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Buyer’s guide: cycling insurance

Why should you insure your bike and which policy is best suited to you?

Let’s face it, for many cyclists, the bike is their pride and joy; a cherished possession. You may even see it more than some members of your family.

But is it insured? If you’ve invested serious cash – sometimes thousands of pounds – into your machine, then it makes sense to ensure it’s covered against damage and theft.  It’s why there’s now plenty of choice when it comes to cycling-specific insurance policies, many of which will also cover you in the event of an accident.

Many people, however, are happy to stick with the coverage provided by their home insurance provider – but is that the best way to do things?

Your bike is your pride and joy – but are you covered in case the worst should happen?

We asked Ryan Georgiades of Yellow Jersey Cycle Insurance to break down the world of bike insurance for us.

What type of coverage should you be looking for? When and where should you get it? And what type of policy suits your riding best?

Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know about insurance for cyclists.

How to choose the right cycling insurance policy

The most obvious place to start is by asking what sort of policy should you be looking for? Can you just add your bike to your home insurance, and what are the benefits of specific bike insurance if not?

First you need to consider what bike(s) you have, and how often you ride it. While Yellow Jersey offer bike-specific insurance, Georgiades accepts it is not always going to be the best use of your money.

“As a cycling enthusiast you will appreciate that there is a huge difference in the quality and design of the cheapest bike on the market and the one you ride,” he explains. “Equal consideration should be given to protecting your bicycles with cycle cover that meets your needs.

“If you don’t ride many miles, don’t compete, don’t travel and have a cheap and cheerful bicycle, which lives safely indoors then often cycle cover on your home insurance is enough.”

But what are the pitfalls of cycle cover on your home insurance? And why should you consider a cycling-specific policy? Georgiades says the devil is in the detail.

“In many cases, home insurance providers will decline to provide cycle cover for higher value bikes but if cover is offered they often have a high excess, in some instances 20% of the bikes value,” he says.

He adds: “While on the surface insuring your bike on a home insurance might seem like a cheap option it can be a false economy which ends up costing you at a later date.

“If you make a claim, your home insurer will bump up the price of your cover the following year. Making any form of claim will usually raise the cost of your home insurance by around 10 to 15 per cent.

“On top of that, if you benefit from a no claims bonus, this will further influence what you have to pay the following year. For example, if you benefit from a 50% no claims bonus in year one, following a claim, your premium will increase by 100% at the next renewal.”

The level of cover you need – if you need it at all – is often determined by what your bike and how often you ride

How to check if your home insurance policy is adequate

Georgiades offers a list of the common mistakes and assumptions people make when relying on their home insurance to provide adequate cycle coverage.

– Is your bike covered?

First, and most obviously, you need to check explicitly if your bike is even covered; it is often covered under personal belongings, and therefore – as it’s not a standard feature – you may need to ensure you’ve included it in the policy.

What about away from the home?

Home insurance also does not automatically cover you when you are away from home, and even when it does you have to check the detail carefully.

“Even if you insure items away from the home, be sure the home insurance cycle cover includes ‘while in use’ (i.e. while you’re riding your bike) as some do not, especially if you are taking part in an event,” Georgiades warns.

“[Also] be sure to check what your insurer regards as an event: even sportives, which are obviously not races, are often excluded from cover. Most home insurers will exclude theft cover from a race transition and crash damage whilst taking part in an event.

“Furthermore, home insurance may include third party liability but only in relation to claims inside your home. If you accidentally hit someone with your bike you’re not necessarily covered.”

Cycle cover on your home insurance doesn’t necessarily protect you away from the house (Pic: Human Race)

 

Georgiades says you also need to check your home insurance policy in regard to travelling, and even where to store the bike overnight.

“When travelling, check you are covered for theft or accidental damage in an aircraft hold. Even some policies marketed as being designed for cyclists exclude this.

“Finally, check if your bike is covered for theft from a car and if this covers bike when left overnight. Almost all home insurance policies require personal belongings left in a car overnight to been in the glove box or in a locked boot and in any case always out of sight.”

Good luck trying to squeeze your pride and joy into the glove compartment!

Is your bike covered when you travel to a sportive or race? (Pic: Media 24)

– What happens when you claim?

It’s also important to check what happens if – and, of course, we all hope we never have to – you need to claim on your insurance, and that includes replacement bikes.

