Scooter Riders Advised to Avoid Insurance Pothole

More on the scooter fad from Insurance Journal…specifically, what’s not typically covered when a rider causes an accident.

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We’ve all seen reports about head injuries, traffic accidents and even deaths that electric scooter riders have suffered as the popular new mobility option has pushed onto the streets in more than 100 cities worldwide.

Despite the dangers, riders are exposing themselves to liability and are most likely not insured for the damages they may cause.

A rider’s personal health insurance — if he or she has it — could help defray the cost of their own medical bills in case of an accident.

But it’s another matter entirely when a scooter rider hits and injures a pedestrian, damages someone’s property or causes a car accident. The rider may be held responsible, and most insurance policies will not cover those expenses.

“Under the standard insurance policy, there’s most likely a pretty significant gap in coverage,” said Lucian McMahon, senior research specialist for the Insurance Information Institute. “Even if the odds are low, it doesn’t mean that something bad might not happen, and owing people money or compensation for injuries that you caused them can get very, very expensive, perhaps even ruinously so.”

The two largest scooter companies in the U.S. — Bird and Lime — generally place the responsibility for accidents on riders by listing in their rental agreements that riders relieve the companies of liability. Customers must agree to those terms to ride.

Bird says riders are fully insured for anything that might happen as a result of a faulty Bird scooter. Lime says its insurance policy offers at least $1 million in liability coverage for each covered claim, but there’s no way to know whether a claim is covered until an investigation is done, and each claim is unique.

Despite the scooter companies’ liability insurance, experts say responsibility for damages is likely to fall on the riders’ shoulders, because of the terms and conditions users agree to when they download the app.

“These are such new modes of transportation that the courts have not weighed in on any of this,” said Bryant Greening, attorney and co-founder of LegalRideshare, which represents clients injured in ride-hailing or shared scooter accidents. “Generally speaking, these waivers of liability hold up in court, but we’re going to have to see what happens as more and more of these injury cases are brought and are litigated.”

Electric scooter riders might think their auto insurance would kick in to cover an electric scooter accident, but automobile insurance generally doesn’t cover vehicles with less than four wheels. And homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may cover an accident that occurs on a traditional bicycle, but it does not cover motorized bike or scooter trips.

“Once you motorized that scooter or that bike, then the equation changes,” said Bob Passmore, assistant vice president at the American Property Casualty Insurance Association. “More likely than not, most people’s home liability or their renters’ liability probably aren’t going to provide coverage for that.”

So what can scooter riders do to protect themselves? Experts suggest calling an insurance agent to ask how to get coverage. If you have a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, you may be able to add an `”umbrella policy,” which can cover more scenarios and include higher limits for coverage than typical homeowner’s or renter’s policies.

For example, State Farm offers a personal liability umbrella policy that the company said may cover an electric scooter driver’s liability for damages they cause, but all claims are investigated based on their own merits. Allstate offers an umbrella policy to customers that have a qualifying auto or property insurance policy. The umbrella policy doesn’t specifically state that it covers electric scooters in promotional materials, but there is a “recreational vehicles” category.

Nationwide’s policies do not provide liability coverage for losses arising out of the use of shared electric scooters. The company says it supports shared mobility options and believes the devices should be governed by common-sense regulation that emphasizes safety and protects all road users. “When that is in place, insurance covering the operation of a shared mobility device should be provided directly to the consumer by the device provider,” Nationwide said in a statement.

“Read your policy and talk to your insurance agent,” Passmore said. “There’s certainly some issues that need to be worked out.”

Voom, an Israeli company which offers on-demand insurance for drone operators in the U.S., plans to roll out per-ride insurance that covers electric scooters and is targeting riders and providers as potential customers.

“My partner being a scooter owner, and me being a scooter sharing rider, we kind of realized, who is insuring those things?” said Ori Blumenthal, co-founder and CTO of Voom. “If you go to all the scooter sharing companies and you look at the terms and conditions, you actually take responsibility and liability for everything that may happen.”

Riders in the U.S. took 38.5 million trips on shared scooters last year, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials. Within a few days of Chicago’s recent electric scooters launch, LegalRideshare got calls from injured riders asking for help.

If a rider causes a car crash, he or she could be badly injured and still be held financially responsible for damages to the car, Greening said. If the rider injures a pedestrian, the rider could be responsible for the pedestrian’s medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Many shared electric scooter riders are riding scooters for the first time, increasing the chance of injury, Greening said.

“They don’t think to themselves, `boy if something goes wrong here I might be on the hook for thousands and thousands of dollars,”’ Greening said.

