Commercial e-scooter hire companies should be required to offer high-level insurance protecting both riders and any injured party, Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) National President Shaun Marcus says.
Private owners of e-scooters also need full access to insurance, he says, including third-party cover.
“There are currently no products on the market that offer this insurance,” Mr Marcus said.
Under current requirements, injuries caused by e-scooters can leave people unable to recover damages, and the rider of the e-scooter vulnerable to significant compensation claims. E-scooters can cause significant injury but “fall through the gaps” in insurance and regulatory regimes, ALA says.
It wants a detailed review of the insurance and regulation options for e-scooters and development of a system that ensures e-scooter owners, as well as those who hire e-scooters, have appropriate insurance cover.
Coverage for e-scooter accidents is “an inconsistent patchwork,” Mr Marcus says, and there is insufficient information available about arrangements.
“Many riders are not aware that they may not be covered if they do have an accident,” he said. “We need to ensure 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.”
Research funded by RACQ earlier this year found workers’ compensation claims for e-scooter crashes have more than tripled in three years, with almost 16 claims made on average every month in 2022, up from less than five in 2019.
There were 421 e-scooter-related workers’ compensation claims made between the end of 2018 and October last year. Most claims were made by males, while roughly a third of claimants were aged 25-34 and a quarter 35-44.
Some e-scooter owners may be covered by a public liability extension on a domestic home and contents policy, but Mr Marcus says this coverage is “effectively random as far as the victim is concerned and it has its limits”. Insurance policies provided by commercial e-scooter hire firms may be limited by multiple exclusion clauses, he says.
“These arrangements are entirely unsatisfactory in relation to both accident victims and e-scooter riders.