Monday, November 23


You ride a bike. Some of you worry about cars. What, however, is the story if you either get hit, hit someone, or most likely of all, have a serious fall? One thing you'll often see in anti-cyclist comments are "get insurance." Well, in reality, you DO need to carry insurance if you're going to ride your bike. Not that the "GEICO" Caveman, shown at right, could get any dedicated bike insurance through his company, though they MIGHT drop his auto rate!

Here's what my research into this has found:

If you own a house and also drive a car, you may be in good shape with no further action on your part. As personal property, your bike may be covered against theft by your Homeowner's Insurance, and that same policy may also cover you against a liability claim if, for example, you run over one of those little yippy dogs on a MUP, or, speeding along, inadvertently crash into the back of a new Bugatti. If, on the other hand, you're hit BY a motorist, who then runs, making good an escape, your AUTO insurance may cover your medical expenses. Protect yourself against scofflaw motorists by confirming this and bump up your UM/UIM coverage as high as possible. It's not a bad idea to verify both of these when it is merely a matter of gaining peace of mind rather than after the fact. One caveat here - I carry a high deductible on my homeowner's insurance. Even if Buddy were stolen (I paid as much for Buddy as all my other bikes combined), it probably would not be worth making a theft claim.

If you don't own a house and are carfree, your options are more limited. In many countries, such as the UK, you could buy a bicycle policy and cover yourself. Since bikes aren't high risk, they don't cost a lot to insure. In the USA, however, I couldn't find dedicated cyclist insurance. Even LAB only appears to cover club insurance. If you get renter's insurance, that'd cover basic liability and theft, but then you'd still have the possibility of large medical bills should you be hit by a hit & run driver. Your health insurance would probably pay, pursuing reimbursement against the guilty party, which MIGHT be you if it's a matter of a fall. I don't know how to get around that problem. I guess we really DO live in a car culture. I think talk of becoming like the Netherlands might be more credible if we'd reached the point where bicycle insurance was more than just something to beat cyclists about the head and shoulders with.

Electric Bike Insurance (They get a bit enamored with the USA Cycling insurance)
Phred.Org (Bikes & Insurance)
Velonews (Bob Mionske)
Bicycle Insurance Blog (covers Canada & US, though the news isn't pretty)


ChipSeal said...

One day when I can manage it, I intend to cease being car-free. But not like you think!

I intend to buy a wreck (literally) of a car, with the intent of letting it slowly decay somewhere, owned but not driven.

I will get it fully insured though!

Sadly, it appears that in order to protect yourself while being car-free, one must still be a car owner. (Sigh)

The ideal would be a car on the way to a crusher, just using the VIN and such. More than one insurance agent has told me that they could see no problem with this plan.

Fortunately, cycling is such a safe activity I don't feel any anxiety to have to execute this plan.

Keri said...

PIP from your car insurance may only pay if you are hit by a car or prove that a car was involved in the crash. I was injured in a paceline crash that resulted from an oncoming motorist passing a line of traffic illegally. It spooked a rider ahead of me and resulted in a pile-up. I called USAA to see if the crash was covered and they told me the above info. Since my stitches at the walk-in clinic were only $75, I didn't bother pursuing a claim.

I carry a medical rider on my car insurance to make sure I have 100% coverage. It costs about $10/yr, worth it for the peace of mind. I had it for the motorcycle, but it carries over to the bicycle, so I kept it when I sold the motorcycle.

The problem with relying on health insurance is that while they are trying to wriggle out of paying, the medical providers get antsy and start billing the patient. Sorting that mess is the last thing you want to deal with if you're injured. Every hospital visit I've had resulted in medical providers double-billing (double-dipping) both the patient and the insurance company. I like the peace of mind to know it's 100% covered by USAA, so I can just write that on the back of the bill and mail it back to them.

Plus, my exorbitant, extortionist health insurance—that costs more than I used to pay in rent for a downtown office—has a $5000 deductible.

Chandra said...

nice eye-opener post steve!
great comments, kari and chipseal!!
now, i gotta act on it.

peace :)

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