By John W. Koetz, CIC, CPCU
The new craze is rental scooters. Have you seen them yet? There are two companies, Bird and Lime, with scooters sitting on the sidewalks of larger cities and wait till you also see the crazy way some people drive them. So what happens if you rent a scooter and run into a pedestrian while driving it? Or even worse, you cause an accident by riding in the street forcing a car to swerve to avoid you and they hit a pedestrian.
Where will you find liability coverage when you get sued for $1,000,000
for causing someone’s injuries while driving a rental scooter?
Your car insurance will not cover you! – Most personal auto policies exclude “Any motorized vehicle having fewer than four wheels, except for a motorcycle …”
Your homeowner insurance will not cover you! – Most homeowner policies exclude “motor vehicles” which are defined as self-propelled land vehicles, arising out of the use of the motor vehicle rented to an insured. However, they cover “’Motor vehicles’ designed for recreational use off public roads …” The rental folks state you must drive the scooters on the street so most companies would exclude this.
Your personal umbrella insurance may not cover you! – Every personal umbrella policy can be a little different so be sure to check with your carrier. But in general, umbrellas follow the home and auto policies they are meant to provide excess coverage for. Many do “drop down” and provide primary coverage for certain situations. However, the ones we have reviewed exclude coverage for “Recreational motor vehicles” (this includes scooters) unless they are specifically listed on the umbrella policy.
LIME and BIRD will not cover you! – So you say, “I’m sure these big companies will protect me if something goes wrong.” WRONG! Both Lime and Bird Rental Agreements (yes they have a detailed rental contract you agree to when you sign up online) have waivers that say they are NOT responsible for ANYTHING that happens while you are driving their scooters.
To make matters worse, they also make you responsible for any claims made against them including paying for their attorney fees! (see end of article for language)
So what should you do when you’re tired of walking or just curious and want to rent a scooter?
Call UBER or Lyft! At least these companies provide some liability protection. OR think twice about what could happen and DON’T RENT THE SCOOTER! Yes they are fun, but so is enjoying the money in your bank accounts that will stay there because you didn’t take a 10 minute joy ride that cost you your life savings. Sorry to be a party pooper… More to come on scooters.
(John Koetz is an independent insurance agent with the W.E. Davis Insurance Agency located in Columbus, Ohio and lives in the Short North, a popular tourist destination in downtown Columbus.)
From LIME Rental Agreement for scooter rental
(Underlines added for emphasis)
YOU ARE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE AND LIABLE FOR ANY VIOLATION OF ANY LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS, AND/OR ORDINANCES WHILE USING THE SERVICES, INCLUDING IMPROPER RIDING AND/OR PARKING, AND YOU AGREE THAT YOU ARE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE AND LIABLE FOR ANY AND ALL CONSEQUENCES, CLAIMS, DEMANDS, CAUSES OF ACTION, LOSSES, LIABILITIES, DAMAGES, INJURIES, COSTS AND EXPENSES, PENALTIES, ATTORNEYS’ FEES, JUDGMENTS, SUITS, FEES (INCLUDING IMPOUNDING FEES CHARGED BY ANY LOCAL GOVERNMENT) AND/OR DISBURSEMENTS OF ANY KIND, OR NATURE WHATSOEVER, WHETHER FORESEEABLE OR UNFORESEEABLE, AND WHETHER KNOWN OR UNKNOWN, AS A RESULT OF USING ANY OF THE SERVICES.
RELEASES; DISCLAIMERS; LIMITATION OF LIABILITY; ASSUMPTION OF RISK.
5.1. Releases : “Claims” means, collectively, and without limitation, any and all claims, injuries, demands, liabilities, disputes, causes of action (including statutory, contract, negligence, or other tort theories), proceedings, obligations, debts, liens, fines, charges, penalties, contracts, promises, costs, expenses (including attorneys’ fees, whether incurred pre-litigation, pre-trial, at trial, on appeal, or otherwise), damages of any kind whatsoever (including consequential, compensatory, or punitive damages), or losses (whether known, unknown, asserted, unasserted, fixed, conditional, or contingent) that arise from or relate to (a) any of the Services, including any of the Products, equipment or related information, and/or (b) Your use of any of the foregoing. “Released Persons” means, collectively Lime and all of its owners, managers, affiliates, employees, agents, representatives, successors, and assigns, and (ii) every sponsor of any of the Services and all of the sponsor’s owners, officers, directors, affiliates, employees, agents, representatives, successors, and assigns. In exchange for being allowed to use any of the Services, and other equipment or related information provided by Lime, You (acting for You and for all of Your family, heirs, agents, affiliates, representatives, successors, and assigns) hereby fully and forever release and discharge all Released Persons for any and all Claims that You have or may have against any Released Person. Such releases are intended to be general and complete releases of all Claims. The Released Persons may plead such releases as a complete and sufficient defense to any Claim, as intended third party beneficiaries of such releases. You expressly agree to indemnify, release and hold harmless Released Persons from all liability for any such property loss or damage, personal injury or loss of life, regardless of the cause, whether based upon breach of contract, breach of warranty, active or passive negligence or any other legal theory, in consideration for using any of the Services.
