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Are E-Bikes Considered a ‘Motor Vehicle’ on a Homeowners Policy?  

If e-bikes are considered vehicles, and liability is excluded from homeowners policies, is there an ISO homeowners endorsement that provides both liability and physical damage coverage?
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are e-bikes considered a ‘motor vehicle’ on a homeowners policy?  

Q: Are e-bikes motorized vehicles? If they are considered vehicles, and liability is excluded from homeowners policies, is there an ISO homeowners endorsement that provides both liability and physical damage coverage? Or do we need to insure them as we would a moped or motorcycle? 

Response 1: The current ISO homeowners definition of “motor vehicle" includes “a self-propelled or amphibious vehicle." E-bikes would meet this definition and coverage is excluded for owned bikes away from an “insured location". Non-owned bikes, such as rentals, would be covered anywhere. There is currently no way to provide coverage for owned e-bikes used off-premises. 

The HO 24 13 Incidental Low-Power Recreational Motor Vehicle Liability Coverage endorsement excludes motorized bicycles, motorized scooters, mopeds and golf carts. It might be possible to add coverage to a personal auto policy using a miscellaneous type vehicle endorsement. 

ISO is addressing this in the 2022 filing. They are changing the definition of “motor vehicle" to “a land or amphibious vehicle that is self-propelled or capable of being self-propelled." This will definitely cover e-bikes motor vehicles. The motor vehicle liability exclusion will apply to owned e-bikes used away from certain parts of the definition of “insured location." 

Non-owned e-bikes will be covered anywhere. And the HO 24 13 is being revised to allow coverage for owned motorized bicycles or motorized scooters up to 28 horsepower that are used off-premises.

Response 2: In California, neither the homeowners insurer nor the PAP insurer would add them. We arranged coverage via a motorcycle policy with Foremost Insurance.

Response 3: E-bikes are motorized vehicles. Call your underwriter to determine if coverage is available. Depending on carrier policy modifications, you will need to use a specialty market of your choice for motorcycles or mopeds. Be sure to evaluate any excess liability provisions with other markets.

Response 4: Some e-bikes are truly self-propelled, but most are "power-assisted" and don't go unless they're pedaled. Here's an excerpt from a recent class of mine:

E-Bikes. E-bikes are bicycles with an electric motor that can provide propulsion, either solely or by assisting with pedaling. Most are two-wheel models, though three-wheel models are not uncommon. Most have a traditional bicycle design, though some have a moped design. Some are folding models that can be carried. E-bike costs start at under $500 and some models will cost over $10,000. Top speeds range from under 15 mph to over 30 mph. Dockless e-bike rentals from firms like Lime are becoming very common in urban areas, with costs of $5 to $10 per hour.

Homeowners coverage: Personal liability initially excludes all self-propelled vehicles. Coverage is given back for unlicensed vehicles that service the residence; golf carts at certain premises; non-owned, unlicensed off-road recreational vehicles; and use of owned, unlicensed off-road recreational vehicles on the residence premises. E-bikes and e-scooters wouldn't seem to qualify as "off-road" vehicles. ISO's HO-2022 program is modifying their HO 24 13 endorsement to provide off-premises liability coverage for e-bikes and scooters with speeds of up to 28 mph. They are assuming that e-bikes and e-scooters are “designed for recreational use off public roads", an assumption that insurers may not agree with. Note that the 2011 version of the HO 24 13 clearly excludes scooters regardless of their top speed.

Response 5: They are motor vehicles and thus almost always excluded under an ISO homeowners policy. Most PAPs won't respond. I am told Foremost writes them for about $100 a year.

Response 6: Not all carriers use ISO forms. Also, motorized vehicles are not automatically covered by the homeowners policy. There are a few carriers offering an endorsement to cover the e-bike liability exposure, but if no endorsement is available you'll need to write an e-bike policy. Markel Specialty offers this, as do many other carriers. It's best to have home, umbrella and e-bike with the same carrier if possible.

This question was originally submitted by an agent through the Big “I" Virtual University's (VU) Ask an Expert service, with responses curated from multiple VU faculty members. Answers to other coverage questions are available on the VU website. If you need help accessing the website, request login information.

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Friday, October 29, 2021
Homeowners