Scooters. Most Denver metro area residents have probably seen them, zipping down the street. And the sidewalk, and on bike paths. Perhaps in the wrong direction. They can go fast, compared to bikes and pedestrians, and their drivers may or may not have much experience handling them.
If there’s an accident, who pays?
It turns out that under Colorado law, insurance policies can leave a pretty significant coverage gap. This is because many Colorado automobile insurance policies define “vehicles” as having four or more wheels, meaning that there may not be coverage if the holder of such a policy is involved in a scooter accident. While it is possible to purchase separate motorcycle insurance that applies to two wheeled vehicles, it is probably unlikely that many people who don’t own motorcycles or mopeds have it.
Similarly, the general liability coverage found on many Colorado homeowners and renters insurance policies is often defined to not apply to injuries involving motor vehicles, no matter how many wheels they have.
Given the above, if a scooter rider injures a pedestrian or bike rider, the injured party may not have access to any liability insurance, and instead be left to rely on their own health insurance.
The above approach by insurance companies appears to be presently permitted by Colorado law. This is because the Colorado statute that requires certain minimum liability coverages defines a “motor vehicle” as:
C.R.S. 10-4-601(6): ““Motor vehicle” means a “motor vehicle” and a “low-power scooter”, as both terms are defined in section 42-1-102, C.R.S.; except that “motor vehicle” does not include a toy vehicle, snowmobile, off-highway vehicle, or vehicle designed primarily for use on rails.”
In turn, C.R.S. 42-1-102 defines low-power scooters as, pertinently, vehicles designed to be used on public roads (i.e. mopeds and the like), and toy vehicles as vehicles not designed to be used on public roads. This means that electric scooters, at least under current law, probably do not fall within the Colorado laws requiring certain minimum insurance coverages.