What Does Bicycle Insurance Cover?

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With cycle use on the rise and the ever-increasing value of bikes, it’s no surprise that bike thefts are rising too. That’s one reason why getting some form of bicycle insurance makes sense. Insurance can also come in handy for claims involve cyclists who have been involved in accidents. This may be with other road users, or even in collision with pedestrians.

Nothing is for sure where such collisions are concerned: a recent case saw a cyclist charged with dangerous riding and ordered to pay compensation to a pedestrian who was on her phone. The cyclist was in the right, passing a green light!

Some cycling stats are striking: in the UK, around 300,000 bikes are stolen every year, while over 18,000 cyclists were killed or injured in 2016. All this considered, if you’re a regular rider, some form of cycle cover is a must.

Should I go all in with Cycle Insurance, or get partial cover?

First things first: it’s essential to consider whether you want cover for your bike, yourself or both.

Cover for your bicycle: If you’re looking at your bicycle only, insurance should cover the likes of damage, whether that’s accidental or deliberate, theft, and the cost of hiring another bike while your own is being fixed. It’s always important to check all the fine print of the insurance policy you’re considering: for example, some will cover replacing your old bike with a new one, while with others there may be deductions based on the age and condition of your old cycle.

What types of cover can you get with bicycle insurance?
TheftCover for theft up to a set limit (you can select an amount that reflects the value of your bike); may also include cover for accessories like luggage carriers, panniers, cycle computers
Malicious or accidental damageCover for the cost of repairs if your bike is damaged (e.g., in an accident or due to vandalism)
Bicycle hireCover for the cost to hire a replacement bike to use while yours is being repaired or replaced due to a valid claim
Breakdown coverMay include on the road assistance to fix a puncture or other breakdown and/or transport home for you and your bike

Cover for you, the rider: A robust bicycle insurance policy will include injuries incurred in personal accidents, third party liability in the case of a crash involving others (that’s people and other vehicles), and any legal expenses that might arise from an incident while out on your bike.

If it’s only the bike you’re worried about, and you’re primarily worried about theft from the home, it might be that your household insurer can come through for you—otherwise you’ll likely need specialist bicycle insurance.

Will my Home Insurance cover my bicycle?

You may have heard that home contents insurance sometimes covers bicycles. This may be true depending on the policy—but beware that coverage is often limited to vandalism and theft from the home (that is, when the bike is inside your locked home or a locked garage) and may increase your premium, especially if your bicycle is valuable.

So, while home contents insurance policies may cover your bike against theft at home, it’s essential to check whether such cover exists, and just how strong it is. It is also worth contacting your insurance provider as you might need to declare the bike for it to be covered.

Bicycle claims not covered by Home Insurance

Once your bike has left your home (e.g., locked up outside your local shop), it is unlikely you will be automatically covered by a home insurance policy for theft. While your household insurer might be able to provide cover away from home—it will cost an extra fee, of course.

When it comes to household insurance, it’s highly unlikely that a personal accident while riding is going to be covered, especially if you are participating in a public event—whether that’s a sportive or a charity ride.

Liability is a crucial consideration when working out whether you’re going to be adequately covered in the case of something going wrong. If your home contents insurance doesn’t cover this (and in all probability it won’t), then membership of a club like British Cycling or Cycling UK does offer liability cover as standard.

Even then, it may be the case that your cycle use is such that you’re going to need something more specialised and comprehensive.

Time to seek Specialist Bicycle Insurance?

If you want more comprehensive cover for your bike or cover for yourself and others, and especially if your cycle use is regular and intensive, specialist cycle insurance may well be the way forward. The case of the rider mentioned earlier, who had to pay out to a pedestrian after an incident occurred while following the rules of the road, definitely provides food for thought here.

Specialist bicycle insurance goes above and beyond the bike itself, which is the domain of household insurers, to focus much more on covering the personal risks of cycling. The good news is that whether your bike is built for roads or mountains, or if it’s electric or folding or even chainless, there are suitable cycle-specific insurance policies out there. But what exactly do you get for your premium? Well, that depends.

