Do I need to take out cycle insurance?

Cyclist pushing his bike

An estimated 85% of cyclists have no insurance cover at all. Most insured cyclists have bike theft cover only, and they wouldn't be covered if they needed to make or defend an injury claim.

As cycling continues to grow in popularity, is now the time to think about comprehensive cycling insurance?

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 share the roads with cars and other vehicles, but they face far greater levels of risk:

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

Despite these risks, third-party cycling insurance is not a legal requirement and there are no plans for it to become so.

What does specialist 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.

Without insurance, whether the accident was your fault or the pedestrian's, 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.

Without insurance, 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 whilst 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 policies 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 cover is available from a range of providers, from cycling associations to insurance companies, and the peace of mind of third party liability can be obtained 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.

See also:

Claiming compensation for a cycling injury

I was partly to blame - can I claim?

I wasn't wearing a helmet - can claim?

I was cycling at night without lights - can I claim?

I was injured when cycling on the pavement - can I claim?

I wasn't wearing a helmet - can claim?

What happened?

If you were injured as a cyclist, or you were involved in a collision with a cyclist, click on the icons below to read more about claiming:

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Chris Salmon, Director

Chris Salmon, Director