Insurance for Scooters
Throughout much of Asia, the best way to get around is not by car. In places like Bali, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, scooters, mopeds or motorcycles are the easiest, fastest and cheapest mode of transport. However, riding a scooter comes with increased risk of injury and could prove incredibly costly if you unfortunately find yourself involved in an accident. Many standard travel insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for injuries resulting from riding a scooter. However, the good news is that some travel insurance policies will cover the use of scooters in certain circumstances. So, before you head to Bali with plans to explore the beautiful island by scooter, make sure you are covered under your travel insurance policy first.
Risks of hiring a scooter
Many Australians who travel to places like Bali will hire a scooter as a cheap and easy way to get around without fully contemplating the risks. In Bali in 2019, there were 540 deaths recorded from on-road accidents, the vast majority of which involved scooters, mopeds or motorcycles. Many more people are seriously injured on Bali’s roads each year. It is a similar story in other parts of Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia where scooters and mopeds are the main mode of transport. Worldwide, an average of two Australians a week are involved in reported scooter accidents overseas. If you feel confident driving a scooter, it can provide you with great freedom to travel place to place on your own schedule. It is also possible to hire a scooter in places like Bali for as little as $5 to $10 a day, which could be far cheaper than taking taxis or hiring a driver to ferry you around in a car all day. However, it is critically important to ensure your international travel insurance policy covers you for using a scooter. If you are not insured for scooter use, your medical bill could be thousands of dollars more than the scooter hire cost if you are involved in an accident.
Travel insurance that covers scooters
Some Australian travel insurance providers offer coverage for scooter hire if you meet a certain set of requirements. These requirements vary. Some insurance providers will only cover you for driving a scooter, motorcycle or moped if you hold a valid Australian motorcycle licence. Others require you to only hold a valid Australian motor vehicle drivers licence if you are riding a scooter that is 50cc’s or less. However, it is worth noting that common bikes that are rented in places like Bali are generally 100cc or 125cc four-gear, semi-automatic bikes. All policies state that you must be wearing a helmet at all times in line with local laws and requirements. You must also not be participating in a professional capacity, including motocross or racing. Coverage for scooters, motorcycles and mopeds is often available as an add-on to international travel insurance policies, rather than an automatic inclusion.
Even as an add-on, under most policies you will only be covered for personal injuries sustained while driving the scooter, motorcycle or moped. Coverage generally excludes damage sustained to the bike in an accident and personal liability cover if you injure someone else or damage someone else’s property. Be sure to closely check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) of any international travel insurance policy you are considering to make sure you are aware of the inclusions and exclusions of each policy before you travel and hire a scooter.
What if I’m a passenger on a scooter?
If you hold an international travel insurance policy which covers scooters, you will generally be covered as both a driver and a passenger. If you are a passenger on a scooter, motorcycle or moped, you need to ensure that the person driving holds a valid licence for the country that you are in. You will also need to wear a helmet in line with local laws and requirements.
What is not covered in scooter insurance policies?
Fairly standard exclusions apply from scooter coverage in most international travel insurance policies. In many cases, you won’t be covered if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, other than prescribed drugs. You must be riding the scooter for recreational purposes and not be part of a competition or race and you must not breach any conditions of the vehicle rental agreement. If you do not wear appropriate safety gear – including a helmet – coverage could be excluded. Check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) of any individual policy for a full list of exclusions.
Domestic travel insurance for motorcycles
Some domestic travel insurance policies offer motorcycle cover, either as a standard inclusion or an optional extra. Again, be sure to check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) so you are across what is and isn’t covered.
Tips to stay safe with a scooter rental
1. Only ride a bike if you are covered for it under travel insurance
If your travel insurance does not include the use of scooters, motorcycles or mopeds or does not offer this coverage as an additional add-on, do not hire or ride on one. Serious accidents can occur, which could leave you with thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket medical costs.
2. Always wear a helmet
Helmets are proven to significantly reduce the risk of serious head injuries and are essential when riding a scooter, motorcycle or moped. Your travel insurance policy will not cover you for injuries sustained in an accident if you are not wearing a helmet.
3. Don’t drink and drive
You might be on holidays in a foreign country, but the same basic road rules apply as in Australia. Drinking and driving is very dangerous and on top of voiding your travel insurance policy, it could land you in significant hot water legally.
4. Rent from a reputable company
In some places, scooter rentals are offered by locals on the street. However, these won’t come with a rental agreement and there are risks involved in that. Hire form a reputable company and take photos of the scooter before you take it to help ensure you cannot be held accountable for damage that was already there.
5. Drive carefully
Hiring a scooter in some foreign countries is not like riding around in Australia. Traffic conditions can be quite chaotic in some places and roads can be full of bumps, cracks and potholes. Drive carefully with the local conditions in mind.
What else can international travel insurance cover you for?
Holding an international travel insurance policy is essential before leaving Australia for an overseas trip and can cover far more than just scooter accidents. Comprehensive policies can cover you for overseas medical assistance and overseas medical and hospital expenses.
You may be covered for non-refundable cancellation costs if you have to cancel or cut short your trip due to a range of unforeseen circumstances. Coverage for lost, stolen or damaged luggage, valuables or other personal effects is a standard inclusion on most policies, as is delayed luggage if you arrive overseas but your bags do not make it on the same plane. If you are hiring a car overseas, many policies include rental vehicle excess cover up to certain limits if that car is damaged or stolen while in your possession. Personal liability cover is another common inclusion on most policies.