If you’ve invested in an all-singing, all-dancing new Trek, for example, you won’t want a second-hand bike in return – but that might be what you get.

“Without dedicated cycle cover there is no guarantee a home insurance supplier will pay you fuss free,” Georgiades explains.

“If they didn’t accept your risk, knowing up front you were taking the policy primarily to insure your bikes, they may not be as flexible or understand your needs.

“Where policy wordings are ambiguous it is down to the insurer’s discretion as to how they handle a claim.

“Always check what new for old cover you get. Some home insurers will only insure the cost of replacing your bike with a new one within the first year of manufacturer, rather than unlimited new for old, meaning after year one you will only get the equivalent second-hand value.

“Also, home insurers may not provide like-for-like replacements and in many cases they will use a large wholesalers to manage their claims. For example, if you ride a Trek their approved wholesaler may only offer you a Cannondale as a replacement.”

What are the benefits of bike insurance?

So, if cycle cover on home insurance isn’t always the answer, then what about bike insurance? Yellow Jersey aim to simplify their cycling insurance policies.

“You can insure single cycles up to £15,000, which are covered for theft and accidental damage as standard,” Georgiades says of their policies.

“Most insurance comes with theft and accidental damage, but the devil is in the detail. We have removed many of the restrictive clauses you might find in a home insurance policy and from other standalone pedal cycle insurance providers.”

Yellow Jersey also offer a 60 per cent multi-bike discount as standard – ideal if you have multiple road bikes, or also want to cover mountain or cyclo-cross bikes. They also offer international cover and family cover as standard.

Specific bike insurance should also cover you when your bike is in transit (Pic: Colin Dennis

 

Short-term cover or annual cover?

Georgiades says Yellow Jersey are unique in offering the option of a short-term policy, which can prove more cost effective if you only plan on riding at certain times of year, or require more comprehensive coverage for short periods.

“Launching a short-term policy was a direct response to what consumers were requesting,” he says.

“Customers were doing short trips abroad of up to five days for specific races and they wanted to cover what they perceived as a higher risk.

Got a trip planned? Yellow Jersey offer short-term insurance policies too, which may be more cost-effective than taking out an annual policy (Pic: TBT)

“We also cover hire bikes, so if you are travelling to Mallorca, for example, and don’t want to take your own bike, you can hire a bike and buy our insurance for five, ten, 17 or 31 days.

“Is it better to buy annual? Well if you are doing several races and travelling once or twice a year then an annual policy is much more cost effective.

“Also our annual insurance has a DNA+ kit and Race Fee Cancellation cover which is excluded from the short-term policy.”

How about event and race coverage?

Talking of race fees, taking out specific bike insurance ensures you need not worry about insurance for races and events, as long as it’s covered by your policy.

Georgiades says many people fall into the trap of assuming an event organiser’s policy will cover them, but this is often not the case – or not to the extent that may be needed.

“Cover during a race is very limited,” he says. “The organiser will have insurance to cover damage you might cause to a spectator or third party property but they are not covering you or fellow participants’ injuries.

Pinning on a race number does not mean you are covered by the race organisation (Pic: Roz Jones)

“If you think your British Cycling membership might cover the gap when racing then this excludes claims against other BC members which, let’s face it, in a race is everyone else.

“There’s also a common misconception that the relevant governing body automatically provides cover for equipment – it doesn’t.

“Bicycle specific insurance bridges all the gaps, it covers the accidental damage caused by a crash and damage you do to anyone else. Yellow Jersey’s annual policy even covers race fees if you get injured leading up to a big A race.”

What about travel insurance?

The same concept applies to travel insurance, which – like home insurance – may prove to be restrictive when it comes to claiming.

Yellow Jersey offer specific travel insurance policies for cyclists, meaning you are covered for cycling trips abroad – be it sportives, training camps or a cycling holiday.

“Buying travel insurance for cycling and triathlon has always been needlessly complicated,” Georgiades explains. But do you need a specific policy? Georgiades breaks down the key checks into five main points.

– Does your travel insurance cover holidays where the primary purpose is cycling?

“Many travel insurers will cover cycling if it’s an incidental part of your holiday, i.e. you hired a bike for a day with your family, but not if the primary purpose of the trip is cycling,” Georgiades says.

