Bicycle and Cycling Insurance Guide

Introduction

This is a brief guide to insurance.  It's by no means fully comprehensive (groan..), but hopefully it provides some useful thoughts.  Let me know if I've missed anything.

3rd party liability and legal support

3rd party liablity covers you if you make a mistake, e.g. cause a car crash, cause a crash on a group ride etc.

The legal support part provides you with legal advice and may cover your expenses if you need to claim against a third party, for example if you are knocked off your bike when commuting.

EVERYBODY should have this, getting sued by a driver's insurance company could be financially ruinous.  Equally, knowing what your legal position is if you are knocked off can be invaluable.  British Cycling membership is the cheapest way to get this, unless you have some other sort of cycling insurance, in which case it may already be included.  Membership of the Condors (or any other BC affiliated cycling club) does not cover you for this.  

British Cycling's legal support has proved excellent for numerous club members when they've come a cropper, it is highly recommended.   To get the 3rd party and liability cover you need to join at either Race - Silver level for £40, or Ride lever for £32.  However, if you have never been a BC member before you can get your first year's membership for half price here.

Cover for bikes at home

This covers you for your bikes getting stolen from your property.  Adding your bikes to your home insurance used to be the cheapest way to get this cover, but home insurers have steadily cut the maximum values they are willing to insure bikes for - meaning that if you have a pricey bike your insurer may not be willing to cover it at all.  Every policy is different, so you need to check the wording carefully, particularly what type of locks are needed if you are keeping the bike in a shed or garage (heaven forbid..!).  If you home insurer wont cover the bike, then you may want to investigate one of the specialist bike insurance firms.

One important thing to note is that you may still be obliged to tell your insurer about the bikes, even if you aren't planning to get cover for them through your home insurer.  Otherwise, in the event of a non-bike related claim your home insurer may state you were under insured and reduce or refuse your claim, even if the claim is not bike related.  (That also goes for any other high value items such as antiques, watches and the like too.)

Theft cover away from home

This may seem like something you don't need, but bikes do go missing at sportives of from the backs of cars.  This isn't necessarily included in home insurance, it's worth checking.  There will always be strict rules in your policy about the type of lock you use and what you need to lock the bike to.   Locks typically need a Sold Secure rating that matches up with the value of your bike.

Accidental damage cover

This covers you for damage to your bike if you crash.

Again, you may be able to get accidental damage cover as part of your home insurance and if you can that will probably be the cheapest way.  If not, you are stuck with one of the specialist bike insurers who tend to be fairly pricey.  Annual premiums are typically between 10% and 20% of the value of the bike.

Competition cover

If you race or time trial then you need to make sure your policy covers you for this - not all do.  Many home insurers won't insure bikes that are used for competition, even if you only want them insured for the non-competition usage.

Do you need insurance at all?

This is a good question.  For 3rd party liability the answer is absolutely yes.  £32/year is a tiny price to pay to cover you for being sued by a driver or fellow-rider's insurance company.

Theft and accident cover are less clear cut.  If you can get those as part of your home insurance for not too much extra they are well worth it, but the premiums charged by the specialist insurers are so high that it does beg the question of how likely your bike is to be stolen or damaged.  If that's only going to happen once every 10 years on average, but the premium is 20% of the value of the bike, then it starts to look pretty bad value for money.  This is particularly true for accident cover, where you are unlikely to break every part of your bike and as many manufacturers offer crash replacements at reduced prices to existing (original) owners.

That's a personal decision of course, any insurance is just accepting a regular small payment to mitigate the possibility of a much greater one.  Your decision will probably depend on your attitude to risk and whether you could afford to shell out the cost of a new bike if yours was stolen.

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