not regarded as motorized vehicles. Besides, auto insurance is designed for vehicles with four wheels, not two.
So, finally, can you buy e-bike insurance?
Yes, but be careful. What’s now available may not provide you with the comprehensive coverage you’ll want or need. In fact, it may be rather limited, with gaps and exclusions that will leave you wishing you had left that e-bike parked at home.
The bottom line? Like most things related to insurance, check with your agent.
Mike Rosser is the Vice President of CCIG’s Private Client Group. Reach him at Mike.Rosser@thinkccig.com or at 720-212-2068.
CCIG is a Denver-area insurance, employee benefits and surety brokerage with clients nationwide. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We help you manage your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.
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