Does your travel insurance cover you in a timed event?

“There seems to be no agreement on how to classify different types of cycling events, with policies including major exclusions buried deep in their policy wording, or excluding cycling all together,” Georgiades explains. And that doesn’t just mean for races…

– How is a sportive classified?

“Many insurers will deem [sportive] as a race and exclude cover,” Georgiades adds. “And if racing is included in your policy, are there maximum distances or durations? Many policies will include a triathlon but exclude an ironman, for example.”

 – Do you have an EHIC card?

Ok, so this one is a much simpler check. Many people won’t go away without a European Health Insurance Card – and for good reason: no card can mean no payout in some instances.

Cycling-specific travel insurance ensures you are covered no matter what riding you plan to do overseas (Pic: Campagnolo)

“Also bear in mind EHIC protection is only valid if you get taken to a state hospital in Europe,” Georgiades adds as a word of a caution.

“Most mountain resorts only have private hospitals while state hospitals are few and far between in most of Spain and Portugal.”

 – How does the insurance provider split up the different cycling disciplines?

You many find the type of cycling you intend on doing is not covered, even if the policy includes cycling coverage. Georgiades points out that some providers will cover touring but steer clear of mountain biking.

Travel insurance vs specific cycling travel insurance

Georgiades compares the coverage required for a cycling holidays with that you would look for when heading out to for a winter sports trip. For example, a skiing holiday – given the risks that entails – needs to be covered explicitly, but holiday goers are by and large aware of the extra coverage required. For a cycling trip, however, this is often not the case.

“We know insurance isn’t going to pay for skiing injuries unless it has been made clear to us in advance that it will,” Georgiades points out.

“We aren’t going to pick up a last-minute travel insurance policy unless we know for certain it includes winter sports, and so travel insurance companies make that part of their marketing. But despite the steady rise in cycling and triathlon, we haven’t seen similar for cyclists.”

You may be covered for cycling abroad, but that doesn’t necessarily include sportives or other timed events (Pic: ASO)

That said, if you check you are covered for the type of cycling you are planning, Georgiades accepts specific cycling insurance may not be necessary.

“The advice is not to assume that your travel insurance is automatically covering you,” he says. “It is important to double check: just because ‘cycling’ is on a list of insured activities, that does not necessarily mean the type of cycling you will be doing is covered.

“Give your insurer a call, tell them what you plan to do with your bike, and ask if you are covered for it. It could save you a fortune, we’ve seen cases of people losing their homes due to the cost of medical bills sustain abroad.

“If you have double checked and have the cover you need, there is no reason to swap [to specific cycling travel insurance]. But if you don’t have the appropriate cover, or if you just can’t face the hassle of finding out, we have a cycle travel insurance product designed to take out the stress.”

Do you need personal insurance?

There is one thing not covered by Yellow Jersey’s insurance policy, and that’s personal insurance to provide financial support in the event of a serious accident or injury.

While some competitors offer it as part of their cycling insurance policy, Georgiades believes good quality insurance provided by an independent financial advisor is a better option, should your life or work circumstances dictate you might need it.

“Typically, our clients are employed and earn in excess of the £200 per week these policies payout,” he says.

“The cover is very restrictive and the amount paid is limited – you have no upfront arrangement as to what is paid, no pre-assessment of your personal circumstances, so unless you fit nicely into the pre-determined box it may not be suitable for your needs.

“In my opinion you normally get what you pay for. We have looked into offering a similar product and conducted qualitative market research with a number of clients and at the moment we have parked this.”

Are you covered in case of accident or injury when riding? (Pic: Sirotti)

Conclusion

If you’re a regular cyclist with a valuable bike, and you are looking to comprehensively cover both you and your machine, be it for riding at home or travelling, then a specific cycle insurance is likely to be your best bet.

While the type of riding you plan to do, the value of your bike, and the policies you already have will dictate what you need, but generic home insurance and travel insurance policies can prove restrictive when it comes to making a claim.

Nobody likes to contemplate having to claim on their insurance, but the best bit of advice is to check the wording of your policy very carefully. What is covered, when is it covered, and what happens if you claim?

Use the advice above to decide whether you need a cycling-specific insurance policy and, if you do, what level of coverage you require to ensure you have the peace of mind that – should the worst happen – you are insured.

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