Mobility scooter insurance is not compulsory in the UK, although the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) strongly recommends drivers take out cover to protect themselves against accidents and injuries and to support them in the event of a breakdown. This guide aims to offer information for scooter drivers to ensure they are adequately covered.
What types of scooters are there?
There are three recognised classes of scooter. Class 1 scooters are essentially self-powered wheelchairs. Class 2 devices are powered wheelchairs and scooters. They are used for footpaths, incorporate braking and light systems and travel up to four miles per hour. Class 3 devices are powered wheelchairs and scooters like Class 2s, but are usually wider, faster (eight mile per hour) and can be used in cycle or bus lanes. You do not need to pass a test to drive a Class 3 scooter, but you do need to register it with the DVLA.
Although the UK government is considering making mobility insurance compulsory, you do not need to take out cover for any of these vehicles – even for a scooter you’re planning to use on the road.
Why take out scooter cover?
To drive a scooter there are no requirements to hold a licence, pay road tax or take out insurance as it is not defined as a motor vehicle. However, although this saves a huge amount of money relative to driving a small car, it is advisable to take out a mobility scooter insurance policy to cover your mobility scooter against accidental damage, theft and third party liability, and in case of damage or injury to someone else or their property.
Five years ago there were 70,000 mobility scooters being used in Britain. Today, according to the British Healthcare Trades Association, that number is closer to 300,000. While data is not available to show how many of these scooter drivers have insurance, it is likely that many of them are unprotected against accidents or injury – and at risk of incurring considerable cost and stress from breakdowns and other incidents.
What is covered in a policy?
As a covered scooter driver, if you were to hit a pedestrian or damage someone’s property your mobility insurance would pay for the cost. If the incident were to reach the courts, your insurance would pay for your defence.
In the event of damage to your scooter, the cost of repairs – and even the cost of replacing the vehicle should it need to be written off – will probably be covered by your insurance policy. Following accidents some insurers will ensure that you and your mobility scooter get home safely, although this might apply to the 12 months of your policy or only the 24 hours since your incident.
As with all types of insurance cover, you should always confirm exactly what is included in your policy with your insurance company before taking it out so you know what you are covered for and what you are entitled to in the event of an incident.
What are the policy limitations?
Unfortunately, the number of breakdown calls a user can make within a 12-month policy is not unlimited. Typically, you’re allowed to make up to four calls. In the event that you exceed this number of breakdown call-outs, it’s technically possible for an insurance company to cancel your policy. Even if there is time remaining on the policy, you may not get a refund.
This would obviously be a huge inconvenience, so it’s important to check the small print of any policy to see if these types of stipulations are included. To guard against regular breakdowns – and the possibility of your policy being cancelled – ensure that your mobility scooter is well maintained and unlikely to break down with any regularity.
Many scooter insurance policies will only cover you for the mobility scooter that you insured when the policy commenced. This means that if you decide to change scooters part-way through the policy you need to let your insurance company know. If you make a claim on a different scooter to the one in the policy, they may reject the claim.
What about exceptional circumstances?
Your insurance policy may not cover your mobility scooter if it is immobilised by extreme weather such as mud, snow, sand or water. Also, it’s possible that you may not be covered for loss of keys or any incident that takes place within the first 48 hours of the policy inception point. As with the points above, it’s best to double-check your policy before agreeing to buy it.