Anthea Skinner is a freelance writer who lives with not one, but two neurological conditions.
She is currently in the final stages of her PhD at Monash University and plays percussion in the all-disabled indie band, the Bearbrass Asylum Orchestra
As a mobility scooter user I am very aware of how reliant I am on my set of wheels. I have a chronic illness and although I can walk for short distances, I get tired very quickly. Like many people with limited mobility, I rely on a mobility scooter to get out and about. Without it I couldn’t access my university campus, I couldn’t go to the local shopping centre, in short, I’d be stuck at home.
Sadly, mobility scooter theft is on the rise across Australia. Sometimes they are stolen for resale, but often they are just taken for joyrides and vandalised, leaving their owners unable to access their communities.
Mobility scooters provide transport and independence for the elderly, people with limited mobility or a disability. Being larger than electric wheelchairs, they are often left parked and unsecured outside of shops, restaurants and houses, leaving them vulnerable to theft. Fortunately, you can now get insurance specifically for mobility scooters, protecting your property and your independence.
The Rise of Scooter Thefts
In August, two mobility scooters were stolen from an aged care home in Geelong, Victoria. The thieves took the scooters to the local park where they conducted what was described as a “demolition derby”, trashing both vehicles. A youth in Adelaide was recently arrested after the theft of a scooter from a local retirement village while Paula Robinson had her scooter stolen while it was parked outside a friend’s house in Rozelle, NSW. Paula had taken the key out of her scooter, assuming that this would protect it from theft.
Unfortunately, scooter keys do not offer the same protection as car or house keys. Most scooters can be placed into neutral without a key, allowing thieves to simply push them away. That’s why it’s important to always take extra precautions to secure your scooter to protect yourself from opportunistic theft – see some tips on this below.
If your scooter is stolen, Blue Badge Insurance for Mobility Scooters can get you back on the road. They will replace or repair your damaged Mobility Scooter, as well as your accessories or personal property that is stolen, lost or damaged. They even help you find a qualified repairer and pay for repairs directly, so that you won’t have to wait to be reimbursed.^
Accidents Do Happen
NSW MP, Senator John Williams recently called for changes to scooter regulations when his wife required a hip replacement after being hit by a scooter. Mobility scooters share footpaths with pedestrians, and while most scooter users act responsibly, accidents do sometimes happen. Melbourne resident Kath Duncan recently had her scooter destroyed when a hit and run driver struck her while she was crossing at the lights. Police are still searching for the driver.
Blue Badge Insurance’s Mobility Scooter Insurance provides third party injury and property cover, protecting you if you hit and injure someone or damage someone else’s property with your scooter. It can also help out if you are injured driving your scooter, providing a hospital incidentals cash benefit while you recover.^
Protecting Your Asset
Scooters are a valuable asset costing thousands of dollars. While taking out quality insurance will ensure your vehicle is covered against theft, most insurers require that you take reasonable steps to protect your asset.
Here are some simple steps to avoid having your vehicle stolen:
Your scooter will probably spend most of its time parked at your home. It is important that you leave your scooter locked inside the house or in a secure space, away from plain sight. If this isn’t possible, you can install a fixed anchor point and lock to safely secure your scooter. If your parked scooter is visible from the street it is also advisable to conceal it with a cover so that it can’t easily be seen.
In the Street
When you’re out and about, always secure your scooter to a bike rack, railing or lamp post using a quality anti-theft device such as a chain, u-lock, padlock or immobiliser. Blue Badge Insurance has developed the Loop Lock, a high quality anti-theft device designed specifically for mobility equipment. It is strong but lightweight and features a double-sided key, making it easy to use for elderly people and people with a disability.
If possible, always try to park in a place that is clearly visible. Some scooters have a feature allowing owners to lock the steering. If you scooter has this feature, make sure that you always lock it when you park. It’s also important to try not to make your scooter look too tempting to potential thieves. Don’t leave any possessions or valuables on your scooter and always take your key with you.
Blue Badge Insurance Top 7 Tips
- Invest in a quality anti-theft device such as the Loop Lock.
- When at home lock your scooter in a secure space or against an anchor point.
- When out, park your scooter where it is highly visible.
- Secure it to a bike rack, railing or other immovable object.
- Don’t leave valuables or keys in your scooter.
- Lock you steering if your scooter has this feature.
- Get insured!!!
Getting Back on the Road Quickly
No matter how careful you are, sometimes the worst happens. However, a little preparation can help make your life easier if your scooter is stolen. When you first get your scooter, record its brand and serial number and take some photos of your vehicle. You can also mark your scooter with your driver’s licence or proof of age card number. These steps will help the police locate your scooter and prove that it actually belongs to you.
Purchasing an insurance policy for your scooter will also mean that you are not left out of pocket if it cannot be returned. Quality insurance can help to speed up replacement times, especially for people who cannot easily afford the thousands of dollars that it takes to replace a scooter.
If your scooter is stolen, be sure to contact the police as quickly as possible. This will increase their chances of locating it before it is sold on or vandalised. Also, contact your insurer. The sooner that you lodge a claim, the sooner your scooter can be replaced.
Enjoying the Freedom of Mobility
Scooters are a great way to get around for people with limited mobility and I’d be lost without mine. Sadly, they also make tempting targets for thieves and vandals. By following the simple steps in this article you can keep your vehicle safe and ensure many years of happy travelling.
^Terms and Conditions apply. Consider the PDS at www.BlueBadgeInsurance.com.au to decide if the product is right for you. Blue Badge Insurance Australia Pty Ltd ABN 59 162 783 306 (A.R. No. 438547) is an Authorised Representative of Insurance Logic Pty Limited. ABN 44 002 859 252 (AFS Licence No 237633).