Avoid a Workers’ Comp Disaster With Smart Electric Scooter Limits for Employees

See below from our friends at XMI PEO regarding the recent electric scooter fad. Interesting times!

Move over, Uber. Electric scooters are the latest transportation fad popping up in cities of all sizes. Urban commuters across the country are zipping around on these devices, utilized by a smartphone app and rented by the minute.

While e-scooters offer an easy and sustainable way to get around, their fast popularity is already sparking concern for businesses whose employees are using them on company time. Whether an employee hops on a scooter to make a customer delivery, run an office errand, or meet with a client across town, riding these devices on the clock exposes companies to workers’ compensation risks that they may never see coming. And with more employees using scooters to commute to and from work, the lines of liability can get murky.

Scooter operators typically require users to sign waivers absolving the manufacturer of any responsibility should an accident happen. In case of a serious injury, however, these waivers are usually not worth the paper they’re printed on. Nonetheless, if an employee is injured on a scooter while conducting what’s considered to be company business, the employer could end up with a hefty workers’ comp claim. Worse yet, the business could get slapped with a tort lawsuit if an employee injures someone else or damages their property while riding a scooter.

Scooter accidents on the rise

How likely are these scenarios on a vehicle that goes less than 20 miles per hour? The chances are fairly high if you consider the spike in emergency room visits for injuries such as broken bones and concussions caused by scooter-related accidents. Few people who ride the scooters wear helmets or have much experience operating one. A recent study by UCLA found that only 4 percent of Los Angeles scooter users wear helmets. Combine that with hectic pedestrian and roadway traffic and distracted drivers, and the odds are ripe for a collision.

“Anytime you give someone a task that involves operating some kind of vehicle, something is bound to happen—it’s just a matter of time,” says Gordon Berger, a law partner with Atlanta-based FisherBroyles LLP, which advises XMI on labor and employment issues.

“Like any emerging technology that can be used as a means of transportation during work, employers have a responsibility to make sure employees understand what safe and practical use would be,” Berger says.

Employees and electric scooters

So, what’s the best way to handle employees using scooters during work hours? There are several routes you could take, but if you want to protect your company from being held liable for potential accidents, you need a clear-cut policy on what’s acceptable for their use.

First of all, decide if you want to give employees the option of using scooters. You could put a disclaimer in your employee handbook stating that you don’t recommend or approve their use during work hours or for business-related activities. That puts the onus on employees, who could face disciplinary action for violating the policy.

“Reinforcing the way you feel about your employees using these types of vehicles through company policies, payroll stuffers and email is the best way to protect yourself,” says Paul Hughes, CEO of Libertate Insurance, an Orlando-based property and casualty insurance provider. “You can’t be with them every minute of every day, but you can document how you expect them to act and enforce it as best you can.”

Proceed with caution—and scooter safety guidelines

If you want to give workers the freedom to use scooters, it’s best to set some safety parameters, such as requiring them to wear a helmet and learning how to operate one first. You may even want to restrict when and where they can use scooters or how fast they can drive them. It’s also wise to ban their use of cell phones, headphones or other devices while maneuvering scooters through busy streets.

“It’s possible to come up with a happy medium that allows employees to participate in this new technology, while limiting their use of it in ways that don’t seem sensible or safe,” Berger says.

https://xmigrowth.com/scooters-and-workers-comp/

The History of Father’s Day

I am fortunate enough to have 3 men I call dad. I won’t go into why but my love for the dads in my life prompted me to dig into the history of Father’s Day. Ironically, Fathers’ Day was started by a woman, Sonora Smart Dodd, who was perplexed as to why fathers weren’t celebrated to the same extent as mothers on an annual basis. In her opinion, her father who was a widower and raised 6 children on his own definitely deserved acknowledgement. And, so it began…this wonderful day that praises the many biological dads, step-dads, men (and women) who are raising their children to be, at the most basic of levels, good people.

From all of us at Libertate, here’s to you Dad!

Click here for more information on this wonderful day.

Extensis Named Company of the Year by CIO Applications Magazine

See the below/attached article circulated by NAPEO regarding Extensis’ most recent award. Congrats!

NAPEO member Extensis Group LLC has been named a company of the year by CIO Applications magazine. The publication noted how HR departs have evolved, and the immense value proposition that PEOs hold. Extensis was recognized for its technology offerings. CIO Applicationswrites, “Extensis caters to its clients through a fully cloud based human resource information system (HRIS) platform: HRCloud. The service suite comprises HR administration and consulting, workers’ compensation, and risk management, along with Fortune 500-level employee benefits.  Managers can oversee their employee workforce through the Manager Self-Service portal and worksite employees can view their PTO, personal deductions, and 401(k) contributions in Employee Self-Service.”

