To put it bluntly, America is getting older and wider. By 2025, the number of Americans age 65 and older will be 66 million. Two out of every three Americans are overweight; one in three is obese. Add these statistics to the population of Americans with disabilities, illnesses or injuries that prevent walking and it's little wonder that the number of electric mobility devices, or EMDs, on our streets, sidewalks and parking lots is growing daily.
The problem is, auto insurance won't cover scooters since they require no license or registration, nor is homeowners insurance likely to pay a claim should they become involved in a vehicular accident outside the home.
Most manufacturers of EMDs specifically state that the devices are not meant for on-road use. Medicare, which last year shelled out $547 million for scooters, won't pay for one unless it is specifically intended for indoor use.
Several recent high-profile scooter-related traffic fatalities around the country have prompted the dialog over how to insure the growing numbers of these personal devices against liability, collision and medical losses.
Much of the focus is being placed not on the scooters themselves but on the legal status of the people steering them: They're not technically drivers since you don't need a driver's license to operate one, but they're not quite pedestrians either, since they need a scooter to get around. Most drive-thrus won't serve a customer on a motorized scooter for liability reasons.
A recent case here in Florida points up the problem. A 73-year old man went to a local watering hole, got hammered, left on his scooter and was struck but not killed by a car. The outcome? A DUI, you say? Nah. He was issued a citation for walking into the path of the automobile. That pedestrian thing again.
Add to this a crazy quilt of legal designations for speeds and vehicle types allowed on roadways, sidewalks, bike paths and other thoroughfares around the country, with or without headlights and tail lights, and it's little wonder that scooters are driving into dangerous legal territory.
If you own an EMD, have you ever filed an accident claim? If so, what was the outcome?
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