Over the past four years, electric scooter injuries have reached nearly 40,000. These injuries include broken bones, cuts and bruises, and head injuries.
These staggering numbers often leave many Americans wondering—what are the insurance requirements for these vehicles?
Generally speaking, mopeds, scooters, and electric bicycles are small, lightweight vehicles. They are usually powered by pedaling and/or a battery or small gasoline engine.
Most states have now made motorcycle insurance legally mandatory—this holds for any engine 50cc or greater. But for smaller vehicles, cycle insurance is not always required. Exact requirements will vary by state.
While insurance may not be required for scooters, mopeds, or electric bikes in your state, it is usually still a good idea.
Just like with motorcycle or car insurance, it serves to protect you and your property. Plus, some lenders may also require physical damage coverage if you decide to finance your bike.
With such a great potential for damage or injury, it’s better to be safe than sorry. For more information about electric scooter, moped, and electric bike insurance—keep reading.
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The Emergence of Mopeds, Scooters, and E-Bikes
These vehicles have become particularly popular in recent years. This is especially true with the emergence of motorized scooter rentals in cities. They provide a cheap yet convenient way for consumers to get around the city.
But, they also carry many risks.
Whether it be a rental or one’s own personal vehicle, serious injuries and property damage can occur with their use. Yet, operators are not always aware of the rules and regulations that apply to these vehicles.
It’s important to understand all of the costs, rules, and laws that apply to your new cycle before purchasing.
What to Consider Before Buying
Mopeds, scooters, and e-bikes can be a very convenient way to get around. This is especially true for cities or college campuses where parking is scarce.
Plus, they have a much higher fuel efficiency level as compared to a larger automobile. That being said, mopeds and scooters, in particular, have added costs (like gas) to factor in when considering making a purchase.
When driving on the roadway, these vehicles are subject to the same laws and regulations as other vehicles. However, many state highways or limited access roads prohibit these types of motorized vehicles from traveling.
Their lack of lighting should also be considered. Especially at night, it can be difficult for other drivers to spot these vehicles.
Moped or motor scooter drivers on the roadway should be especially diligent in protecting themselves with added lights and reflective gear. Furthermore, they should remain aware of their surroundings at all times.
All in all, there are so many benefits to owning these types of motorized vehicles. But, there are also other important factors to take into account for each vehicle.
Mopeds have been around since the early 1950s. They provide a convenient way to get around for people with limited space or limited budgets.
Since that time, moped technology has greatly improved. The models on the market today are much safer and more fuel-efficient than their predecessors.
Sometimes, “mopeds” and “scooters” are used interchangeably. But, they actually have a few key differences that set them apart.
Mopeds may or may not have pedals. Generally, they have smaller engines with less capacity (usually 49cc and under). They also feature an automatic transmission.
While these vehicles are commonly used on the roadway, they are usually unable to exceed 30mph. This can make it difficult to keep up with traffic in higher-speed areas.
From here, state laws will vary. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for example, the following regulations apply:
- Mopeds cannot exceed 25mph
- Drivers must wear a US DOT standard helmet
- Must be 16 years or older
- Must have a valid license or permit
Plus, mopeds mostly do not have brake lights or turn signals. This means the driver must be diligent, signing their intention to stop or turn.
Unlike mopeds, scooters have a step-through design. This comes with a platform for the operator to rest their feet.
Some scooters are considered more powerful motorized vehicles than mopeds. These tend to have engines with a greater power capacity—50cc to 150cc. Therefore, these models can reach higher speeds.
Other scooters are created with lower-powered or battery-powered engines. While there are key differences between motorized and electric scooters, most states categorize them into one designation for legal and regulatory purposes.
Again, individual states may impose differing laws. Under Massachusetts law, the following applies:
- Scooters cannot exceed 20mph
- Drivers must wear a US DOT standard helmet
- Must be 16 years or older
- Must have a valid license or permit
Large motor scooters can also exceed this category, branching out into other areas. If motor scooters exceed speeds of 40mph, they are too large to be considered a scooter.
In this case, they are also too large for other designations like a moped or Limited Use Vehicle. For large motor scooters (125cc or greater), it is then classified as a motorcycle. This requires proper licensing and insurance for this type of vehicle.
Electric bikes have seen an increase in popularity as of late.
These models have pedals, giving you the option of adding a motorized assist. They typically last 25 to 70 miles between charges.
They also offer the option to ride off-road legally. This is great for many trails and bike paths that are off-limits to gas-powered vehicles.
They are typically less expensive than mopeds or scooters, though they lack the larger gas engine that powers the other models. Instead, electric bikes are powered by high-efficiency lithium-ion batteries.
They are especially popular for those looking for a convenient way to get around while reducing their carbon footprint.
But, they tend to be much slower than mopeds or scooters. These vehicles top out at 22mph for the most part. For those commuting a distance, this may not be ideal.
Though, electric bikes do not require a license or registration to operate. Plus, parking is much simpler. Electric bikes can be locked up to a bike rack—meaning you do not have to search around or pay for a parking spot.