From BIRD Rental Agreement for scooter rental
(Underlines added for emphasis)
RELEASES; DISCLAIMERS; ASSUMPTION OF RISK.
In exchange for Rider being allowed to use Bird Services, Vehicles, and other equipment or related information provided by Bird, Rider agrees to fully release, indemnify, and hold harmless Bird and all of its owners, managers, affiliates, employees, contractors, officers, directors, shareholders, agents, representatives, successors, assigns, and to the fullest extent permitted by law any Municipality (including its elected and appointed officials, officers, employees, agents, contractors, and volunteers) with which the operators have contracted with to provide Bird Services, and every sponsor of any of the Bird Services and all of the sponsor's owners, managers, affiliates, employees, contractors, officers, directors, shareholders, agents, representatives, successors, and assigns (collectively, the "Released Persons") from liability for all "Claims" arising out of or in any way related to Rider's use of the Bird Services, Vehicles, or related equipment, including, but not limited to, those Claims based on Released Persons' alleged negligence, breach of contract, and/or breach of express or implied warranty, except for Claims based on Released Persons' gross negligence or willful misconduct. Such released are intended to be general and complete releases of all Claims.
"Claims" means, collectively, any and all claims, injuries, demands, liabilities, disputes, causes of action (including statutory, contract, negligence, or other tort theories), proceedings, obligations, debts, liens, fines, charges, penalties, contracts, promises, costs, expenses (including attorney's fees, whether incurred at trial, on appeal, or otherwise), damages (including but not limited to, for personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, and injury to rider or to third parties, consequential, compensatory, or punitive damages), or losses (whether known, unknown, asserted, unasserted, fixed, conditional, or contingent) that arise from or relate to (a) any of the Bird Services, including any of the Vehicles, placement, equipment, maintenance, related information, this agreement or (b) Rider's use of any of the foregoing.
To the fullest extent permitted by law, and as to Rider's use of any of the Bird Services, Vehicles, or related equipment, Bird and all other Released Persons disclaim all express and implied warranties, including warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. All of the Bird Services, Vehicles, and related equipment are provided "as is" and "as available," and Rider relies on them at Rider's own risk.
Rider is aware that Rider's use of any of the Bird Services, Vehicles, and related equipment involves obvious and not-so-obvious risks, dangers, and hazards that may result in injury or death to Rider or others and damage to property, and that such risks, dangers, and hazards cannot always be predicted or avoided. Risks, dangers, and hazards, include, but are not limited to:
· vehicles and other objects;
· Vehicle or component malfunction;
· road conditions;
· weather conditions;
· failure to follow applicable laws regarding use and/or operation of the Vehicle pursuant to Section 1.7;
· commission of any of the prohibited acts listed in Section 1.8;
· failure to perform the required safety check pursuant to Section 3.1;
· failure to wear a helmet where required by law; and
· negligent acts or omissions by Bird, any other Released Person, Rider, or third party.
Rider is solely and fully responsible for the safe operation of Vehicle at all times. Rider agrees that Vehicles are machines that may malfunction, even if the Vehicle is properly maintained and that such malfunction may cause injury. Rider assumes full and complete responsibility for all related risks, dangers, and hazards.
To the fullest extent permitted by law, this release and hold harmless agreement includes any and all Claims related to or arising from the sole or partial negligence of Bird, the Released Parties, any Municipality or any other party. Rider hereby expressly waives any claims against the Released Parties, any Municipality or any other party which Rider does not know or suspect to exist in his or her favor at the time of use of Bird Services, and expressly waives Rider's rights under any statutes that purport to preserve Rider's unknown claims.
RIDER ACCEPTANCE OF AGREEMENT
I certify that I have read and expressly agree to the terms and conditions of Section 15 Releases; Disclaimers; Assumption of Risk, and I acknowledge that this section limits my legal rights and remedies. I intend my assent to this Agreement to be a complete and unconditional release of all liability to the greatest extent permitted by law. I represent and certify that I am familiar with the operation of the Vehicle, and am reasonably competent and physically fit to ride the Vehicle.
I certify that I am the Rider, I am 18 years old or over, I will wear a helmet where required by law, I will not ride a Bird with another occupant, I will obey all traffic laws, I will ride at my own risk, and I have read and expressly agree to the terms and conditions set forth in this Agreement.