Not Bikeshare: Reason #27 - Insurance
FreeBike helps groups buy light electric vehicles in bulk. FreeBike also helps those groups deploy those vehicles to users in long-term formats, such as monthly rentals or bike lending libraries.
We often get asked if we do bikeshare, by which people mean programs where bikes (or scooters) are rented by the minute by people who pick them up and drop them off from the sidewalk or other public right-of-way. The answer to that question is no.
While there are dozens of reasons for our focus on group buying and long-term formats for users, we were reminded of another one the other day as we were helping a large bike lending library program put together the various contracts it needs in order to launch. That additional reason: insurance.
For better or worse, bikeshare and scooter-share programs have scared insurers to the point that insurance coverage is expensive and hard to come by. There are issues with rider safety. There are issues with the safety of people around the riders. There are issues with the people who service the shared vehicles. And so on. It's just not an industry that is in a great spot with regard to insurance.
The good news is, long-format bike rentals and bike libraries are in a very different place. Insurers have lots of experience with them, from many years of bike stores offering bike rentals, and the numbers show that these types of rentals are easily insurable. Each user meets a human being in-person to pick up their vehicle. Each user is responsible for one vehicle. Each vehicle is clearly in the possession of one person at all times. The vehicles are maintained by a single entity. Each vehicle is important to the person using it, and isn't just some quick fling to be tossed aside at the end of a ride. And, the track record is that all of those factors add up to long-format rentals and bike libraries being a safe bet for insurers.
So, if you're interested in having bikes or scooters or other light electric vehicles available for your employees at work, or your residents at a living complex, or your community via a bike library or similar format, you can rest easy knowing: FreeBike is not bike/scooter-sharing in the eyes of insurers.