Limited Use Vehicles
In some states (like Massachusetts), there is an additional cycle category. This is known as Limited Use Vehicles (LUVs).
These apply to cycles that fall somewhere between a moped or motorized bicycle and a motorcycle. States may define these differently, but in Massachusetts, they are:
- Vehicles with two or three wheels, either a cycle or an enclosed cabin passenger vehicle
- Cycles with a top speed exceeding 30mph but not faster than 40mph
- Vehicles with all-electric or fuel-powered motors
- Legal cycles with a certificate of origin
- Scooters with a 17-character Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Vehicles certified by the manufacturer to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS)
Some mopeds on the market may fall into the LUV category and are thus subject to greater regulation and cycle insurance requirements.
These vehicles do need a full title and registration. They do not require a motorcycle license, though they still require a standard driver’s license or learner’s permit.
Obtaining cycle insurance is different from automobile insurance. The actual coverage requirements will depend on what type of vehicle you have and your state’s laws.
Insurance is usually not required for vehicles with an engine less than 50cc or top speeds below 30mph. For those states that do require it—or savvy consumers who want to protect their property—there are insurance options available.
These different types of cycle insurance function similarly to that of motorcycle insurance. They serve to protect you in the case of damage or injury to another person in the course of an accident on the cycle.
There are various coverages for these motorized vehicles, usually falling under motorcycle insurance categories. Listed below are some of the most important coverages.
Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Coverage (BI/PD)
This liability insurance is automatically included in a moped or electric motor scooter insurance. It pays for injuries you may cause to others in the course of an accident. It also covers other vehicle damage and property damage.
Comprehensive and Collision Coverage
This cycle insurance coverage protects your own vehicle from physical damage. This might include damage from:
- Hitting an animal
- Other incidents out of your control
This coverage pays the cost to repair or replace your bike after an accident with another vehicle or object—even if you’re at fault.
Carried Contents and Belongings Coverage
This coverage protects personal belongings that may be damaged, lost, or stolen while riding. It will usually cover your phone, cameras, and other vulnerable items.
Frequently Asked Questions
While each state carries its own requirements, a few common questions apply to most vehicles. Read on below.
What Happens When You Take the Restrictor Plate off an E-Bike or Moped?
The restrictor plate is a mechanical piece on the vehicle that limits its speed. If this part is removed, the vehicle typically becomes re-classified as a motorcycle.
This would then carry the requirements of a motorcycle to operate on the road. The driver would have to register and title it as such. They would also need to obtain motorcycle insurance and a motorcycle license.
Do You Need Insurance for a Scooter or Moped?
Each state will set individual laws regarding the need for scooter or moped insurance.
In Massachusetts, you are not legally required to insure one of these motorized vehicles. However, there are important benefits for health and financial wellness to opting for this coverage.
If you get into an accident and sustain injuries, your health insurance may cover the needed treatment. But if you sustain damage to your scooter or moped, you are out of luck.
The same goes for injury and damage to other people and their property. Without proper insurance coverages, you are stuck paying these costly bills on your own.
Do You Need Insurance for an Electric Bike?
Insurance for an electric bike is not required. They also do not require a license or registration, making them attractive to a wide variety of consumers who may not be able to obtain a more high-powered vehicle but still need to get around.
While it may not be necessary from a legal standpoint, it is still a good idea to shop around for electric bike coverage.
Especially if you take these vehicles off-road, you may be more likely to sustain damage. This is particularly true for those who enjoy challenging courses.
The potential for damage to your vehicle only increases with greater speed. As such, you may risk injury to yourself or damage to your e-bike that would otherwise come out-of-pocket.
Do You Need Insurance for a Limited Use Vehicle?
In some states, you do need insurance for limited use vehicles.
Massachusetts is one of them. Within the Commonwealth, the following minimum coverage requirements apply:
- Bodily Injury Liability Insurance — $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident
- Property Damage Liability Insurance — $5,000 per accident
- Personal Injury Protection Insurance — $8,000
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage — $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident
It’s also important to note that Massachusetts is a “no-fault” state. This means that personal injury protection is required, regardless of who caused the accident.
Do You Need a License to Be Covered for Insurance on Moped, Scooters, or E-Bikes?
For mopeds and scooters, you do need a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit. For electric bikes, you do not need a license.
Though, it may still be beneficial to obtain additional licensing. For example, completing a motorcycle safety course could lower your insurance rates—even if it is not required by law.
How Much Does Insurance for Scooters and Mopeds Cost?
Just like with auto insurance, rates will depend on a variety of factors. This includes:
- Driving history
- Riding history
- Type of vehicle
- Engine capacity
Policies can range greatly with these factors in mind, potentially between $80 to $300 per year.
Is My Moped/Scooter/E-Bike Covered by Homeowners Insurance When in the Garage?
Even if it is sitting unused in the garage and somehow becomes damaged, these vehicles are typically not covered by your homeowners policy.
This is why it is important to cover your new motorized vehicle in its own policy. This way, it remains protected no matter where it is.
This is still true if you only use the vehicle on your own property. In this case, you may not need full auto insurance that would be required on public roads. Instead, recreational insurance may suffice.