On 4th July 2020, e-scooters became legal on roads in Great Britain, if obtained through a rental scheme. Catrin Povey and Joseph Hill consider the legal and insurance implications.
Previously, e-scooters could only be used legally on private land with the permission of the landowner (or in theory, on public roads if strict requirements were met, but in practice these were very difficult to comply with). The Department for Transport has now set out that e-scooters hired through a rental scheme are legal.
The start date for the rental scheme trials has been brought forward and has been extended to the whole of Great Britain, where it was previously limited to four sites in the West Midlands, Portsmouth and Southampton, the West of England Combined Authority, and Derby and Nottingham.
The first rental scheme trial, intended to be launched in Teeside, had to be postponed due to complaints of improper use, but it is hoped that it will be back up and running shortly. Several other areas have also shown an interest in getting involved in the schemes, and it is likely that trials will continue to emerge in further towns and cities across Great Britain.
To take part, riders will need a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence, and must be 16 years of age or over. The maximum speed permitted is 15.5mph and in terms of insurance, the e-scooters involved in the rental scheme trials must be insured by the rental provider, rather than the rider.
Perhaps somewhat controversially, helmets are recommended, but are not compulsory. This may lead to some interesting legal decisions in relation to contributory negligence if a rider has an accident without wearing one (further information on this can be found on our previous article).
As insurance is now legally required for rental e-scooters, there’s room for more insurers and insurtechs to work their way into the market. For example, our client Insurtech Zego has partnered with e-scooter company Ginger to provide insurance for the trial in Teeside. We await the outcome of the various trials, set to last 12 months, to see whether the legislation is extended to all e-scooter riders.