E-scooters are illegal to ride on public roads and pavements and insurance is not mandatory 

Two incidents involving electric scooters have sparked a debate on whether insurance should be made compulsory for this mode of transport. 

YouTube star Emily Hartridge last Friday died after being hit by a lorry while riding an electric scooter. In a separate incident a 14-year old boy was reported to be fighting for his life on Tuesday after crashing into a bus stop.

The two-wheeled electric power scooter known as an e-scooter can exceed 30mph and is currently illegal to ride on UK public roads and pavements. Insurance is not a compulsory stipulation. The vehicles can only be ridden on public land with the landowner’s permission.  

In 2000 a court ruled a Go-Ped scooter counted as a motor vehicle and its rider was convicted for not having insurance or wearing a helmet after running a red light.  


Nikolaus Suehr, chief executive and founder at insurance distribution network, Kasko, said: “At  Kasko we believe that third-party liability should be compulsory, just like with a traditional motorised vehicle to make sure that any damage to others is covered.

“Furthermore, cover for any injury to yourself or damage to your property should be offered as an option. However, this is a personal choice and usually covered by normal accident, health or life policies, and the user should be left to choose.  

“These sharing providers should point out to their users the health and safety risks of the products and financial protection available to them as much as possible. Yet another alternative would be specific mobility insurance covering various types of mobility (taking/renting a bike arguably has the same implications as here) or an annual e-scooter Insurance covering your liability but also your property.” 

Kasko is planning to launch an e-scooter product soon in Germany with one of its insurance partners.  

Many UK firms provide scooter insurance though, for the purpose of keeping those who use scooters and e-scooters covered in the event of a collision. 

Worrying trend

Kurt Rowe, head of the digital and cyber liabilities sector focus team at the Forum of Insurance Lawyers and a principal associate at law firm Weightmans LLP, told Insurance Times that this is a “worrying trend” considering that e-scooters should not be on the road. 

“The modern age of mobility has seen traditional bicycles replaced with electrically assisted ones, as well as an increase in electric scooters and so-called hover boards increasingly on our streets and roads,” he said.

“These vehicles are often used with little training or regard for the presence of other road users or pedestrians, so some may argue that it was only a matter of time before an accident occurred.”

Road traffic laws say that an electric bike, scooter or hover board should not be used on public roads or pavements with the exception of electric bikes which:

  • have pedals fitted which work
  • do not exceed 250W of electrical power; and
  • the power assist cuts off when the vehicle reaches a speed of 15.5mph

“In addition, any electric vehicle which does not comply with the above (for example electric scooters and so-called go peds), are considered to be motor vehicles and require compulsory insurance if they were ever to be permitted for use on our roads and public places,” Rowe continued.

“This is something which the public at large seem to be unaware of despite a marketing push to sell these vehicles as potential answers to commuting issues,” Rowe continued. 

“We therefore welcome the Department for Transport’s review of these vehicles, the regulatory and legislative changes needed to allow these devices to be legally used on our roads as well as other important issues such as insurance and education which are critical to ensure that our roads and footpaths remain safe for all.”

What might happen?

Amy Jeffs, director in the commercial insurance team at law firm DWF told Insurance Times that the case for compulsory insurance was “disproportionate”. 

“There has been a period of intense judicial and legislative activity in relation to compulsory motor insurance over the last few years, which has seen the scope of compulsory insurance for most vehicles expand within the UK,” she said.

“The culmination of this activity will be the amendments to the Motor Insurance Directive from which the compulsory legislation across the member states in derived.

“It is likely the UK will follow suit with changes to the Road Traffic Act in addition to those already announced. Under the current EU approach, small electric vehicles require compulsory insurance unless specifically excluded under national law, and the UK government has issued guidance to the effect that insurance is required for use on a road or public place and this has long been the case.

“However, in reviewing the fitness for purpose of the Motor Insurance Directive, the European Commission took the view that the risk associated with small electric vehicles was low, and a requirement for compulsory insurance is therefore be disproportionate. 

“The intention therefore is to exclude smaller vehicles from the compulsory regime, reversing the current law to allow individual member states to opt in a compulsory regime rather than to opt out.”

Likely outcome?

Jeffs continued: “The likely outcome is that the regulation of such vehicles will be reduced. With a number of widely reported incidents, the approach of the EU to the risk associated with the use of PLEVs is likely to come under scrutiny.

“A contrast can be made the Commission’s approach to the risks associated with traditional motor vehicles on private land, which the EU regarded as sufficiently high as to require compulsory insurance despite many submissions to the contrary.

“The option for member states to opt in is likely to produce greater inconsistency across Europe than currently exists particularly if member states legislate in reaction to high profile incidents.

“This will create greater uncertainties as to the legal position across Europe which may give rise to issues where electric vehicles are hired by tourists, which anecdotally would appear to be a particular risk hot spot.”