Bird, a scooter rental company, is passionate about offering clean, care-free alternatives. Eight in 10 people believe car traffic and pollution are problems in their city, 70 percent want new transportation options, and 40 percent of car trips are under 3 miles. Data source: bird.co; photo by Elvert Barnes via flic.kr/p/28PdCuS; some rights reserved.

Renting a city scooter? Check your insurance first

Bird, a scooter rental company, is passionate about offering clean, care-free alternatives. Eight in 10 people believe car traffic and pollution are problems in their city, 70 percent want new transportation options, and 40 percent of car trips are under 3 miles. Data source: bird.co. Photo by Elvert Barnes via flic.kr/p/28PdCuS; some rights reserved.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Scooter sharing services, like Bird and Lime, are a growing alternative transportation means in some urban areas of the U.S. These battery-powered scooters, which can currently be found in Nashville and Memphis, can reach speeds of up to 20 mph and are generally operated on roadways. While the scooters are easy to operate and readily available, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) is urging consumers to always consider the insurance implications of operating a scooter before using one.

In Tennessee, most scooter rental services carry liability insurance to protect motorists injured, or with vehicles damaged, in an accident involving their scooters, but do not provide coverage for the scooter operators. Unless the scooter rental company’s policy indicates otherwise, a scooter operator injured in an accident is reliant on their health insurance for any injuries sustained.

“Scooter rental services have made navigating urban areas even easier, but they also come with insurance implications if you are in an accident,” said TDCI Commissioner and National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) President Julie Mix McPeak. “We urge Tennesseans to evaluate their insurance coverages before riding a scooter.”

TDCI and NAIC share the following tips for consumers considering scooter sharing services:

  • Check your insurance policies to determine whether you are covered. Automobile insurance generally omits liability coverage for motor vehicles with fewer than four wheels, and it’s unlikely to apply to scooter rentals. Although most homeowners policies provide some liability coverage even while you are away from your residence, it may be limited or excluded because the scooter is a rental.
  • Umbrella insurance is extra liability insurance. In addition to riding a scooter, if you frequently ride bikes or have outdoor attractions on your property, you should consider an umbrella policy. It provides coverage for injuries, property damage, and some lawsuits.
  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Riding motorized scooters on sidewalks is illegal in most cities. Always operate the scooter in the bike lane or in the right-hand lane when possible.
  • Even though it’s tempting to share your scooter adventure, never use your phone or camera while operating a scooter. Always pay attention to the road and keep both hands on the scooter at all times.

For more information on consumer insurance, visit tn.gov/insurance.