Should I take out cycle insurance?

An estimated 85% of cyclists have no insurance cover at all. Most cyclists that do have insurance are covered for bike theft only. They would not be covered if they needed to make or defend a claim.

As the country starts to take cycling more seriously, is now the time to think about cycling insurance?

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Why would a cyclist need insurance?

According to the Road Traffic Act 1960, drivers and motorcyclists must have third party insurance in place to cover the cost of any damage to another person’s property or any injuries caused to a third party.

Most drivers opt for fully comprehensive insurance which also covers driver or passenger injuries and theft or damage to the car.

Cyclists use the same roads as cars and face greater levels of risk:

  • Cyclists are classed as ‘vulnerable road users’ and are at greater risk of injury (per hour of cycling) than drivers.
  • According to RoSPA, 18,477 cyclists were injured on UK roads in 2016.
  • Department for Transport (DfT) figures show that 531 pedestrians were hit by cyclists in 2017.

Nearly half a million bicycles are stolen every year. Bikes, especially e-bikes, can cost many thousands of pounds.

Despite the indisputable risks, cycling insurance is not a legal requirement for cyclists and there are no plans for this to be revised.

What does cycling insurance cover?

Most cycling insurance policies cover:

  • Personal/public liability which covers you if you injure another road user, pedestrian or property when cycling
  • Personal injury cover for any medical treatments, legal fees, loss of earrings etc
  • Theft or accidental damage to your bike

How am I at risk by not having insurance?

If, for example, you were to injure a pedestrian when cycling, you could end up as the defendant in a cycling injury claim. If there is a reasonable prospect of the pedestrian (the claimant) winning the case, they will be able to get no win, no fee legal representation.

If you (the defendant) are not insured, you will have to pay your solicitors legal fees yourself. If the pedestrian’s claim is successful, you will have to pay their personal injury award, their legal costs and yours.

Personal injury awards typically run into £10,000’s - but can be much higher depending on the severity of the injury.

Even if your solicitor successfully defends the claim, you still won’t be able to recover your legal costs from the pedestrian. Legal fees can also be to £10,000’s or even £100,000’s.

In other words, whether the accident was your fault or the pedestrians, financially speaking you are in a lose-lose situation.

What if I am injured?

If you were injured and another party was to blame (even partly), you may be able to make a personal injury claim.

If your claim is successful, you would be compensated by the driver’s insurance company. If the driver is untraceable or uninsured, you still could pursue a claim through the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB).

However, just because you were knocked off your bike by a driver, does not mean your claim will succeed. Many European countries take a no-fault approach to cycle accidents, meaning that if a cyclist is injured by a motor vehicle, the liability always lies with the driver.

The UK does not take a no-fault approach. If there is insufficient evidence in your favour, you do not have an automatic right to claim. In considering whether to accept your case, solicitors will carry out a risk assessment. If the assessment predicts a lower than 50% chance of success, you will struggle to find representation on a no win, no fee basis.

If you were injured in a collision with another bicycle or pedestrian you can still make a legal claim. As the pedestrian or cyclist will probably be uninsured, they may not be able to afford to pay you any compensation - even if you win.

If, on the other hand, you are insured against injury, you would be able to claim on your own insurance.

If you are uninsured you could find yourself seriously injured, unable to work and facing crippling legal costs.

Aren't I covered under my home insurance?

You may be. Most home policies cover bike theft at home and some include cover away from home. It is estimated that one in three household policies do not cover bikes away from the home.

Some policies also cover personal liability (cover for costs where the policyholder has caused the accident) but this is much less common.

What about e-bikes?

Providing that the electric bike does not provide assistance over 15.5 mph (25 km/h) and the motor power does not exceed 250 watts, an e-bike is classed as a bicycle. As such insurance is not a legal requirement for e-bikes.

Insurers offer similar cover for e-bikes

Cars and motorbikes have to be insured - so why not bicycles?

There is little prospect of bicycle insurance becoming mandatory in the near future. In a free society, it’s defensible for people to choose to expose themselves to the known levels of risk associated with cycling.

However, a cyclist might injure another person and be unable to pay the compensation. In this case, it might be argued that the cyclist has a moral obligation to either take out insurance or make sure they can, and are prepared to, pay compensation to an injured party.

It is not the purpose of this article to promote any particular type of policy or company. However, a cursory glance at the internet reveals that insurance coverage is available from a range of providers, from cycling associations to insurance companies, and third party liability can be had for just a few pounds a month.

It will be some time before cycling insurance is normalised, but taking out a policy is a decision you are unlikely to regret.

How we can help

If you have been injured on your bike and another person was to blame (even partly), we can help you get the financial compensation you to deserve. Speak to one of our legally trained cycling accident advisors who will tell you what your options are and how likely a claim is to be successful.

If you then decide to pursue a claim, we will put you through to a solicitor with the best expertise to handle your claim.

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Chris Salmon, Director

Chris Salmon, Director