Outrage after a BBC programme on the dangers of uninsured mobility scooters on UK pavements and roads - The Trouble with Mobility Scooters - has prompted a flood of scooter users to belatedly apply for insurance, a specialist disability insurance broker, Fish, has claimed.
John Garrard, managing director of Fish Insurance said: "As soon as we opened the morning after the programme aired we were taking calls from people who had suddenly realised the risk they had been taking by it being uninsured."
Campaign for law changeThe BBC reported on tearaway mobility scooter riders users who had been involved in accidents. It featured Derby mum Caren Jepson who has been campaigning for tighter regulations since her young son was knocked down on a pavement in 2010 – and the rider failed to stop.
There are more mobility scooters in the UK – an estimated 333,000 – than any other country in Europe, but mobility scooters are exempt from the Road Traffic Act so riders need no insurance or driving test.
Department for Transport guidance says: "Although it is not a legal requirement, it is strongly advised that people take out insurance to cover personal safety, other people's safety and the value of the vehicle."
Personally liableGarrard explained: "The vast majority of mobility scooter users are both considerate and responsible but most are not insured. They don't feel they require it because of the message implied by the lack of statutory need. But accidents can happen to anyone and everyone can be held personally liable for their actions and that can mean big bills."
That risk is further highlighted by the value of some claims his firm deals with. Whilst most claims are for the repair or replacement of scooters following minor collisions with walls and railings – which can cost several thousand pounds – some are much more serious.
One user to benefit from Fish's £79 mobility scooter insurance, hit a chair in a library causing the person sitting in it to suffer neck and shoulder injuries. "That claim cost £19,000 to settle," reports Garrard. "Had they not been covered they could have been held personally liable, a potentially financially disastrous scenario."
This echoes a case detailed in the Trouble with Mobility Scooters in which an uninsured user was subject to a civil claim and found liable for more than £16,500 following an accident at a supermarket car park. That user tearfully recalled the devastating impact on her personal life of that case.
"It's terrible when you hear of such cases, especially when you know that for a relatively small premium people can benefit from up to £2m cover for such liability claims," says Garrard.