Electric bikes are pretty amazing electric vehicles because they combine the convenience of a car with the advantages of a bike. You can zip over hills and through headwinds with minimal sweat all while having a lot of fun. The electric assist makes you feel like you have super powers!
With the right cargo gear you can run many errands or take the kids to school much like you would with a car. But unlike a car, you don’t have to worry about gas prices, traffic jams, finding a parking space, or paying for parking. And further adding to the advantages of a bike, in general you don’t need a license or insurance. Although there are times when specific insurance for your eBike can make sense.
In this article we will take a look at some of the regulations that do exist for electric bikes and when it may make sense to add specific insurance for your eBike.
Do You Need a Driver's License to Ride an Electric Bike?
Generally, you do not need a drivers license for riding an electric bike. However, requirements vary from state to state so you should check with your state rules to make sure. People for Bikes has a good resource page for finding the electric bike rules per state here.
At this point we should note that we are talking about legal electric bikes per the 3 class system as follows:
It is important to note that there are some vehicles that look like electric bikes but exceed the speed and/or power and therefore fall outside the regulations of an electric bicycle.
If you choose to ride one of these "out of class" vehicles, be aware that you may not be covered by eBike rules and regulations - those vehicles are considered electric mopeds or motorcycles, which DO have license and insurance requirements.
Many states also require that the eBike class (I, II, or III), motor wattage, and/or top speed be printed on a sticker on the frame of your eBike. An Bike that doesn't carry this legally-mandated sticker is a red flag to be aware of. All Denago eBikes carry the eBike class label as required by many states.
Okay, back to the properly labeled electric bicycles!
Some states do have a minimum age for riding an electric bicycle.
Again, this page from People for Bikes is a good resource for learning about all the rules that apply to riding an electric bicycle, which can and do vary from state to state.
For example, here are the rules for riding an eBike in California. You will see that in California 16 years old is the minimum age for riding the faster Class III eBikes and helmets are required for all riders under 17.
Some other states have similar rules. It is a good idea to learn about the rules of your state and any other state you may be riding in.
Do You Need to Have Insurance for an Electric Bike?
You generally don’t need to have insurance for your electric bike but there are situations where it can make sense to add specialty insurance.
Renter and homeowners insurance generally cover theft of a bicycle but it is important to note how insurance companies classify electric bicycles. Some insurance companies may consider an electric bike as a motor vehicle and therefore not cover it under a renters or homeowners insurance policy.
Considering this potential issue, it is a good idea to check with your insurance company about how they cover electric bikes.
If you do find a gap in coverage of your electric bike with renters or homeowners insurance then there is a solution. There are companies offering specific electric bike insurance to cover you if your renters or homeowners insurance doesn’t cover your eBike.
In some situations it may make financial sense to have a lower deductible on eBike specific insurance vs a lower deductible on renters or homeowners insurance.
Beyond the normal coverage for theft some of these electric bike focused insurance products may also cover repairs or replacement if your electric bike is damaged in a crash. In addition, if it is damaged on a car rack that can be covered too.
There is additional coverage that may be included in the eBike specific insurance, such as:
- Repairs for vandalism
- Rental bike reimbursement during the time your bike is being repaired
- Coverage of gear and accessories
- Roadside assistance
- Taxi/bus fair reimbursement for getting home after a crash
- Medical payments
- Liability coverage
Many of these electric bike insurance companies also cover traditional bikes. So if you and your family have a number of eBikes/bikes then it could be a good idea to have this comprehensive coverage for all of your bikes.
Another consideration for separate bike insurance is that it could help to keep your homeowners insurance record cleaner. During the sale of a property the buyers usually request the sellers insurance records for the past few years for their information on what has happened to the property as well as for getting their own insurance. By having separate bicycle insurance this could keep any bicycle claims off the homeowners insurance records.
Insurance policies may not cover you if you ride an "out of class" eBike that doesn't conform with the speed limiter or motor power maximums in your state - another reason to choose a compliant, labeled eBike when you go shopping.
Preventing Issues is the Best Insurance
Some of the best insurance is to prevent a claim in the first place. One of the most expensive claims is the theft of an electric bike which can be mitigated with a good lock as well as making sure your bike is not in a high theft area for too long.
There are a bunch of different locks available that range in use from a quick stop to super tough for high risk areas. The quick stop locks are great for short errands where you feel comfortable with a minimal strength lock. These are generally small, light, and easy to use.
There are medium duty locks that are good for use in lower risk areas (lots of people around, daylight hours, etc.) that provide enough protection to deter a thief while still being reasonably affordable.
Then there are the super durable locks that can be difficult for even the most dedicated thief to cut through and are used in high risk areas (not many people around, night time, etc.) but these can be heavy and expensive.
You can also make your eBike less desirable to steal by taking the battery, display, or other valuable parts of the bike with you once it is locked up. There are even alarm systems for electric bikes that can also deter a thief. Some come built into the eBike and other systems can be added later.
The technology doesn’t end there either. There are tracking systems available that can help police with recovery of a stolen eBike.
Some electric bikes come with tracking built in and there are a number of systems that can be added to an electric bike. For instance an economical tracking system is the Apple AirTag that can help the police find your eBike.
Also, make sure you keep track of your electric bikes serial number so that you can report that to police, local bike shops, websites, and social media channels that watch out for stolen bikes.
Speaking of that, take some detailed pictures of your eBike and store them in a place you will remember so that you can share them with others if it is stolen. Here is an article with more details on locks, alarm, and tracking systems.
Enjoy the Ride
Riding an electric bike is a lot of fun and it is generally a carefree time but it is good to keep in mind the ways to minimize potential downfalls.
Specific insurance for your electric bike might be the best way for you to minimize theft risk and potential damage to your eBike. Or you might find that your renters or homeowners insurance will cover everything well.
And with the good locking and tracking measures you may not need to ever make a claim in the first place. At the end of the day it is good to have a plan in place to minimize the risks and maximize the fun rides!