When was the last time you went for a bike ride? In terms of popularity across America, bicycling ranks right up there near running, fishing and hiking. One rapidly growing trend in bicycling is the electric bike. If you haven’t seen many e-bikes around yet, you soon will. Interest in e-bikes is soaring and only expected to grow. But how safe are they, and is your e-bike covered by insurance?
Why choose an e-bike?
First, the basics. Powered by battery, e-bikes are motorized to assist with pedaling so you can go for longer rides, climb hills more easily, and ride faster (some can go as fast as 28 miles per hour). People use e-bikes for exercise and transportation, including commuting (carbon-free transportation), shopping (cargo bikes), riding around the neighborhood (road bikes), mountain biking, beach cruising, and even tandem riding.
Typical battery life ranges from 25 to 50 miles per charge, depending on e-bike model, the type of riding you do, how much stuff you are hauling, and how many hills you encounter.
Most of us still ride a traditional type of bike, propelled by good old-fashioned foot peddling. So why go with an e-bike? If you look at the reviews on e-bike websites, you will find that a good number of older or formerly more active adults are choosing e-bikes. Reasons cited: e-bikes can help people ease back into shape or simply make riding less taxing while still offering good-quality exercise. E-bikes have even been found to increase cycling activity among regular riders.
Some e-bike riders find them to be practical or environmentally friendly ways to commute to and from work and run errands. Still others appreciate the ability to ride longer distances, providing an opportunity for increased workout flexibility. Whatever the motivation, the popularity of e-bikes continues to rise.
Before you hop on and take off on your new e-bike, consider a few important safety tips. Preliminary research indicates that e-bike users have a higher rate of collisions with pedestrians than motorized scooters or regular bicycles. Additionally, e-bike accidents appear to result in more severe injury than those involving regular bikes. Notably, the risk for internal injury appears to be greater, most likely due to the higher speeds of travel and lack of training and experience by riders. Another factor is a lack of biking infrastructure (e.g., biking lanes) in cities and towns across the country.
The key takeaway from this research is to practice proper safety protocols: Always wear a helmet, stay alert and obey traffic rules. Just as important, riders should take time to learn how to operate an e-bike properly and safely. As a motor-assisted vehicle, it has significantly more kick than a foot-powered bike. Before heading out into the neighborhood or city traffic, riders should practice in a protected area such as a parking lot or closed road. Bottom line: make sure you are competent in handling the e-bike.
Are e-bikes covered by insurance?
Purchasing an e-bike can be a big investment, depending on the type of motor and other features. Prices can range from as low as $600 up to $8,000 for a top-of-the-line model. Once you have done your homework and selected the best bike for your needs, it’s time to think about insurance. Will your insurance cover the value of your e-bike? What about if you are injured or injure someone else while riding? The type and amount of coverage depend on the policy, which, in turn, depends on the carrier.
Some companies will offer the option to add your e-bike (as a vehicle) to your auto policy for an additional premium. Some carriers offer e-bike coverage as personal property under the homeowner policy. In this case, damage, loss or theft of your e-bike may be subject to the home deductible. Additionally, liability coverage may extend to injury caused to another person while riding the e-bike.
Other insurance companies offer the option to “schedule” (itemize for additional coverage) the e-bike on the homeowner policy, which is usually not subject to a deductible in the event the bike is damaged, lost or stolen. The smartest thing to do is contact your Bradish agent to find out whether your e-bike is covered by insurance, or how it can be. Happy riding!
by Kris A. Mainellis