Imagine going on vacation to Maui. Now imagine your entire family biking 16 miles on a steep and winding road with a spectacular view of the ocean – all the way to Nakalele Point – where you can view a blowhole on the northern tip of the island. Despite the incline, you easily keep up with cars and pass hard-core cyclists along the way. In fact, throughout your journey, you barely break a sweat.
Think you couldn’t do this? Think again. This is the reality made possible by e-bikes.
What Is an E-Bike?
E-bikes aren’t quite like the bicycles you rode as a kid. They’re more powerful, and that can make them more dangerous. If you’re riding one, make sure you understand the legal and insurance requirements.
E-bikes look a lot like regular bikes, but with one major difference: there’s a battery-powered motor. E-bikes are also called electric bikes. When you ride an e-bike, you still use the foot pedals to power the bike, but the motor provides additional power though pedal-assist technology. If you’re ever struggled to ride up a hill, you can probably appreciate this.
E-bikes have become more popular in recent years, and the pandemic may have accelerated this trend. It makes sense. People who live in cities often want to get around without having to drive a car. Walking or riding a regular bicycle everywhere can be exhausting, however. E-bikes make it easier to get around. During the pandemic, e-bikes also offered an attractive alternative to crowded public transportation options.
According to WSAW, one store manager in Wausau, Wisconsin said that e-bike sales had increased 300% during the pandemic. Verge has also reported strong sales: one U.S. bike retailer saw a 140% increase, while a Seattle-based bike company saw sales increase 297% and noted more sales to delivery drivers. The surge in e-bike ownership is so strong that some cities are having to adjust. France, for example, has installed temporary bike lanes in multiple cities.
E-Bikes Can Be Dangerous
Despite the rising popularity, e-bikes and e-scooters can be dangerous.
According to Reuters, compared to scooters and traditional bikes, researchers have found that e-bike injuries are more than three times more likely to involve a collision with a pedestrian.
Do You Need Licensing and Insurance for E-Bikes?
Whether or not you need insurance coverage for your e-bike will depend on the laws where you live. It depends on the insurance carrier as to what coverages may apply as well as the class of the bike. There are three classes of e-bikes:
Class 1 The motor kicks in only when the bike is pedaled, and stops assisting at 20 mph
Class 2 Also has a pedal-assist mode up to 20 mph, plus a purely throttle power mode
Class 3 Solely pedal assist (like class 1), but assistance continues to 28 MPH
What Insurance Coverage Should You Have?
E-bikes often cost more than $2,000, and some models may be significantly more. Insurance coverage can protect your investment if your e-bike is damaged or stolen.
More importantly, it’s very important to make sure there is liability coverage on the e-bike. If you accidentally hit someone or are the cause of an auto accident, you may be held liable for the costs. Also important is coverage if you are injured while riding the e-bike.
Don’t necessarily count on your homeowners insurance or renters insurance policy for coverage, either. Although home insurance policies typically include some coverage for personal property and liability, they also typically exclude motor vehicles. E-bikes, which do contain motors, may therefore be excluded from coverage. Again, it depends on the insurance carrier as well as the class e-bike you own as to whether a separate policy is required. Contact us to determine your individual needs!
E-bikes are giving people a great new way to get around, but don’t let your ride end in a trip to the hospital.
- Follow the rules for e-bikes in your area.
- Wear a helmet. Even when helmets aren’t legally required, they’re an excellent way to protect yourself.
- Watch out for pedestrians, cars, and other riders.
- Maintain speeds that are safe for the conditions.
- When riding on streets, follow the rules of the road. Some reports of reckless e-bike riders have involved riders speeding through red lights.
To learn about e-bike insurance options in Wisconsin, give us a call.