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Travelling safely with your own e-scooter

Electric-powered scooters, also known as e-scooters, are very popular. After an «enforced break» since March these electric scooters are now once again available for hire in many cities. If you are thinking of buying an e-scooter of your own, here are some tips on what you will need to bear in mind.

28 July 2020, text: Esin Ezer and Sandra Biraghi, photo: Depositphotos

Young woman on an electric scooter.
To be on the safe side even if an accident happens, e-scooter riders need their own liability cover.

Loved by all who delight in zipping through the city centre: an e-scooter is a good deal faster than walking, needs no parking space, and in many cities can be hired easily and flexibly via an app. Rental companies have been experiencing a real boom. True, this has stalled somewhat in the last few months due to the compulsory shop closures, but now e-scooters are once again available in most locations. Those who do not have a rental firm on their doorstep, or prefer to use their own model, are buying their own.

Two categories, different rules

Depending on performance, e-scooters permitted in Switzerland are grouped into either the «light motor-assisted bicycle» (up to 20 km/hr) or «motor-assisted bicycle» (30 km/hr) categories. Unlike the more common types, these faster e-scooters require type approval, road use approval and a yellow licence plate. The type approval is usually requested by the manufacturer or importer and transferred to the owner at the time of purchase. If this is not the case, approval can be requested from the Road Traffic Licensing Department.

Liability in the event of an accident

The Federal Roads Office, FEDRO, collected data on accidents involving e-scooters for the first time in 2019. Together with the accident figures for traditional non-motorized scooters, the statistics reveal that one person per day in Switzerland is injured as a result of accidents involving scooters. So don't forget your insurance! For both owners and renters of e-scooters, the rule is: you will need your own private liability insurance. Should you cause an accident, this will cover any damage to third parties. Anyone using the faster e-scooters with approval for road use is covered via their licence plate. Important: If an accident occurs on the road involving an e-scooter with no permit, any benefits under the private liability policy maybe reduced or even cancelled.

Supplementary insurance against theft

Likewise, the following applies to both types: In the event of damage to or theft of an e-scooter while at home, the owner’s contents insurance will cover the costs incurred, provided the sum insured across the contents as a whole is sufficient. In the event of theft outside of your own four walls, you will need a supplementary «simple theft away from home» policy to ensure that your replacement costs are covered.

No driving on the pavement!

In terms of traffic regulations, e-scooters with top speeds up to 20 km/hr are classed with bicycles and «slow» e-bikes. That means they cannot be used on pavements, and in city centres the rule is: They can be used in pedestrian areas at walking speed, if «cycling allowed» signs are present. To find out about the rules with regard to traffic regulations, licensing and operating of e-scooters, see the FEDRO website.

Whether you decide to go for a standard or faster e-scooter: If you know the rules and get the right cover, you can ride your trendy new scooter without a care in the world. As long as there’s a power supply around.

Private liability

Relax with Helvetia’s private liability insurance.