Madam Ang Liu Kiow was probably least expecting that on 17 September 2016, she would have to be spending the next 3 miserable months in Changi Hospital undergoing 2 major brain operations, suffering multiple mini-strokes in between plus going into a comma. Unexpectedly, her medical bill ballooned to over $100k not counting that she would still need a prolong period of physiotherapy sessions before her full recovery.
The culprit who landed her in so much suffering and trauma was an e-scooter rider, 18-year-old boy Nicholas Ting Nai Jie. He ran into Madam Ang while on his e-scooter running through the front of a bus stop at Pasir Ris Drive 1.
As e-scooters are getting more common as a popular form of Personality Mobility Device (PMD), the frequency of such accidents is definitely not going to decline even with the best practices put in place. You may be the most compliant e-scooter rider in Singapore but when the shit hits the fan, there's pretty much nothing you can do to prevent it.
Some examples to illustrate from an e-scooter rider’s POV : - Some pedestrian making a sudden turn into your blind spot while texting on his phone; - A stray cat dashed onto your path unexpectedly while you managed to avoid the feline, you rammed into a group of school children; - In a state of fatigue, instead of braking you pressed the throttle at a zebra crossing knocking over a pregnant lady etc Though getting a PMD insurance is not compulsory for now, it definitely helps you as an e-scooter rider! Let's find out more!
Primarily, the purpose of insurance is to transfer pure risk to the insurance company. In our case, a personal accident (PA) insurance plan looks appropriate but is it sufficient? A closer look at the features of a typical PA plan will yield some surprising observations! Generally, a basic PA plan covers you in an obvious case of an accident so long as it's not due to negligence or pre-existing health conditions. Accidental death, permanent disability and medical expenses are claimable. The cover is also worldwide. One glaring benefit that is not included in most PA plans is "Personal Liability". This means if you knock down someone with your e-scooter with both of you sustaining injuries and the victim sues you later, your PA plan might cover your own medical expenses but not for personal liability.
A new category of insurance called PMD insurance has been the talk of the town lately. Specifically tailored for riders of bicycles and PMDs, it offers e-scooter riders a greater peace of mind as it covers the usual accidental death, permanent disability, medical expenses with the prominent feature of “Personal Liability" which can protect your liability to a third party from $500k to $1m per year. The cover offered by eligible insurance companies is restricted geographically to Singapore at the point of writing. One important point to take note is the insured must abide by the rules recommended by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel, Road Traffic Act or National Parks. So if you're riding your heavily modded Inokim Light on the SLE speeding at 90km/hr and crash into a motorcycle, then good luck to you.
Some areas of concern are theft and pillion riding. For theft, no PMD insurance can cover that for now. You also have to take note that if your e-scooter is damaged in an accident, the repair cost cannot be claimed. As e-scooters are not really designed for pillion riding and should an accident occur, only the rider is covered. If you are regularly ferrying your child, you will need to get a separate cover. The child must also be at least 8 years old to qualify. If you are using e-scooter as part of your occupation's demand where you are receiving some form of payment such as food delivery riders or professional racers etc, do note that the PMD insurance cover does not apply to you. Riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol will also render your PMD insurance useless.
So in a nutshell, it would be prudent to have a combination of PA and PMD insurance to protect you financially against accidental death, disability, medical expenses and personal liability for most scenarios. We hope this article has given you some insightful tips on how you can protect yourself financially from PMD-related accidents and third-party liability.
Terence Hon, Financial Planner and recreational e-scooter rider
Currently available PMD Insurance plans in Singapore:
- NTUC Income Personal Mobility Guard
- Etiqa ePROTECT personal mobility