Cycling has grown hugely in popularity over the last few years with the rise of British sporting stars such as Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish helping to increase its appeal.
Using a bike makes sense for many reasons, not least because it improves fitness and cuts transport costs; more people than ever are cycling to work and groups of lycra-clad bike enthusiasts can be seen from Land’s End to John O’Groats. However, along with cycling’s rise in popularity has come an increase in accidents as well as bicycle theft. The trauma of being knocked off a bike and needing hospital treatment is bad enough, but with an estimated 500,000 bikes being stolen last year there can also be a major financial cost to choosing pedal power.
Why add bicycles onto Home Insurance?
Given the statistics, it’s surprising that very few cyclists are covered for bicycle theft and injury to themselves or others. The main problem is that many people assume they’re covered by their home contents insurance. They think that if their bike is stolen it won’t matter as they’ll be able to simply buy a new version from their insurer. However, as bicycles are relatively easy to steal, or damage beyond repair, insurers often make a special case for our two-wheeled friends.
Low standard policy claim limits for bikes
Most policies only cover bikes up to a relatively small maximum claim limit, often as little as £300. This can be lower than the single item claim limit applied to the majority of the cover. As a decent commuter bike will set you back around £500, and better bikes £1,000, and much, much more, there are plenty people cycling around who don’t realise that what they’re sitting isn’t properly insured. And many policies exclude bicycles completely, especially if they’re stolen away from the home; so if yours was stolen from outside a shop you wouldn’t be able to claim a penny.
Five reasons bicycle cover is a good idea
Making sure you have cover for your bike is a good idea for the following reasons:
- Expensive to replace – Many people now spend thousands when buying a bike as it’s something they’ll use every day and want to ensure is a well-built and, crucially, safe.
- Easily stolen – A good lock is vital for bike security, but even then it’s no guarantee. Gangs of bike thieves often use serious cutting equipment which will cut through just about any lock.
- Away–from–home cover – Often only the more expensive home insurance policies include what’s known as ‘away-from-home’ cover as standard. But it can usually be added to a policy for a relatively small sum, ensuring your bike is covered wherever it is.
- Personal injury – Cycling isn’t particularly dangerous, but the injuries that can result from accidents can be very bad. Personal injury is often included in bike cover and means you’ll get the best, and quickest, treatment and after-care if the worst were to happen.
- Personal liability – Damaging someone’s car could cost you dearly if you’re not insured. Likewise, injuring someone could lead to you being taken to court and facing considerable legal costs.
How to make sure your bike is covered
Call up your insurer, or check your policy wording to find out what, if any, cover you may have for your bike. If you haven’t yet taken out your home insurance, ask if it’s included. Even if your bike is covered on your existing home cover, what you can claim for it might not be enough as limits on bikes are often as little as a few hundred pounds. Many insurers will add bicycle cover to an existing policy for a relatively small sum. This could be anywhere between £20 and £120 a year for cover; the premium will largely depend upon the value of the bike, the level of insurance you require, and if you want away-from-home cover too (which is generally a good idea where bikes are concerned). If your bike is particularly valuable, perhaps worth over £1,500, you might need to get specialist cover separate to your existing home insurance. Cover can usually be arranged immediately by just picking up the phone to your insurer or insurance broker.
Cost of the bike and your cover needs
Crucial to the level of cover you need, and whether your insurer will provide it, is the value of the bike. Remember that this should be based on having to buy a brand new version of the bike, not its second hand value as most insurance policies provide cover on what’s known as a ‘new for old’ basis. So your bike might have cost £500 10 years ago, but it could cost £700 to buy the latest equivalent at today’s prices. Here are a number of points worth bearing in mind:
- How much does the bike have to be worth to cover? – As many home insurance policies make a special case for bicycles and may only cover them for as little as £300. Most bikes would cost more than that to buy new, so check your policy claim limits with your insurer.
- Children’s bikes – Kids bicycles are usually included under normal contents cover (again, if you want these to be included when they’re being used away from your home you’ll need to ensure you have ‘away-from-home’ cover)
- Check claim limits – Bikes can get special treatment from insurers as they’re so commonly stolen or damaged. For this reason the claim limits for bikes can be much lower than for the rest of your home insurance. Either way, if the value of the bike exceeds the single item claim limit, or the aggregate total claim limit, then you need extra cover.
Extras, such as lights and mudguards?
You generally pay more if you want the sort of extras people have on bikes included in your cover. Items such as lights, GPS systems, mudguards, dynamos and special seats can be added, usually for a small additional cost.
Does it matter where the bike is kept and how it’s maintained?
The simple answer is yes it does matter where you keep your bike and how you maintain it. Insurers expect you to take reasonable precautions to prevent your bike from being stolen or damaged. So if you leave it locked in a public place, but not to a fixed point such as a bike rack or lamppost, don’t expect to be able to make a claim. Additionally, if you don’t maintain your bike well, such as getting it serviced annually, an insurer could refuse a claim if it collapses underneath you and is damaged beyond repair. The rules for key areas where bikes are generally kept include:
- Sheds – If you keep your bike in a shed, as many people do, you need to check locks and security. For you to make a successful claim there would need to be signs of forced entry.
- Garage – It’s similar for garages. The garage needs to be lockable (and kept locked) for you to be able to claim if a bike is stolen from it.
- Public places – You’re expected to take reasonable measures to secure a bike in public places, locking it to a fixed point such as a bike rack or metal railings.
- Shared hallways – The same rules apply as for public places; the bike needs to be ‘secured’.
- Crime reference – Although the chances of getting a stolen bike back are slim, you still need to report a theft to the police so you can get a crime reference number, otherwise your claim could be rejected.
Exclusions to watch out for
You’ll find there are exclusions with all types of insurance, and bicycle cover is no different. Generally speaking, the lower the level of cover, and cheaper the policy, the greater the number of exclusions there are. A number of the most common exclusions for bicycle insurance include:
- Lost – If you simply lose your bike, you would need proof of purchase and/or ownership. Pictures are useful, as is a valuation or service record.
- Get a code stamp on your bike – Your local bike dealership should be able to do this for you, or the police. DIY kits are also available.
- Other people using your bike – Don’t think that once you’ve sorted out cover for your bike it means anyone can use it. You would need to get the individual, or individuals, named on the policy, and this could cost extra.
- Lights, mudguards, gadgets etc. – The sort of items people add to their bikes, such as lights and mudguards, and forms of customisation, aren’t usually automatically covered and you’ll probably need to pay extra.
- Crime reference number for theft – As stated above, without a crime reference number from the police any claim you make for bike theft may be rejected.