When push comes to shove and people are looking for any way to save money on gasoline and car-related costs, is it any wonder one huge driving population – women – are turning to scooters for transportation?
According to a recent report from the Motorcycle Industry Council, sales of scooters have jumped nearly 50 percent (49.6) for the first three months of 2011. And Allstate Insurance, reviewing its own internal data, says that three times more women requested quotes for scooter insurance than men in 2010.
That’s scooters, not motorcycles. There’s a big difference between the two, and it’s more than just horsepower. No big Harleys here, folks. Nope, scooters are those two-wheeled vehicles with small wheels and a low-powered gasoline or electric engine that’s geared to the rear wheel. Scooters are economical on gas, too. The average Vespa scooter gets approximately 75 miles to the gallon.
2010 MINI Scooter E ConceptEnlarge Photo
And E-scooters, electric-powered scooters, don't need gas at all -- though they do require electric recharging. MINI and Smart unveiled their e-scooter concepts during the 2010 Paris Motor Show.
But insuring those scooters – the Honda Reflex, Yamaha Razz and all Vespas – does and doesn’t follow some of the same conditions and requirements as car insurance.
Scooters do cost less to insure than cars and typically are less expensive to insure than motorcycles. But just as the cost of car insurance varies widely due to a number of different factors, the same holds true with scooter policies. The experience of the driver, driving record, and the age of the scooter and whether the driver has taken a safety driving course are just some of the variables.
Keith Rutman, vice president of Allstate’s consumer household unit says, “While economical and fun to drive, scooters can cost several thousand dollars. Adequate insurance coverage for the scooter and the driver are important and often-overlooked aspects of ownership.”
Just like auto insurance, scooter owners can obtain discounts, with the type and number varying by insurer and state. Chief among them are discounts for scooter owners who complete a cycle safety course, insure multiple vehicles (more than one scooter, scooter and one or more cars), combine scooter coverage with other insurance products.
Some insurers, such as GEICO, offer 10 percent discounts for mature riders, for renewing scooter coverage, and for transferring scooter coverage to GEICO. Progressive scooter insurance offers discounts for claims-free renewal, prompt payment, payment in full, responsible driver (no accidents/violations for the last three years), homeowner, and LoJack-equipped scooter.
What’s not clear is whether scooters are replacing cars or are just an alternative means of convenient solo transportation. FamilyCarGuide suspects the latter, since you can’t haul the kids and family gear on a scooter -- no way, no how.
But if you’re just running a quick errand that doesn’t require carting multiple bags home and is just in the neighborhood, a scooter may do just fine. They’re small enough not to take up too much room in the family garage or covered with a tarp in the driveway. And if you purchase a scooter as a way to cut down on gasoline expense and prices ease to the point where you feel comfortable going back to driving your car, you can probably sell the scooter fairly easily.
Just be sure to wear protective head gear and heavier clothing, drive defensively, and be fully aware of local laws before becoming a member of the scooter-instead-of-car set.