Scooters and mopeds have become much more popular over the last several years because of the increasing cost of gasoline and diesel fuel. Commuters tired of spending hundreds of dollars per month to get to work have taken to riding the economical and fuel-efficient motor scooter.
If you are a new moped or scooter owner, or if you are considering buying a scooter, you might be wondering how risky it is to drive a scooter and what insurance is available to manage those risks. Over 50% of scooter accidents involve collisions with another vehicle, and rider error represents over 25% of all motor scooter accidents. A large percentage of these accident victims have had little or no training in how to handle a motor scooter, and the narrow wheels of this vehicle make it very unstable over rough ground, including potholes. Because riders are largely unprotected, the rates of injury, even at low speeds, are greater than for auto drivers. For this reason, it's important to have the right coverage in place to protect you in case an accident happens.
Scooters and mopeds are not as dangerous as traditional motorcycles, since their engines are not nearly as powerful. Typically, scooter engines are between 50 and 250 cubic centimeters (cc’s), and are usually at the lower end of that range. Motorcycle engines, on the other hand, can be 5 to 10 times as powerful. This is particularly true of street bikes, or those vehicles commonly known as “crotch rockets.” The smallest road bike engines are usually no smaller than 500cc’s.
To put this into perspective, scooters with 50cc engines cannot usually achieve speeds over 30 miles per hour, while street motorcycles can easily reach speeds of 120 miles per hour or higher.
However, scooters and mopeds are much smaller than traditional motorcycles, and are therefore much less visible to motorists. Also, they tend to be driven closer to the side of the road, where they may encounter hazards that other motorists either do not face or can handle better due to the larger size of their vehicles. These hazards include debris, pot holes, rocks, and other items that have been swept toward the curb.
Another danger motor scooter drivers face is that they often move more slowly than surrounding traffic, and are thus forced to accommodate vehicles rushing past them at a higher speed. For all of these reasons, scooter and moped operators should always drive carefully and stay aware of their surroundings.
Scooter laws vary from state to state. Many states require that a scooter be less than 50cc or not reach a top speed over 30 mph. Most require headlights, rear lights, reflectors, and a working horn. Some others require scooter operators to mount an orange safety flag on their vehicle.
Many states require the scooter or moped to be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles, though some states do not. Some jurisdictions allow riders to hit the roads as young as 14-years-old. Others, however, require the operator to have a valid driver license. Some states require all riders to wear a helmet, while other states require only that helmets be worn by juveniles under age 18. Other states do not require helmets at all, but merely recommend they be worn. Some states require goggles be worn if the scooter does not have a windshield or other protective wind barrier up front. In most states, scooters are allowed to operate on all surface roads, but are not permitted on sidewalks or highways.
Scooter insurance may be required, depending on the scooter or moped insurance laws in place in your state. If it is required, the availability and cost will vary by jurisdiction. To understand what is and is not required, check the laws in your state that govern the operation and insurance requirements of scooters and mopeds. A local independent agent in your area can provide the information you need to make sure you are in compliance.
Scooter or moped insurance is not the same as motorcycle insurance. The fundamental difference between the two is that scooters do not have the horsepower or speed capacity of a motorcycle. Moreover, scooters are not normally allowed to operate on expressways, where vehicle speeds can exceed 65 miles per hour. When comparing scooter or a moped insurance quotes, make sure you are looking at quotes for a scooter, not a traditional street bike.
The cost of electric scooter insurance depends on your driving record and other factors. It also varies from one geographic area to another. For example, if you live in a high risk area for thefts and accidents, or if you are known to have a record of traffic violations, you will pay more for moped insurance than if you live in a small town and have a clean driving record.
However, because the speed and risks of scooter operation are lower than the risks of riding a motorcycle, the cost of insurance is typically lower, as well.
As a general rule, getting moped and scooter insurance quotes is pretty easy - most major insurance companies carry this coverage. You can call around to insurance companies to get quotes over the phone, and most insurers also have online quoting tools that make searching for rate quotes quick and easy.
It's also a good idea to find insurance from a reputable insurance company who has high consumer ratings, and work with a qualified agent who knows a lot about scooters and moped riders in your area.