NB: The copy below was commissioned by mobilitypitstop.com while I was working at harmony.co.uk. It was part of the SEO work undertaken, though was chiefly aimed to provide useful information to the site’s audience. The original article can be read at their website. Image by antphotos on flickr, CC license.
Legal Issues and Insurance for Mobility Scooters and Powered Wheelchairs
The Law on Scooters and Powered Wheelchairs
There are UK laws that cover the use of scooters and powered wheelchairs outdoors off private land. In law, these are still referred to as “invalid carriages”. The powered scooters and wheelchairs fit into two classes:
- Pavement vehicles
- Cannot go on the road apart from to cross them
- For use on the footway “a portion of a carriageway that is set aside for use only by pedestrians”
- Limited to 4mph
- Constructed or adapted to go at 4mph, but no more than 8mph
- Cannot exceed 4mph while on a footway
- Tend to be larger vehicles than class 2
- Often there is a switch to change from 4mph speed to 8mph speeds
- Not permitted to drive on motorways, cycle lanes or bus lanes
- Must have lights, indicators, horn, rear view mirror, brakes and rear reflectors
Drivers of both classes must be disabled, and at least 14 years old. Drivers of these do not need to hold a UK driving license.
Mobility Scooter Insurance
Insurance is not required by law for your mobility scooter, but it is a very recommended essential. At the very least, you should insurance yourself against claims from third parties.
Insurance will cover you if you knock someone over, run over a person’s foot, knock a display of expensive goods over, scrape a parked car, or cause an accident.
When looking for a policy, look for:
- Comprehensive cover, including loss or damage as a result of accidental damage, fire, theft and vandalism.
- Equipment replacement, new for old, so that if your equipment is stolen and not recovered, or damaged beyond reasonable repair, you can get a replacement, as long as the equipment is less than two years old.
- The option of a daily allowance to cover you if your equipment is unusable following an insured event.
- Public liability cover for you or your carer to cover third party injury or damage by using your equipment.
- The opportunity to add cover for ongoing repairs, though the insurance cost may go up substantially if you add this
Costs vary between companies, but are usually between £40 and £90 per year, with the usual discounts for paying up front or in advance.
Remember, unlike a car, there is no recovery service you can call out if your equipment goes wrong while you are out. However, some insurance offers you to cover yourself for the cost of getting home, if you are stranded by breakdown or accident.
It is good practise to protect yourself from accidents by wearing a fluorescent waistcoat while driving your scooter outside, especially near or on roads. By hanging one on the back of your seat will increase your visibility to others, especially vehicle drivers.
Drive your scooter with care and attention, wearing your spectacles and hearing aid if you need them. Look out for small children, those with limited mobility and the visually impaired in pedestrian areas. Be considerate.
Always avoid leaving your equipment unattended, as equipment thefts do occur. If you do have to, ensure it has a key operated switch, and that you take it with you when you park up. Another way to secure your equipment is to use a cycle lock to secure it exactly as you would a bicycle. If you fail to do this, the insurers may not pay out for theft of vandalism, as they will claim you have not taken proper precautions to prevent an incident.