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E-bikes to be subject to insurance under new European law

Joe Robinson
25 May 2018

The rise of the e-bike could stall as new law enforces third-party insurance

The rapid growth of e-bikes across Europe could be set to stall after it was announced today by the European Commission that all e-bike riders without third-party insurance will in fact be riding illegally. 

The decision by the European Commission would encompass all motor-assisted bikes, including those with the smallest motors, as part of reforms to its Motor Vehicle Insurance Directive.

In a statement on its website the European Commission stated: 'The evaluation demonstrated that new types of motor vehicles, such as electric bikes (e-bikes), segways, electric scooters already fall within the scope of the Directive as interpreted by the Court of Justice.

'Furthermore, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, Member States have the power to exempt new types of electric motor vehicles from compulsory third party motor insurance on the condition that a national compensation fund will ensure compensation of victims in case of an accident.

'So there is no need to bring any legislative changes in this respect.'

Currently, e-bikes in the EU are pedal-assisted, limited to a 250W motor that only operated when the cyclists is pedalling. This motor will also cut out once the rider has hit the 25kmh limit.

In these latest laws, these legal e-bikes would fall under this category and be subject to insurance.

The European Commission seems unlikely to budge on this move, declaring that e-bikes should already be subject to full motor insurance, like that of a car or motorbike, and has ignored calls from the bike industry to reassess its approach.

The immediate worry is the effect that these new laws will have on current and future e-bike users. The rise of the e-bike has been attributed to those looking to cycle but either unable or unwilling to use a conventional bike.

The e-bike has been seen as the perfect alternative, allowing riders of all ages to continue cycling thanks to the pedal-assisted motor.

In 2017, sales of e-bikes in Western Europe totalled 1.6million. 

The question now will be, is the number of e-bikes sales going to fall with the added cost of insurance and will those using e-bikes be deterred by this added need for insurance? 

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