With the blur of battery-operated scooters that whiz by these days, city streets have become a veritable Scootergeddon of Limes, Birds and Jumps. Luckily for fleet operators, these two-wheeled wonders are here to stay.
San Francisco is doubling down on electric scooters this year, with its fleet growing from 1,250 to 2,500. Inevitably, this surge means more crashes and road rash. The city's emergency room doctors caution that they're seeing as many as 10 scooter-related injuries a week.
So how can e-scooter platforms make sure their riders are safely insured? Ultimately, it would take a three-pronged approach.
First, there's an awareness play. E-scooter and e-bike platforms don't actively address insurance offerings with would-be riders. I'd advise fleet operators to clearly communicate the risks that riders face. There have been 1,500 scooter-related injuries across the country since 2017. Riders should be prompted to ask themselves, "In the event of an accident, am I covered by insurance?"
Second, fleet operators must communicate coverage and insurance options with full clarity and transparency. The fine print dictates that upon renting an e-scooter or e-bike, every rider agrees to the app's terms of service — which typically dictates users take full responsibility. Most platforms provide coverage in the event of an accident due to faulty equipment, but in the case of human error — things like swiping side mirrors, hitting potholes or losing control after one too many mimosas — users are typically held responsible for all damages and injuries.
Yes, you read that right. Riders are responsible for all damages. In an ideal world, the moment a prospective rider scans your QR code to unlock an electric bike or scooter, your platform's app would prompt riders to click-through an additional page that outlines insurance options.
Truth be told, more and more laws are taking effect that put riders at risk. Some cities don't even allow scooters on sidewalks anymore, which means riders are navigating rush-hour traffic alongside a veritable tsunami of hurried commuters and crosstown buses. Certainly, the greatest risk to scooter riders is drivers on the road. E-scooter and e-bike riders aren't going to come out on top in a head-on collision with a bus. So why put your riders at risk?
Consider adopting the same principles as rental car companies. They have effectively offered on-demand products in the mobility realm for decades. Plus, it would be beneficial to offer a product that also reduces your cost.
Rental car companies have the right logic. Their cars are covered by fleet insurance. As a driver, you have the option to get supplemental liability insurance in case of an accident. I'd advise scooter fleet operators to liaise with third-party insurance providers to keep riders safe and protected in the event of an accident. You'll want to partner with a company that has the ability to provide dynamic insurance policies — personalized insurance plans that prompt the right level of protection at the right time and the right price.