Lawyers call for e-scooter safety and insurance reform
9th Nov 2023
E-scooters are an increasingly popular form of transport but can currently fall through the gaps in regulatory and insurance systems, the Australian Lawyers Alliance said today.
“Current insurance coverage requirements mean that injuries caused by e-scooters can leave the injured person unable to recover damages and the rider of the e-scooter financially vulnerable to significant compensation claims,” said Mr Shaun Marcus, National President, Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).
The ALA is calling for a detailed review of the insurance and regulation options for e-scooters and the development of a system that ensures all riders – e-scooter owners and those who hire e-scooters alike – have appropriate insurance cover wherever they are in Australia.
“At present, some e-scooter riders are covered in relation to some accidents. However, that coverage is an inconsistent patchwork. There is also insufficient public information available about insurance arrangements for e-scooters and many riders are not aware that they may not be covered if they do have an accident,” said Mr Marcus.
“E-scooters can and do, cause significant injury and there are reports of significant increases in e-scooter accidents in Australia in the last 12 months.
“We need to ensure that members of the public are not left without the ability to recoup compensation against an e-scooter rider because the e-scooter owner has no insurance or the exclusions in the commercial e-scooter operators’ insurance policies mean they are not covered.
“Some e-scooter owners may be covered by the public liability extension on a domestic home and contents policy. However, the existence of this coverage is effectively random as far as the victim is concerned and it has its limits.
“Others are covered by the insurance policies provided by commercial e-scooter hire companies but these policies can also be quite limited and have multiple exclusion clauses.
“These arrangements are entirely unsatisfactory in relation to both accident victims and e-scooter riders. We urge state and territory governments to review and improve insurance coverage requirements, to strengthen the relevant pieces of legislation, and to ensure e-scooter users are better informed about the rules and their own liability.
“As a first step, mandating that commercial e-scooter hire companies offer high-level insurance, which covers both riders and any injured members of the general public, would help address the problem. Private owners of e-scooters should have the ability to purchase their own insurance, including third-party insurance, especially when they are allowed to ride their e-scooter on public roads and in public areas. There are currently no products on the market that offer this insurance.”