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Commuter bike insurance isn’t compulsory like motor insurance is. You can usually add some essential insurance cover for your bicycle to your home contents policy. Or you can quote and buy online for some specialist cover.
However, it’s worth spending a few minutes to examine if you can live without it.
Bike insurance differs from company to company. Discerning Cyclist is not a financial advisor but we can provide some information to get you thinking.
Types of Cycling Insurance
You can usually obtain insurance cover for your commuter bike, or for you as a commuting rider, or both.
Your insurance policy is a legal contract so both you and your insurer have a responsibility to provide accurate information. The insurer provides a list of definitions and what is covered / excluded up front. You should read these before you buy.
It’s important that you disclose everything up front in order to have any insurance claim settled should you need it in a timely fashion.
Be accurate about the true replacement value of everything as new. Keep all of your receipts. You may need to show them as evidence of ownership.
To get started with commuter bike insurance, think about how likely you are to make an insurance claim. Also think about the impact of not having the insurance on your finances and your time.
Could you easily replace your bike at your own expense? Could you afford to reimburse the owner of an SUV if you accidentally damaged their wing-mirror? Could you defend yourself in a legal dispute over an accident which you did not think was your fault?
Insurance companies use statistics to assess the risk that you present to them. They charge a premium (amount of money) based on your risk compared to an average customer. Of course they cover their costs and usually, a little bit for their profit. If you represent too high a risk to them they can refuse to insure you.
Insurance companies look at predictable and unpredictable events. They are less likely to insure a predictable situation. Slight damage to your frame at a bike locking station is predictable. Theft of your bike when locked twice to an immovable object from an alarmed garage with CCTV is less predictable.
Commuting by bike involves interaction with others. You cannot know you will never have an accident. Or account for how careful other users of the same space are. Wearing a helmet and riding slowly are no guarantee of avoiding injury unfortunately.
If you are involved in an accident, you can be covered by an insurance company, up to a limit, for personal accident, physiotherapy, dental treatment and even permanent injury. You will only be covered for the most severe (less predictable) events, like losing a limb, or losing the sight in one eye as a result of the accident.
You may have an accident which damages the property of another person or injures them. If it is your fault you’ll be liable to reimburse them. So, if you had a collision with another commuter and their £300 suit and £100 holdall are irreversibly damaged by their fall you could be insured against the cost of getting the bill for replacing these items.
Now imagine if you felt that the same accident with another commuter was not your fault, and the incident damages your bike and you get a £400 bill from your mechanic. But the other commuter does not accept the blame.
However, a shop owner looking out of their window is prepared to say that they saw the incident and felt it was not your fault. Your cyclist insurance can cover the cost of hiring a solicitor to defend you in the event of a legal claim to assess who is liable.
There are other losses you may incur as a result of an accident that you might be able to recover via your insurance policy. If you are forced to have unpaid time off work as a result of the accident, your insurer can pursue the other person (usually via their insurer) for the cost of your loss of earnings.
Your commuting bike can be covered against accidental damage under certain circumstances defined in your policy. Using predictability as a calculating factor, you are less likely to be covered for minor damage like one or two scratches but if you have a fall which ruins your wheels, brakes and gears while commuting this should be covered.
Theft will be the main consideration, or risk factor, for you and the insurer. There will be more theft statistics for the insurer to use when calculating a premium than other factors. And you may also have had experience with theft or know someone who has.
You should have considered having to replace the bike yourself in the absence of insurance. Electric bikes are becoming more and more popular amongst commuters. Insurance companies will cover these, subject to some terms and conditions, usually involving the size of the motor.
They are more expensive than ‘analogue bikes’ and could be considered more attractive to thieves and therefore attract an additional premium to insure.
You’ll have to give insurers your home postcode. You’ll usually be required to comply with some minimum conditions for them to pay a theft claim. This will usually be a minimum type of lock and also an overnight parking location. You are also likely to be required to lock it during any period it is unattended during the day.
If you think you can leave your bike leaning unlocked against a coffee shop window where you can see it all the time and have a claim paid if it is stolen, you will be disappointed.
Insurers need the reassurance that you will do all that you can to prevent a claim from occurring. They usually make this part of the contract. Some of their minimum requirements involve buying a higher quality lock that has been tested to a standard. If you go the extra mile by investing in a GPS system, you could contact them to see if they’ll give a discount.
The more specialist commuter bike insurance companies will provide cover against loss or damage to accessories like pannier bags, lights, clothing and helmets. You can get cover for these in the home and away from the home in some circumstances.
However, predictable events like scratches to a helmet or wear and tear to a pannier bag will not be covered. And there is usually a low limit to how much will be paid in total – something like £250.
Commuter Bike Insurance
Specialist bike insurance tends to come in tiers. You can therefore buy insurance to cover certain sporting events, for riding abroad and for insuring more than one bike on one policy. You pay more as you need more cover and certainly as the value of the bike increases. Most commuter policies operate at the essential level.
It’s vital to know that even though their online quote and buy process is really quick and easy, your commuter bike insurer has a duty to put all of their terms and conditions, including the meaning of all the defined words in the policy up front – before you buy.
They’ll put their claims testimonials online and it should be no problem for you to find independent reviews of their work. Have a look at their opening hours and make sure that works around your availability. Check that they are certified and accredited by your country’s insurance regulator.
How Much is Bicycle Insurance?
We ran a 2023 commuter bike valued at £525 through some quote engines and asked for £250 of accessories for locks, helmets and lights to be covered along with some cover for the cyclist – the liability and personal accident cover. We declared no previous claims and a major city centre postcode (not London).
A small specialist bike insurer asked for £105.06 for a year of cover and a massive general insurer with a specialist bike policy asked for £81.60. Premiums are subject to change at any time.
Both of these companies required an approved lock which would cost not less than £50. I would also be required to lock it under specific requirements in order for a claim to be paid. If I had the bike and all accessories stolen from my address, I would receive £725 in a claim as I would have a £50 excess to pay up front.
The excess is the name for an amount the insurer deducts from the first part of the claim. Its main function is to discourage small claims. If you damaged a £25 light then you would not be able to claim, for example. Insurers trust that the average person does not want or need to make small claims.