28 May 2021

As injuries mount, e-scooter operators increase insurance cover

| Lottie Twyford
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Rack of e-scooters

Would you feel more comfortable jumping on an e-scooter if you knew you were insured? Photo: Michelle Kroll.

There’s a pretty good chance you not only know somebody who has ridden an e-scooter in Canberra, but also someone who has either had an incident or near miss with one.

In response to these concerns, one of the e-scooter companies currently operating in the ACT, Neuron Mobility, has recently begun providing third-party rider liability insurance.

At this stage, the insurance policy will cover injuries sustained by any third-party as well as accidental property damage.

The ACT’s other e-scooter operator, Beam, issued a statement saying the company is currently working with national providers and is also looking to offer third-party insurance.

Currently, Beam offers personal accident insurance to riders.

READ ALSO Night-time ‘fishing’ all part of the job for Canberra’s scooter crew

BAL Lawyers special counsel Bill McCarthy called the increased cover provided by Neuron Mobility a “smart move”.

“Even though riders may be unaware of their legal liability to others, the insurance will also cover personal liability, giving comfort to those riders obeying the road rules and terms of service who happen to damage someone else’s property, or worse, injure a pedestrian,” he said.

However, Mr McCarthy did acknowledge there are common limits and exclusions to the policy.

The terms and conditions state that if any rules or terms of service are breached, riders will not be covered by the insurance policy.

Only riders between the ages of 16 and 75 are covered – although Neuron Mobility riders are legally obliged to be aged 18 years and above – and they must wear a helmet and be free from the influence of alcohol or any other drug at the time of riding.

Exterior of Canberra Hospital

Hospital emergency departments, doctors and physiotherapists have all had increased numbers of patients presenting e-scooter injuries. Photo: File.

Mr McCarthy also added that if he were to ride a scooter, he would make his selection on the basis of this level of insurance cover being provided.

The insurance cover is timely given the numerous reports of e-scooter injuries in Canberra.

It appears several of these patients are not only presenting to hospital emergency departments, but undergoing longer-term rehabilitation and physiotherapist treatment.

Canberra physiotherapist Matthew Croger said his practice has experienced a number of patients presenting e-scooter injuries since the two-wheelers’ introduction to the ACT in late 2020.

His team has treated patients for elbow tendon ruptures, fractured ribs, rib cartilage injuries, and one rider who scraped his leg while riding and subsequently got an infection.

“The injuries we see are reasonably significant so you’re generally looking at six weeks in a cast and then a recovery time frame of six months or so afterwards,” said Mr Croger.

The most severe injury was with a man who tried to duck under a branch while riding an e-scooter.

“He managed to hit the branch and actually have it rupture his ear drum,” said Mr Croger.

He added it was surprising that since e-scooters were introduced, it was initially predominantly older members of the community who were more likely to present with injuries.

“Our earliest injuries were generally in the 55-plus age bracket who might have been on the way home from a nice dinner in Braddon, for example,” said Mr Croger.

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However, now he is seeing most patients fall within the 20-to-30 age group.

Mr Croger said it might still be young people who are more likely to be ‘hooning’ around, however if these people aren’t drinking and are just travelling quickly, injuries might be less serious as their reflexes are quicker.

“We’ve seen a lot of trauma-based injuries such as fractures, and these are often related to the misuse of the scooters, such as doubling up on one, or riding after a drink.”

One issue can be riding on uneven footpaths in the dark, however Mr Croger hasn’t seen any evidence of collision-based injuries.

He expects a decline in e-scooter injuries now that the colder months have arrived and people are more likely to choose other modes of transport.

He reminded all e-scooter riders to be careful when there is a change in terrain, especially on old, unmaintained footpaths.

“And please don’t drink and drive, or double up when you pick an e-scooter,” he urged.

A spokesperson for ACT Policing echoed this sentiment.

“While no riders have been charged with drink-driving, a number of cautions have been issued and police urge riders to consider their own and other people’s safety,” said the spokesperson.

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