Cycle insurance: exceptions, premiums, and limits

As well as what is covered in a bicycle insurance policy, it’s also absolutely crucial to consider what isn’t included. In most cases, standard policies are unlikely to cover you if you’re taking part in races or time trials or taking your bike abroad—so if you’re a true cycling pro or a committed continental tripper, you’re probably going to need to take up some extra cover options.

Premium policies offer benefits above and beyond the as-standard theft and damage cover of your more basic packages, including cover for accidents during cycle races, lost fees in the case of not being able to compete in competitions, and public liability. Other possible extras include covering more equipment than just your bike. This can incorporate a broader range of cycling accessories such as tyres, luggage carriers, panniers, cycle computers and even breakdown cover to get you and your bike home from wherever you are.

Some situations and circumstances invalidate any cover. These are often peculiar to each insurer, and so you must read the exceptions carefully. You can’t merely top up your premiums to include extras in the policy. For example, accidents incurred while under the influence of intoxicants are a big no-no. It is also important to be clear about who owns the bike and what it’s being used for. If you can’t prove it’s yours, that might stop a pay-out, and if you use the bike as a direct part of your work, for example as a bicycle courier, this is not the type of use that will be covered by a conventional cycle insurance policy. You’re also not going to be covered for accessories (again, including tyres) that are damaged while the bike as a whole is not, or cosmetic damage like scratches to paintwork.

Some Common Bicycle Insurance Exclusions

  • Races
  • Time trials
  • Taking your bike abroad
  • Damage to tyres
  • Cosmetic damage (e.g., scratches)
  • Theft if you hadn’t secured it properly
  • Accidents while under the influence
  • Wear and tear

A lot of this may sound like common sense, but it’s all worth spelling out. The rule of thumb is, if a part will generally suffer wear and tear, it is not covered. Only in the case of an unexpected event, like vandalism, theft or an accident, will those extras be covered by your insurance.

Get your cover locked down

Worth bearing in mind is the fact that no theft is insured against if you don’t secure your bike well. Most policies require you to use locks that have the Sold Secure seal of approval, which ensures products have been robustly tested—and there are different ratings depending on how much your bike is worth: Bronze for £1,000 or below, Silver if it’s worth between £1,000-2,000 and Gold for those extra special bikes valued at over £2,000.

The amount of time you leave your bike locked up also affects the validity of a claim. It may not be possible to receive a pay-out, if, for example, your bike is left for longer than 12 or 24 hours in a public place such as a station or public cycle rail, and this can also apply to a bike left at work if the security isn’t considered adequate. Time limits shouldn’t apply, however, to bikes locked in your garage or at home covered as part of home insurance.

Be sure when you insure

The terms—and cost—of your policy will more likely hinge on the value of the bike or bikes you’re protecting and what you’ll be using them for rather than what type of bike they are. All leading price comparison sites cater for those shopping around for the right cycle insurance policy, and there are a few specialists set up for compiling the details of products designed for cyclists. But while it’s tempting to quickly opt for the cheapest at the top of the list, that might not be the best plan in the long term.

Making sure you’re fully covered for all the elements that are important to you and your cycling when taking on a bike insurance policy. With that in mind, there are some companies out there whose sole purpose is insuring cyclists, such as Velosure and Cycleplan. It could be well worth exploring what’s on offer from those who know the most about cyclists’ needs.

There is certainly plenty to consider when considering the level of cover your kind of cycling demands. It bears repeating once more that the main thing to remember when choosing a bicycle insurance policy is always read all the detail in the policy documents. It may take a little more time than making an immediate gut call, but it’s time worth spending to make sure you’re not short of the peace of mind you need, and of course insurance cover, when you need it the most.

NimbleFins Editorial Team

Our team of writers has expertise in personal finance, travel, cars and pets.

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