Electric scooters have been, for a few years, the protagonists of large cities. According to data from the DGT’s magazine Traffic, in 2019 sales of electric scooters exceeded 300,000 units, and in 2021, over a million Spaniards joined in the use of bicycles and electric scooters in cities. In this regard, the forecasts for 2022 are far above these figures, and data such as that in Spain there are more than 800,000 electric scooters confirm the hypotheses.
The rise of personal mobility vehicles (PMVs) is no coincidence: The increased awareness in society to protect the environment, and aspects such as the increase in fuel prices or the restrictions imposed on cars to travel through the centre of some cities, have directly affected the increase in the use of this type of vehicle.
However, the proliferation in the use of PMVs has also led to an increase in the number of accidents with injuries and even deaths. In 2020 alone, the last year for which complete data is available, the DGT (Directorate General of Traffic) recorded eight users of personal mobility vehicles who died in accidents, 97 seriously injured and 1,097 slightly injured. All this has reopened the debate on the need to regulate their use, including the protection of all users of public roads through insurance.
The new regulation on PMVs
With the aim of transposing Directive (EU) 2021/2118 of the European Parliament and of the Council, whereby regulatory legislation of the PMVs would be modified, the Ministries of Justice and Economic Affairs held a public consultation last March on the main points of the reform. A reform that will shortly be submitted to a public hearing so that all the parties involved can make their contributions.
Future regulations will include compensation for those injured as a result of accidents in the event of insolvency of the insurance company, the minimum mandatory amounts of insurance coverage, vehicle insurance controls by Member States, and the use of the accident history certificates of insurance policyholders, among others.
The Spanish legislator, for its part, must adapt the scope of application of the civil liability insurance for motor vehicle traffic to define the vehicles that must have civil liability insurance and determine the exclusions.
It must also establish guarantees to prevent insurance controls on vehicles that have their usual parking in the territory of another Member State, authorizing only Insurance controls that are non-discriminatory, provided that they are necessary and proportionate, form part of a general system of controls in the national territory of this type of vehicle and do not require the vehicle to be stopped.
Along the same lines, it will be responsible for ensuring that the use of claims certificates does not give rise to discrimination with surcharges on policies or the inability to benefit from discounts. And also the protection of those injured in accidents involving a trailer pulled by a vehicle. In addition, there will be no changes to the minimum mandatory coverage amounts, as the minimum insurance limits currently exceed those set in the new Directive.
The reality of insurance in Spain
Although nothing has been decided at the moment, before December 2023 Spain must adapt its regulations to the Community directive on motor vehicle insurance, which establishes that personal mobility vehicles will be required to have insurance. However, according to the General Directorate of Insurance and Pension Funds (DGS), current Spanish regulations only require the taking out of civil liability insurance for motor vehicles, which excludes PMVs for private use. A clear example is electric scooters, which are not considered motor vehicles and, therefore, do not require a driving licence or mandatory insurance, except when used by a rental company, tourist company, etc. In these circumstances, there is an obligation to insure.
The companies that rent scooters, electric bicycles and other PMVs already usually have civil liability insurance for the damages to third parties that the user may cause, but it is true that there is a kind of legal vacuum for the fleet of private PMVs that circulate every day on the streets. In response, the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Road Safety, the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and many municipalities, including the Barcelona City Council, are demanding that the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) also establish compulsory insurance for PMVs.
For the time being, although not mandatory, insurers are anticipating the new regulations, adapting the characteristics of the policies that cover users of scooters and other types of personal mobility vehicles, to a scenario in which cities are transforming towards a necessarily more sustainable mobility.