What is bicycle insurance?

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If you cycle regularly, getting the right insurance is vital to keep you and your bike protected. Here is everything you need to know about bike insurance.

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Woman on an electric bike in the countryside

The number of people saddling up has risen in recent times. This is due to several reasons, not least of which are changing life and work habits due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as growing concerns about climate change and the need to cut back on driving petrol or diesel cars.

As a result, more people are taking an interest in bikes and how best to protect them, which is where bicycle insurance comes in.

How does bicycle insurance work?

Standalone bicycle insurance covers the cost of replacing or repairing your bike if it is stolen or damaged.

It can also protect you financially if you are injured while riding, or if you cause an accident that involves another person.

Your bike could well be covered against theft and vandalism by your home contents policy, from £250 to up to around £2,500 as standard. But this cover may not protect you when you ride your bike, or when you lock your bike up away from your home, or if you race at events. 

Also, the amount a home insurer will payout will be capped, and this level could be far lower than the cost of a like-for-like replacement. Likewise, if you have a cheaper cycle, the excess on contents insurance may be higher than the value of your bike.

Here is how to work out whether you need bike insurance

What types of bikes can you cover?

Most insurers can cover a wide range of bike types, including:

  • Mountain bikes

  • Electric bikes

  • Road bikes

  • Folding bikes

  • Chainless bikes

There’s no shortage of specialist bicycle insurers around, or contents insurance policies that’ll cover your bike, so shop around. When you do, check the terms and conditions to ensure you get the right level and type of cover. Don’t just look at the cost, as it’s next to useless to pay out for a policy that won’t protect your bike or pay enough to warrant the premium

What does bicycle insurance cover?

Bicycle insurance can cover your bike, fixed accessories, such as carry bag frames or lights, yourself, or all three.

Cover for your bike

Bicycle insurance can protect your bike against:

  • Theft: This covers your bike up to a set amount to replace it if it is stolen. It can also cover your accessories, bike box or personal possessions.

  • Malicious or accidental damage: This covers the costs of repair or replacement if your bike is damaged or vandalised.

  • Bike hire replacement: This covers the cost of hiring an alternative bike to use while yours is being repaired or replaced.

  • Loss of fixed accessories. Cover typically extends to items that are not designed to be clipped on or removed, such as lights or bag racks.

Many policies offer new for old replacement if you need a new bike, but some may deduct an amount for wear and tear. Check if the policy offers new for old cover before you buy.

Cover for yourself

If you also want protection for yourself if you have an accident, bike insurance can cover you against:

  • Personal accident: This gives you a lump sum payout if you suffer loss of limb, sight, hearing, or become paralysed or die following an accident on your bike.

  • Third-party liability: This covers the cost of any claims against you following an incident that you caused while riding your bike, such as if you collided with a pedestrian.

  • Legal expenses: This covers any costs that you incur taking a third party to court to claim for damages following an accident that was not your fault.

Most insurers offer these benefits as standard and within one policy.

Extra cover options

You may also be able to add extra benefits to your policy to extend your cover, including:

  • Taking your bike abroad

  • Cover for competitions like road races or time trials

  • Extended accessories cover

  • Bicycle breakdown cover

Where these are available as optional extras you’ll pay more for the additional level of protection, so only consider them if you think you need the cover and can afford the increased cost. 

Also, note that some policies, including home contents ones, may include certain extras, such as taking your bike abroad, as standard, so check your home insurance before spending more for a specialist policy’s extras. 

Do you have to pay an excess?

Most bicycle insurance policies set an excess, which is an amount of money you need to contribute to the cost if you make a claim.

You may have to pay an excess of:

  • A percentage of the claim. For example, a 5% excess on a claim worth £1,000 would mean you have to pay £50.

  • A set amount, based on the bike's value. For example, £75 if it is worth less than £1,500, £100 if it is worth between £1,500 and £7,500, and £250 if it is worth over £7,500.

  • A set amount for any claim, for example, £100.

You could be charged a higher excess if your bicycle is stolen from a public area, or if you leave it unattended at a certain time, for example between 1 am and 4 am.

Check the policy documents before you buy cover to see what excess you will need to pay if you make a claim.

What doesn’t bicycle insurance cover?

There are several exclusions that mean your claim could be rejected, including:

  • Any accident that happens while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol

  • Any accident that happens where you were riding recklessly or unlawfully, such as passing through red lights

  • Using your bike for monetary gain, for example as a courier

  • Any loss or damage where you cannot give proof of ownership

  • Damage to accessories including tyres, unless the bike is damaged at the same time

  • Cosmetic damage like scratches or dents that do not impair the bike from working

  • Any theft claim where you have not secured your bike correctly

To make sure your bike is fully protected you must lock it away securely while it is at home, or if you leave it in a public place.

Choose an approved lock

Most insurers have locking requirements you need to follow to keep your bike covered against theft. The locks you use will need to be approved, for example:

  • Sold Secure Bronze rating, if your bike is worth £250 or less

  • Sold Secure Silver rating, if your bike is worth between £251 and £1,500

  • Sold Secure Gold rating, if your bike is worth between £1,501 and £10,000

  • Solid Secure Diamond rating, for very high-value bicycles and e-bikes worth more than £10,000

The lock will also need to be specifically designed for bicycles, scooters or motorcycles. Each insurer has different locking requirements so check their terms and conditions carefully before you buy a policy.

Your bike also needs to be secured to something immovable, like a lamp post or bicycle rack.

What affects the price?

The cost of your cover is determined by things like:

  • The value of your bike

  • What you use your bike for

  • Any previous claims you have made

  • Where you live

  • Any extras you add, for example, accessories cover

The more expensive your bike is, the more you have to pay. However, don’t be tempted to give a lower value of your bike when you apply to get a cheaper deal, because this could invalidate your cover if you make a claim.

Compare bicycle insurance here

How to find the best bicycle insurance

The best insurance for you will ultimately be the combination of features (such as those listed above) that best fit your needs.

Establish your priorities and don't focus on just one aspect, as this may mean you aren't covered elsewhere.

Carry out a bicycle insurance comparison to find the cheapest policy for your circumstances and needs.

Unless your needs are very specialised (such as you compete in cycling events or your bike is high value), chances are the best insurance cover for you will be a general policy that caters for most circumstances to a consistent level.

You should weigh the aspects of these general plans according to how you normally use your bike, to achieve the most effective cover.

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