I’m seeing more and more photos of stolen bikes being retweeted on Twitter.
Partly this is due to an increase in the use of social media to track down missing bikes, but it reflects a genuine increase in bicycles being stolen.
According to analysis from UCL, cycle theft is increasing (this is based on victim survey data; police statistics suggest the level remains static).
Bike security used to be about find somewhere safe to park your steed, then using two locks to put off would-be bike-snatchers. Increasingly it seems that thieves are stealing bikes from owner’s garages and sheds – bikes worth thousands of pounds, which their owners would never dream of leaving chained to a rusty lamp-post.
The UK police even believe that dirty snafflers are using Strava and other route-mapping apps to identify target addresses (tip: make sure you have ‘privacy’ switched on, in order to hide your start/finish point).
In this post I look at one way a bike owner can protect himself from (financial) pain, should an acrobatic cat-burglar gain access to his Fort Know-style bike cave: bicycle insurance.
(For the more aggressive amongst you, next week I will look at how you can convert an innocent looking bicycle pump into a 50,000 volt taser.)
What is bicycle insurance?
As the name suggests, it’s an insurance policy that covers various potential misfortunes that could occur to you as a bike owner. If something happens that is covered by the policy, you get paid a lump of cash.
What does it cover?
The misfortune that immediately springs to mind (particularly since I assume you read the beginning of this post) is bike theft. Most policies provide cover for this.
However, the risk with the greater potential for loss to you, the cyclist, is not theft. There your loss is limited to the value of the bike.
Your liability if you damage a person or their property whilst riding your bike could work out to be multiple times that of the cost of replacing your top-of-the range Pinarello with all the trimmings. Repairs to cars don’t tend to be cheap, nor do claims for medical damages.
Cycle insurance policies can also provide cover for:
- Accidental damage to the bike
- Theft or damage of cycle accessories
- Race fees
What I didn’t know, until I started doing a little research for this post, was that some cycle insurance policies include ‘roadside assistance’. Apparently the days of calling your
mum wife to pick you up after one too many punctures are gone. Instead, if your bike cannot be ridden due to an accident, vandalism or unfixable breakdown, you get taken to a bike shop or wherever else the policy specifies (e.g. train station, your home).
Who are the main bicycle insurance providers?
In the UK, bike-specific insurance policies are sold by companies such as Cycleplan, Cyclosure, Velosure, Endsleigh, Cycleguard and ETA.
You may well recognise Endsleigh as a large insurance firm. The ones with more ‘bikey’ names may be less familiar. However, these tend to be trading names for more established underwriting/insurance brokerage firms, so should hopefully still be in business when you need to make a claim!
It’s worth pointing out that membership of organisations such as British Cycling or CTC can provide a certain amount of insurance cover. This is primarily in the form of third party liability insurance, but both BC and CTC (claim to) offer discounted theft and other types of cycle insurance as well.
How much does it cost?
As with most questions on the cost of insurance, the answer is, “it depends”. It depends on what sort of insurance you’re taking out and, if you are insuring against theft or accidental damage, the value of the bike(s) being insured.
For the general bike insurance policies (i.e. those covering theft, vandalism, personal accident etc), premia seem to start at around £20-35 per year but soon ramp up with the value of the bike. As you head north of £5k, you’re talking about £500+ by way of annual premium.
If it’s just the third party cover you’re after (i.e. to insure your liability against damaging something/someone else), then adult membership of CTC is (currently) £41 per year, with discounts for students, ‘seniors’ and the unwaged. British Cycling’s ‘Ride Membership’ is £28 per year. Membership of either organisation offers other benefits besides insurance and legal advice.
Do I need it?
Do we detect another ‘it depends’ coming? Yes we do…
In today’s increasingly litigious times, where a car sideswipes you and the driver then claims damages for the pyschological harm you have caused by being the recipient of his front wing, third party insurance is starting to look like more of a necessity than a luxury. Good news then that it can be arranged cheaply simply by joining one of the cycling organisations that you should be a member of anyway.
But for the theft side of things, it comes down to what you can afford to lose (or rather, whether you can bare the cost of replacing). If replacing a top of the range carbon road bike, with all-new electronic gearshifters, is going to put you into penury, then you would probably appreciate the peace of mind of having insurance in place.
That said, if you’re the owner of a £5k+ bike (or a few valuable bikes), you’re unlikely to be leaving it (them) locked to a lamppost whilst you’re in the pub. You could build an undergound bike dungeon in your back garden for a single year’s £500 premium (I’m guessing… I know little about building). Instead of paying insurance premia, you could install protection so secure, even Tom Cruise couldn’t get in (note to lawyers: this a reference to Mission Impossible).
Insurance probably makes the most sense for someone with a reasonably nice bike, who uses it for commuting or being generally ‘out and about’. If you’re not going to parking the bike somewhere safe and secure, then insurance could well be a worthwhile investment should disaster strike.
That’s a wrap
I hope you found this introduction to bicycle insurance helpful.
If you did, and you’d like to know how much insurance for your trusty two-wheeled steed will cost, then Cycleplan provides this handy widget below. Just enter the value of your bike and it will kick out the premium you’ll pay:
(If you then go ahead and take out a policy, I’ll get a commission. You pay the same price.)