50 Fastest Growing Women Owned/Led Companies Announced by Capital One and Women Presidents’ Organization

Congrats to Erica Brune of Lever1 and Pam Evette of Quality Business Solutions for making this list! Quite an accomplishment! See the full article below.

12TH Annual Awards Ceremony Recognizing Fast Growth Held in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 2, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), along with Capital One, has announced the 12th annual ranking of the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies. The companies featured on this year’s list include a wide variety of industries, such as technology and finance. Aggregate revenues are $5.9 billion, demonstrating the significant impact of women-led companies on the global economy.

Women Presidents' Organization logo. (PRNewsFoto/Women Presidents' Organization) (PRNewsfoto/Women Presidents' Organization)
Women Presidents’ Organization logo. (PRNewsFoto/Women Presidents’ Organization) (PRNewsfoto/Women Presidents’ Organization)

The top five winners are:

  • Enspire Energy, LLC, a full-service natural gas marketing company, run by Mary Hensley and Julie Hashagen, is the number one winner in this year’s ranking.
  • The second fastest growing women-owned/led company is TKT & Associates, Inc., a business management firm run by Tierra Kavanaugh Wayne, in Louisville, KY.
  • In the number three spot is LYNC Logistics, LLC, which provides truckload, less-than-truckload, refrigerated, and specialized transportation services. Based in Chattanooga, it is run by Cynthia P. Lee, CEO and Founder.
  • The number four spot is Erica Brune’s Lever1, a Kansas City-based Professional Employer Organization (PEO).
  • Ranked number five is SPERO, a portfolio of profitable business enterprises. Based in Washington, D.C., SPERO is run by 26-year-old Jenelle S. Coy.

The number nine winner, Pamela S. Evette of Quality Business Solutions, located in Travelers Rest, SC, is Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. The number 22 winner, Patti MasseyMYCA Material Handling Solutions, Inc., is based in Cary, NC.

“At Capital One, we are passionate about supporting women business owners and leaders,” said Jenn Flynn, Head of Small Business Bank at Capital One. “The rise in women-owned businesses is an exciting trend to watch. These women are a real force, as reflected in the WPO 50 Fastest winners, and they are inspiring others to achieve great levels of success.”

“I am delighted our rankings show women entrepreneurs are branching out into every sector of business,” said WPO President and Founder Dr. Marsha Firestone. “We are also very encouraged companies of all sizes are represented – some smaller but very successful companies demonstrated significant growth.” 

All eligible companies were ranked according to a sales growth formula, combining percentage and absolute growth. To qualify for the ranking, businesses are required to be privately-held, woman-owned or led and have reached annual revenues of at least $500,000 as of 2013 and every subsequent year. Applicants are not required to be WPO members.

Additional facts:

