Alternative Transportation 101: Owning and Insuring

In recent years, the landscape of urban mobility has faced growing pressure to change. With increased traffic, limited parking, and fuel costs on the rise, traditional cars are less appealing for many in urban areas.

Fortunately, smaller transportation options powered by green tech are on the rise. From electric bikes to small four-wheeled vehicles, people are increasingly turning to alternatives. Plus, if lowering your carbon footprint is important to you, they offer a less expensive alternative to buying a Tesla or even a Prius.

While these alternative modes of transportation offer all kinds of benefits, it’s crucial to understand the importance of insuring them adequately. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll also dive into the preferred ways of buying coverage for these practical, and often money saving, vehicles.

Parking Privileges

The allure of new electric vehicles lies in their ability to mitigate the challenges associated with conventional cars. As urban areas become more congested, finding efficient modes of transport becomes crucial. Electric bikes, scooters, and neighborhood-friendly small vehicles offer flexibility and maneuverability, allowing riders to navigate traffic with ease. Additionally, their compact size makes them ideal for navigating congested streets and squeezing into tight parking spaces.

Escaping the Gas Price Trap

Another driving factor behind the adoption of alternative transportation is the rising cost of gas. As traditional fuel prices continue to fluctuate, consumers are seeking more economical options for their daily commute. Most of the new alternative vehicles will be powered by electricity, which is cheaper and more stable in price compared to gasoline.

Electric Bikes

Electric bikes, or e-bikes, blend the convenience of traditional bicycles with electric propulsion systems. They come in various forms, from sleek city commuters to rugged mountain bikes. One of the primary advantages of e-bikes is their versatility. Riders can pedal manually or engage the electric motor for assistance, allowing for effortless navigation through urban landscapes and hilly terrain alike.

Compared to scooters and golf carts, e-bikes offer superior maneuverability, particularly in congested areas. Their compact size enables riders to weave through traffic and access narrow pathways, making them ideal for city commuters seeking agility and convenience. Additionally, e-bikes let you burn some calories through pedaling while offering electrical assistance on longer distances or uphill climbs.

However, e-bikes have limitations, notably in terms of speed and carrying capacity. While capable of reaching moderate speeds, they may not match the swiftness of scooters or the stability of golf carts. There are currently 3 classes of e-bikes with speeds of 20 mph to as much as 60 mph.1 You should research your local laws to decide which class will work best for your needs.

Electric Scooters

Electric scooters have surged in popularity as a convenient urban transportation option. With their compact design and effortless operation, scooters offer a convenient alternative to traditional vehicles for short-distance travel. Scooter-sharing services have further facilitated their widespread adoption, providing commuters with on-demand access to this mode of transportation.

One of the key advantages of electric scooters is their speed and efficiency. With powerful electric motors, scooters can reach higher speeds than many e-bikes, allowing for quicker travel over short distances. The most common scooters offer a foldable design, enabling users to carry them on public transportation and store them in tight spaces. You can also choose heavier and more stable scooters that closely resemble mopeds.

However, all scooters have limitations concerning stability and safety, particularly at higher speeds. Their small wheels and lightweight construction make them susceptible to bumps and uneven terrain. Additionally, the lack of weather protection exposes riders to the elements, which can be inconvenient during inclement weather. While many electric scooters are limited to 25mph, some can go 50mph or more.2 For the latter, you should check local laws for legality.

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles

Often called golf carts (but with special equipment to make them street legal), Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) or Low Speed Electric Vehicles (LSVs) have evolved to become viable urban transportation options. These compact electric vehicles are designed for short-distance travel within residential areas, campuses, and gated communities. NEVs offer a spacious and comfortable seating arrangement, making them suitable for transporting multiple passengers or hauling cargo.

One of the primary advantages of NEV golf carts is their stability and safety features. With four wheels, sturdy construction, and a low center of gravity, they provide a smooth and secure ride, even at lower speeds. Additionally, many NEVs come equipped with amenities such as headlights, turn signals, and seat belts, enhancing their safety profile.

However, NEVs are limited in terms of speed and range compared to e-bikes and scooters. Their usage is predominantly confined to residential neighborhoods, limiting their utility for urban commuters navigating larger metropolitan areas. You need to pay close attention to state and local laws because most states typically limit their road usage to 25 or 35 mph.3 Moreover, the lack of agility and maneuverability may pose challenges in densely populated urban settings.

Understanding Your Insurance Options

While the benefits of these convenient vehicles are undeniable, it’s essential to recognize the importance of insurance coverage to protect yourself and your vehicle. Just like traditional automobiles, e-bikes, scooters, and NEVs are susceptible to accidents, theft, and damage. Plus, their lack of protective equipment and smaller size make them inherently more vulnerable than traditional four-wheeled vehicles. As such, securing adequate insurance coverage is paramount to mitigate potential financial losses and safeguard your well-being.

When you shop for insurance, it’s crucial to understand the specific options available. Depending on the type of vehicle and its intended use, you may need different types of coverage:

E-Bike and Scooter Insurance

Electric bikes and scooters mostly fall into the same category for coverage, unless your scooter is categorized as a motorcycle. Insurance companies are starting to offer specialized policies to protect riders against accidents, theft, and liability, reflecting a growing market. These policies typically cover bodily injury, property damage, and theft, with some insurers offering additional coverage for accessories.

Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Insurance 

Like automobile insurance, insurance policies for NEVs typically encompass several fundamental coverages, such as property damage liability, bodily injury liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. With 15,000 injuries every year, you can’t afford to take chances.4 The right policies aid in repairing damages and covering expenses if you cause an accident injuring others or damaging property. While some states don’t mandate NEV insurance, it can be beneficial due to theft, damage risks, and accident liabilities. Coverage specifics include property and bodily injury liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage for theft or non-collision damages.

Who is Answer Financial?

Alternative vehicles offer a compelling solution to the challenges of urban mobility, providing efficiency, affordability, and environmental sustainability. By understanding the insurance options available and factors such as vehicle type, experience, and location, riders can get around with peace of mind. Depending on your usage, damage or liability that’s not directly covered might also be covered under an umbrella insurance policy.5

Answer Financial can help you navigate the complex ins and outs of insuring your new transportation. We work with more than 40+ top-rated carriers to save our customers an average of $565 a year on insurance.Our licensed agents are ready to help you compare, buy and often save the smart way on insurance. If you’re in the market for one of these vehicles, speak with one of our experts to find the right policies for your needs. 


  1. Wired, “What Are Ebike ‘Classes’ and What Do They Mean?”
  2. CNET, “Best Electric Scooter for 2024,”
  3., “Golf Cart Laws,”
  4. Reuters, “Golf carts: What insurance coverage is par for the course?”
  5. Wall Street Journal, “4 Ways You May Be Covered When Riding an Electric Scooter or E-Bike,”

*Results of a national survey of new Answer Financial customers reporting insurance savings 2023.