Everyone knows, anecdotally, that there have been (and continue to be) a lot of e-scooter accidents in Singapore. But how many?
The official statistic puts this number at 110 accidents from Jan to Sep 2017, which averages to about 3 accidents a week. Though the LTA Active Mobility Act has kicked in with new rules since then, it’s likely that accidents still occur frequently enough to cause worry.
So if you’re eyeing that cute Dyu or Xiaomi scooter for Christmas (I can’t be the only one, right?), you might consider also insuring yourself against e-scooter accidents.
Though insurance is not compulsory for e-scooter riders (yet!), there are compelling reasons to opt for it anyway, which I’ll go into. Fortunately, e-scooter insurance is not expensive. There are several insurance options available for less than $100 a year, and I’ll also discuss the options later in the article.
What kinds of e-scooter accidents can happen?
First, let’s take a moment to sympathise with pedestrians who just happen to be living or working in an area with a lot of crazy e-scooter riders. The situation for them is pretty much beyond their control.
A recent CNA article claims that getting hit by an e-scooter in motion (at a tame 15 km/h) is equivalent in impact to 9 times a regular punch. Ouch. A very nimble pedestrian who manages to siam just in time might get away with just a few scratches… but many high-profile victims of e-scooter accidents haven’t been that lucky.
But things aren’t that rosy if you’re an e-scooter rider either. Not only are pedestrians constantly giving you the evil eye, e-scooter riders are vulnerable to injury too. For example, a responsible rider who brakes hard to avoid a collision may end up falling off the scooter and injuring himself.
An important thing to bear in mind is that collisions are not always avoidable. CNA demonstrated that e-scooters have a braking distance of at least a few metres at 15 km/h, and up to 7 metres to stop when travelling at 25 km/h (the speed limit for shared paths). So, even an e-scooter rider with the best intentions might not be able to brake in time.
Apart from injury to themselves, you’re also additionally at risk of being sued by the victim. Injured victims can and do choose to claim compensation from the rider.
What are your insurance options?
Whether pedestrian or rider, when it comes to your own injuries, the conventional insurance options apply:
- If you’re hospitalised, MediShield Life covers some of your hospital bills, with limits
- Private health insurance e.g. Integrated Shield Plans extend your MediShield Life coverage by covering more your medical bills
- Separately from your medical costs, personal accident insurance compensates you for death, disability or injury
But what if you hit someone else or damage their property, and they want compensation? That’s what’s missing from most conventional insurance options, and it’s where specific e-scooter/PMD insurance comes in.
These plans offer personal liability or third party damages coverage, so that in cases where compensation is involved, the insurer will pay (similar to how car insurance works). For example:
- You cause injury or death to someone else
- You damage or destroy someone else’s property
- You hire a lawyer to defend your case and rack up a substantial bill
- In addition, the other person wants you to compensate them for their legal fees
In Singapore, there are currently 2 insurance plans available that specifically target e-scooter riders:
NTUC insurance vs Etiqa insurance – which is better for e-scooter riders?
Let’s assume you’re an e-scooter rider and you’re looking some form of insurance coverage for both (a) your own injuries and (b) any third party damage you might cause (touch wood, but everyone knows accidents do happen).
Here’s a quick and dirty comparison of the most basic and cheapest plans available. For comparison’s sake, I’ll also include the cheapest generic personal accident insurance plan.
|Insurance plan||NTUC Personal Mobility Guard||Etiqa eProtect Personal Mobility||Aviva Personal Accident Insurance|
|Medical expenses coverage||$2,500||$3,000||$3,000|
|Personal liability cover||$1,000,000||$300,000||$100,000|
Thing to note with both the NTUC and Etiqa insurance plans are:
- Both cyclists and PMD users (i.e. e-scooters, e-bikes, hoverboards, etc.) are covered
- You need to be a responsible, sober and law-abiding rider or cyclist at all times
What’s NOT covered – and these might be dealbreakers! – are:
- Cycling or riding PMD for work (e.g. GrabFood riders)
- 2nd rider is not covered (e.g. if you ferry your kid around on a bike or e-scooter)
- Using your bike or PMD outside of Singapore
- Pregnancy and any complications arising from it
- Damage or loss (e.g. theft) to your own PMD or bicycle
So, which one to pick?
The key strength of the NTUC Personal Mobility Guard insurance plan is the extremely high personal liability cover.
This is the one to go for if (a) you’re already covered by another personal accident plan and just want cover for personal liability, or (b) you’re a klutz/speed demon and there’s a chance you might get sued to the high heavens. Hopefully the former.
As for the cheaper Etiqa eProtect Personal Mobility (Basic), coverage is adequate, but its personal liability coverage pales in comparison to that of NTUC. For that $18 difference, I would rather opt for the NTUC one for way better coverage.
However, what Etiqa really wants to do is to upsell their more expensive Essential/Advanced/Ultimate plans (from $188 a year) which include bicycle damage or theft. This is more for bike fanatics who want to insure their $8,000 road bikes, but is less relevant for regular e-scooter riders.
Actually, personal accident insurance might be better…
The glaring problem with both the NTUC and Etiqa personal mobility insurance plans is that they do not cover some of the most common uses of PMDs and bikes.
Therefore in the following scenarios, it would make sense to forgo the PMD-specific insurance, and opt for a more forgiving personal accident insurance plan instead.
Scenario 1: You use your e-scooter (or bike) to do food delivery jobs. This is totally not covered by either PMD-specific plan, so you might as well just get a personal accident plan. After all, PA insurance does account for your occupation, so you know that you’re protected while you work.
Scenario 2: You send your kid around on your e-scooter (or bike). Extremely common practice and one of the best uses for a PMD, yet not covered by either NTUC or Etiqa. Do yourself a favour and opt for a personal accident plan with free cover for children, such as MSIG ProtectionPlus Silver.
Scenario 3: You plan to ride your e-scooter or PMD or bike overseas. One of the great things about ultra-portable e-scooters like Inokim Mini and teeny tiny folding bikes like the Pacific CarryMe is that you can take them along on your trips. If you plan to travel with your PMD, opt for personal accident insurance, which typically offers worldwide coverage.
If you decide to go for personal accident insurance rather than one of the PMD-specific insurance plans, be sure to choose one with coverage for personal liability. Most don’t include this, but I found 2 that do:
Both of these PA insurance plans have personal liability cover of $100,000 for their cheapest policies. It’s not a lot compared to the $300,000 or $1,000,000 offered by Etiqa and NTUC Income, but it’s better than nothing.
Before you sign up for a personal accident insurance plan, however, be sure to scrutinise the policy wording to make sure there is no way your riding an e-scooter or PMD can be construed as one of their exclusions. It can’t hurt to live chat or call the insurer up to ask as well.
Do you think insurance is necessary for e-scooter riders? Tell us why or why not in the comments!
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