Local authorities have very different capabilities when dealing with the procurement of e-scooters and insurance demands also vary 

The demands for insurance for electric scooters (e-scooters) from local authorities (LAs) has been very different. 

This is according to Matthew Barrie, country manager for the UK and Ireland at e-scooter provider Bolt, who was speaking as part of a panel of experts at a webinar hosted by law firm Weightmans: e-scooters – the New Kid on the Block.

For example, product insurance and public liability coverage has been between £3m and £10m. In addition, some LAs have been asking for cyber insurance and personal accident cover.

Law firm, Weightmans has been at the forefront of this shift, advising key stakeholders on the various challenges that e-scooters present.

With 400,000 private e-scooter purchases already made, as well as trials being rolled out across the UK from July 2020, the micro-mobility sector is growing rapidly, yet there are several insurance challenges. 

For example, last month a woman was convicted of drink driving on an e-scooter. 

A lot of grey space

“There’s been a lot of grey space,” Barrie emphasised. For example, many procurement responsibilities have been devolved to LAs, but not every authority has the same capability.

“That has led to a lot of inconsistency - we have seen a lot of operators operating a ‘spit and shake’ agreement with LAs. In London, we have seen a very rigorous and transparent public procurement process.

“This has left operators in a grey space of not knowing how to act with LAs, as well having no expectations around process.”

However, Barrie stressed that where there have been procurement processes in place, the “parameters have been very different”.

He cited the example of the West Midlands, where the procurement was decided based on how much investment the operator was willing to provide – this is in direct comparison with LAs in other areas, which have focused on integrating e-scooters with the local transport system.

Tepid and cautious

Barrie pointed out that the approach from LAs has been quite “tepid and very cautious”, which he said is understandable.

However, referring to the e-scooter trial in Liverpool - which included 50 of these vehicles for 600,000 people in the city - he said the trial lacked any real data points due to its small size.

Bolt has been encouraging LAs to continue to take a “cautious and managed approach” but also to think about benefiting from the trials.

Many LAs have applied a single operator approach - Barrie questioned whether this was the most suitable approach for constituents.

In markets such as the US and Europe, the multi-operator approach is favoured as it provides “good solid competition”, especially in terms of pricing.

Meanwhile, Clive Speed, Zurich’s regional claims relationship manager, said that “much of the [transport] network is not resilient” to e-scooters.

He cited a 2020 survey of highways, which suggested that there was a £826m shortfall in maintenance for highways.