If your vehicle is hit by a driver renting a scooter in Panama City Beach, you could end up paying to repair the damage out of your own pocket. That's because scooter rental businesses aren't required to carry insurance.
Thursday night, City Council Members moved forward with a plan that would change that and hold businesses more accountable. The Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would require businesses to carry liability insurance.
The proposal would require a 10-20-10 policy for each vehicle, which amounts to the minimum coverage required by the state for automobiles.
City staff said there was no question of whether that amount of coverage was available in the market, but owners said meeting the requirement may not be possible.
"They declined us. I sent you all a decline letter so you see that company has declined us," Rick Roof, of California Cycles, said. "We asked them why, and in response, they said 'just because it's available doesn't mean you qualify.'"
Police Chief Drew Whitman said this year there have been several hundred accidents involving scooters, and this spring break people driving rented scooters damaged five police vehicles, which the city paid to repair.
"I'm sympathetic with the people who run the scooter businesses," Mayor Gayle Oberst said. "I'm also sympathetic with the visitors and the people who live here. If there's an accident, the scooter people should have insurance. Every other vehicle on that road has insurance."
Bay County recently adopted higher insurance requirements. The only rental business in the unincorporated area, California Cycles, is suing the county over its ordinance.
The City Council will decide on a second reading and possible adoption of the ordinance this Summer.