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Homeowners insurance and scooters

What’s in a word? Well, perhaps in this case, it’s the difference between insurance cover and no cover. Let’s start with the straightforward version which we might call a motor scooter. This is a two-wheeled, low-powered version of a motorbike and, despite very real safety concerns, their number has been growing steadily on our roads since we broke through the price barrier of $3 per gallon of gas. The reason is simple. It’s not difficult to get 60 or more miles to the gallon on a scooter. That’s rather better than the average vehicle. Add in the fact you will also save dramatic amounts on the auto insurance and it looks a good deal. The only problem is the number of accidents. Drivers seem to have great difficulty is actually seeing these nippy little things as they whizz in and out of traffic.

Changing the subject, you can’t avoid knowing we are facing an epidemic of obesity. Perhaps equally as serious is the increasing age of the population. As the boomers steadily pass the 60 mark, the average age is rising quite sharply. Those who work out these math sums tell us that, by 2025, there will be 66 million people aged 65 or more. Now let’s put together the picture by adding in the number of people who are born with disabilities or who are injured and therefore cannot walk around so easily. One of the things we pride ourselves on as Americans is our inventiveness. Knowing how many people might find it a challenge to move around the home or outside, there’s been a rush to develop scooters (for the record, the general term is an “electric mobility device”. They now come in a fairly standard four-wheel form, rather like a slimmed down golf cart and, in increasing numbers, you’re likely to see them on our roads and have to move out of their way on sidewalks and cycle paths.

The advantages of these machines are simple to list: you don’t need a license or registration to drive one, there are no rules requiring you to wear protective helmets, and they are very cheap to operate. All of which should suggest the key problem. Calling them scooters is not going to turn them into cars or bikes, and auto policies are not appropriate. Equally clear is the problem of dealing with them under the liability section of your home policy. Suppose a senior is distracted while riding down the sidewalk and crashes into a pedestrian. This is not the same as snow sliding off the roof and hospitalizing a passerby. For those who are interested in legal niceties, you also can’t be guilty of dui/dwi charges because you’re not actually driving. It’s an assisted form of walking.

The solution is talking with the company supplying your homeowners insurance and add the scooter to that policy. This is not a vehicle designed within the government guidelines to drive on a public road. It may be used inside buildings with access for disability devices, on sidewalks, cycle paths and other public places. Strange though it may seem, your home insurance policy is the best bet for cheap coverage.

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