  • Average number of employees on first day: 9; projected average for 2019: 492
  • Funding sources at company start:
The 2019 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies are:
1Enspire Energy, LLCMary Hensley and Julie HashagenChesapeake, VA
2TKT & Associates, Inc.Tierra Kavanaugh WayneLouisville, KY 
3LYNC Logistics, LLCCynthia P LeeChattanooga, TN
4Lever1Erica BruneKansas City, MO
5SPEROJenelle CoyWashington, DC
6Stride ConsultingDebbie MaddenNew York, NY
7Xtreme Solutions IncPhyllis W. NewhouseAtlanta, GA
8Within Interior Design, Inc.Heather R. RobinsonNorfolk, VA
9Quality Business Solutions, Inc.Pamela EvetteTravelers Rest, SC
10Merrimak Capital Company LLCMary KariotisNovato, CA
11Maximum Games, Inc.Christina SeelyeWalnut Creek, CA,
12Pretzel Perfection, LLC dba Perfection SnacksAmy HolykDoylestown, PA
13Technology Group Solutions, LLCLenora PayneLenexa, KS
14Marijuana Business DailyCassandra FarringtonLakewood, CO
15KDM EngineeringKimberly MooreChicago, IL
16EnseoVanessa OgleRichardson, TX
17LifeHealth, LLCMargot Adam LangstaffLittleton
18Quantum HealthKara TrottColumbus, OH
19Innovative Office Solutions LLCJennifer SmithBurnsville, MN
20Twelve, Inc.Katie ConovitzBrooklyn, NY
21GlobalCare Clinical Trials, LLCGail AdinamisBannockburn, IL
22MYCA Material Handling Solutions, Inc.Patti MasseyCary, NC
23KaTom Restaurant Supply, IncPatricia BibleKodak TN
24Artech LLCRanjini PoddarMorristown, NJ
25AEC Group, Inc.Cathy MaryMcKeesport, PA
26Coranet Corp.Margaret MarcucciNew York, NY
27BrightStar CareShelly A. SunGurnee, IL
28AtriumRebecca CenniNew York NY
29SwoonMichelle BakerChicago, IL
30CB Technologies, Inc.Kelly IrelandOrange, CA
31ERKUNT TRACTOR IND.INC.Zeynep ArmaganAnkara, Turkey
32Ampcus Inc.Ann RamakumaranChantilly, VA
33CMT Services, Inc.Annette JohnsonHyattsville, MD
34Blue Chip TalentNicole PawczukBloomfield Hills, MI
35E2 OPTICS LLCKristi Alford-HaarbergEnglewood, CO
36Strategic Security CorpChristie SordiCommack, NY
37Atlas Travel & Technology GroupElaine OsgoodMarlborough, MA
38CJ ChemicalsCatherine LeePerry, MI
39Data Systems Analysts, Inc.Frances R. PierceTrevose, PA
40SocialfixTerry TateossianClinton, NJ
41Stones River ElectricJami HallMadison, TN
42Kaizen Technology Partners LLCDao JensenSan Francisco, CA
43Xclusive StaffingDiane AstleyWestminster, CO
44Koya Leadership PartnersKatie BoutonNewburyport, MA
45Evolution Event Solutions, LLCFalon Veit ScottNashville, TN
46NUGATE GROUP, LLCJamila StanfordSan Jose, CA
47Airosmith DevelopmentMargaret SmithSaratoga Springs, NY
48ShareableeTania YukiNew York, NY
49Etica Group, Inc.Jessica NickloyIndianapolis, IN
50SpaceBound, Inc.Patricia MillerCleveland, OH

About Capital One 
Capital One Financial Corporation is headquartered in McLean, Virginia. Its subsidiaries, Capital One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. We apply the same principles of innovation, collaboration and empowerment in our commitment to our communities across the country that we do in our business. We recognize that helping to build strong and healthy communities – good places to work, good places to do business and good places to raise families – benefits us all and we are proud to support this and other community initiatives.

CONTACT:Frank TortoriciMarketing Mavenfrank@marketingmaven.com908-875-8908 MobileMarissa DavisCapital Onemarissa.davis@capitalone.com(484) 620-2247 Mobile

Marijuana Legalization Update: Five Things You Need To Know

See below from our friends at NCCI regarding a very popular topic these days…Cannabis.

Marijuana legalization continues to be a hot topic in 2019. Most states have legalized marijuana in some form, and there is much speculation around federal activity. NCCI is monitoring legislative, judicial, and other developments as this issue evolves. Our latest update addresses the top five questions on the minds of our workers compensation industry stakeholders.

