Confusion surrounds whether or not e-bike owners need to insure their vehicles. Readers of our other blog will have seen that you are permitted to drive an e-bike without a licence. But if you don’t need a licence, does that mean you also don’t need insurance.
This blog post will examine the regulations about e-bikes and whether or not you need to buy insurance.
E-bike riders ticketed for no insurance
Police have been issuing tickets to e-cyclists for not having insurance. The problem is, ICBC does not offer insurance for e-bikes. It’s a Catch-22, you can get a ticket for not having insurance even though you can’t buy insurance.
A lot of college students use e-bikes as a cost-effective way to get around. This has led to problems in places like Victoria where police have been doling out tickets for not having insurance. But is this justified?
Definition of an e-bike
E-bikes, also known as motor-assisted cycles, are defined under the Motor Vehicle Act as a device “to which pedals or hand cranks are attached that will allow for the cycle to be propelled by human power”.
According to the Motor Vehicle Act Motor Assisted Cycle Regulation, motor-assisted e-bikes must have electric motors, have a power output rating less than 500 watts and not be capable speeds of more than 32 km/hr.
It is also a requirement that the motor turns off or disengage if the driver stops pedalling, the accelerator controller is released or the brake is applied. This is a key distinction from scooters or limited-speed motorcycles because the motor should only be running while the e-bike is being propelled by human power.
Why doesn’t ICBC provide insurance for e-bikes?
The Insurance (Vehicle) Act makes it compulsory for all motor vehicles to have insurance. The act’s definition of a motor vehicle is the same as under the Motor Vehicle Act.
As we have seen, the Motor Vehicle Act’s definition of a motor-assisted cycle is separate from its definition of a motor vehicle. Motor-assisted cycles are therefore not included under the Insurance (Vehicle) Act and ICB does not have to insure them.
Defending tickets for no insurance in court
ICBC not offering insurance for e-bikes has not stopped police from issuing tickets for not having insurance.
According to this news story, an e-bike owner was issued a ticket for failing to insure his vehicle. Evan Laine had recently bought the machine and had not installed the pedals.
Mr. Laine took the ticket to Court where it was dismissed. The provincial court judicial justice ruled Mr. Laine’s e-bike was a motor-assisted cycle. He could, therefore, not uphold the penalty for not having insurance when no insurance for the vehicle exists.
What to do if you get a ticket for not having insurance
The law is clear. If you have a motor-assisted cycle you do not need a licence or insurance. For this reason, any ticket issued for not having insurance is invalid. The trouble occurs in being able to prove that your vehicle meets the requirements of the legislation that defines motor-assisted cycles.
E-bikes are an eco-friendly way to get around and you should not have to fear a financial penalty every time you take your e-bike on the road.
If you get a ticket for operating a vehicle without insurance while riding an e-bike, you should consider challenging it in court. Acumen Law Corporation’s lawyers deal with ICBC and driving-related matters. Call us on 604-685-8889 for a free consultation.