  1. What is the status of marijuana legalization? Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level and remains classified as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. However, there is ongoing activity at the federal and state levels to address marijuana legalization and related issues. The current status of state marijuana legalization is shown in the map below:
    • Recreational marijuana is legal in 10 states plus DC
    • Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states plus DC
    • CBD oil/non-psychoactive forms of marijuana are legal in an additional 14 states under certain circumstances
    • Three states currently do not have laws legalizing marijuana in some form, but two of them (Kansas and Nebraska) have pending legislation
  2. What is happening legislatively in 2019? NCCI is tracking marijuana-related legislation in more than 20 states, as well as at the federal level.Federally, legislation to decriminalize marijuana is pending before Congress. Decriminalization at the federal level is viewed as unlikely in the short term. Meanwhile, Congress is also considering measures that allow for state regulation of marijuana without federal interference and provide protections to financial institutions that serve marijuana-related businesses that are legal under state law.Federal legislation providing protections to financial institutions is already advancing. On March 28, the House Financial Services Committee approved H.R. 1595, which provides financial institutions and insurers that provide services for legitimate cannabis-related businesses with a safe harbor from criminal prosecution.Regarding state legislative activity, as of April 1, an additional 15 states are considering legalizing recreational marijuana and 8 are considering legalizing medical marijuana. NCCI is also tracking several state bills addressing the issue of medical marijuana reimbursement in workers compensation.
  3. Are insurers required to reimburse for medical marijuana in workers compensation? One of the emerging workers compensation issues is whether medical marijuana is reimbursable. Insurers are increasingly receiving requests to reimburse for medical marijuana use for workers compensation treatment. Given the friction between state and federal law, states are faced with the challenge of whether to approve medical marijuana treatment for work-related injuries. This issue is being addressed through legislation as well as in the courts. Over the years, states such as Connecticut, Minnesota, New Mexico, and New York have permitted reimbursement for medical marijuana in certain circumstances. New Mexico has even established a maximum reimbursement amount for medical marijuana in its workers compensation fee schedule. Other states, including Florida and North Dakota, have enacted laws prohibiting payment of workers compensation benefits for medical marijuana. Louisiana passed legislation in 2018 which provided that medical marijuana reimbursement is not required for workers compensation purposes.During the 2019 legislative session, several states—including Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont—have considered or are considering legislation to authorize the reimbursement of medical marijuana in workers compensation.On the other hand, Kentucky and Oklahoma lawmakers proposed legislation similar to the Louisiana law, which does not prohibit reimbursement, but also does not affirmatively require employers and workers compensation insurers to pay for medical marijuana.
  4. Have there been any new rulings from the courts regarding medical marijuana reimbursement? In addition to state legislation, state courts are addressing the issue as to whether medical marijuana is reimbursable in workers compensation. In March 2019, the New Hampshire Supreme Court held that the state’s medical marijuana law does not prohibit reimbursement under workers compensation. However, the court did not rule that the insurer is required to reimburse. The supreme court remanded the case to the compensation appeals board to provide additional legal support on the federal issues involved in the case; specifically, whether federal law would be violated if the insurer is ordered to reimburse for the payment of medical marijuana.In 2018, the Maine Supreme Court ruled in the Bourgoin v. Twin Rivers Paper Co. case that employers are not required to reimburse for marijuana as a workers compensation treatment. The court determined that because marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, Maine’s medical marijuana law is preempted and cannot be used as the basis to require reimbursement.The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents and the Vermont Department of Labor have also recently denied reimbursement for medical marijuana treatment for workers compensation claimants.
  5. Have there been any new developments regarding research studies or a test to determine impairment? One outstanding workers compensation issue is whether medical marijuana is a viable alternative to opioids for pain management and getting employees back to work sooner. Since marijuana is still illegal under federal law, research has been limited to date. Another outstanding issue is how to determine “impairment” for marijuana and the impact on workers compensation benefits if an employee is injured on the job and tests positive. There are efforts under way to develop tests similar to breathalyzers and other methods currently available to test blood alcohol levels, which would better help define what could be considered appropriate “impairment” levels. Until those tests are fully developed and implemented, states and state courts are addressing this issue on a case-by-case basis. For example, in November 2018 the Oklahoma state court of appeals ruled in Rose v. Berry Plastics Corp. that the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in an employee’s blood after a workplace accident does not automatically mean that the employee should be denied workers compensation benefits due to impairment. There is also pending legislation in Oklahoma (SB 305) which, among other things:
    • Clarifies instances in which an employer may take action against an employee or applicant who tests positive for marijuana
    • Provides that employers will not be required to permit or accommodate the use of medical marijuana on their premises or reimburse a person for costs associated with the use of medical marijuana
    • Authorizes employers to have written policies regarding drug testing and impairment

The legislation has passed the Oklahoma Senate and is awaiting action in the House.NCCI will continue to track these developments.

Stay tuned to ncci.com for updates on marijuana legislation and other hot topics throughout the year.

https://www.ncci.com/Articles/Pages/II_Insights_MarijuanaFocusupdate.aspx

Big Data was a BIG Deal at NAPEO’s Risk Management Conference

Last week’s Risk Management Conference hosted by our friends at NAPEO was a huge success! For those that weren’t able to attend click here to access the Big Data presentation that was presented by the following individuals:

  • James Benham / JBKnowledge
  • Paul Hughes / Libertate Insurance Services
  • Kristin Meeker / CCMSI
  • Chase Pettus / gradient A.I.

NAPEO’s Risk Management Conference Ready to Invade Nashville on March 6th and 7th!

NAPEO’s annual Risk Management Conference is right around the corner! It’s a must see conference for those interested in risk management and other related areas of focus. Click here to access the agenda. Below are presentation topics:

  • Workers’ Compensation Rate Update
  • Crime Insurance
  • Big Data
  • Cyber Security
  • PEOs and Cannabis
  • Payroll Fraud

Libertate is proud to be a sponsor of this wonderful conference. We hope to see you there. If attending, we would love to buy you a drink and talk about insurance, data and the PEO industry!

Paul – phughes@libertateins.com

David – dburgess@libertateins.com

Sharlie – sreynolds@libertateins.com