Cycling is a cost-effective, healthy and environmentally friendly way to get around. That’s why the UK has experienced a cycling renaissance in recent years, with more than two million people now cycling each week - for commuting, fitness or fun.
But as cycling has increased in popularity bicycle theft has also soared. Hundreds of thousands of bicycles are snatched from our streets each year.
Bicycle insurance policies can compensate you for the theft and damage of your two-wheeled ride. And more than that, they can also cover you for claims made for injury and damage you may cause while riding it, much like a car insurance policy.
In this guide:
- Why do you need to insure your bicycle?
- What does bicycle insurance cover?
- What are common bicycle insurance exclusions?
- Will my bicycle be covered by my home insurance?
As Britons have embraced cycling, we’ve upgraded our kit, splashing out hundreds on hybrids, Dutch bikes and road bikes. Today, to buy a sturdy, versatile, and high quality bicycle, you’ll need shell out at least £250. And many fitness fanatics and rain or shine bicycle commuters spend much more than that— up £1,000 on folding models and carbon road bikes. As the costs and popularity of bicycles have increased, they’ve attracted the attention of thieves, including organised gangs which traffic in stolen bikes. Thieves can grab bicycles easily and with little risk often using bolt cutters bought from home improvement stores, file off serial numbers and sell them for hundreds of pounds on Gumtree or at street markets across the country.
In 2017, 290,000 bicycles were reported stolen in England and Wales according to crime statistics from the Office of Statistics. But with an estimated 71% of bicycle thefts never recorded with police, the true number of stolen bicycles is likely much higher.
Bicycle theft is particularly rife in London where more than 20,000 bicycles are reported stolen each year. Few bicycles are ever recovered by the authorities. The cost of replacing snatched bicycles is so onerous that a survey of victims by Stolen Bikes UK found a quarter stopped cycling altogether and 66% cycled less afterwards. Bicycle insurance can provide reassurance and cover for the replacement of stolen bikes.
Additionally, as more Britons hit the road on bicycles, they’re sustaining and causing more injuries. Each year more than 100 cyclists are killed on British roads and more than 3,000 are seriously injured. Bicycle insurance can offer compensation to your family if you’re killed and financial support if you’re injured. It can also cover for your legal costs and claims for compensation if you’re found at fault in an accident that injures another road user or damages their property.
Specialist bicycle insurance policies cover you for the theft and damage of your bicycle and if you add on extras, for a range of other mishaps and eventualities.
The following cover comes as standard:
- Theft or damage of a stationary bicycle. This cover usually extends around the UK, but some policies include Europe and the rest of the world.
- Damage to a bicycle due to an accident, if it’s being ridden as normal on the road.
- Loss or damage of accessories attached to the bicycle itself.
Premium cover, either included with higher-end policies or added on as extras with others, includes:
- Personal accident, if you’re injured or killed while riding your bicycle.
- Public liability, if you injure someone or damage their property while riding your bicycle and face claims for compensation or legal action.
- Loss or damage to accessories that aren’t attached to the bicycle, including clip-on lights.
- Roadside assistance.
- For professional cyclists and keen athletes, damage sustained to the bicycle while you’re competing in an official race, damage to cycling clothing and race fees lost if you can’t compete.
Bicycle insurance policies won’t pay out in all circumstances. Common exclusions include:
- Theft of a bicycle that hasn’t been properly secured or stored. Typically, insurers will only cover bicycles parked in public spaces if they’re secured with an industry-approved lock to an immovable object, like a bike rack, and only left there for a maximum of 12 to 24 hours. You’ll also generally have to store your bicycle when not in use in your home or a locked shed or garage. Bicycles left in communal areas, even behind locked doors, will need to be locked up. Specialist policies may stipulate the type and rating of lock you use, under the Sold Secure rating system.
- Cosmetic damage to the bicycle, like scratches and dents, that don’t affect how it rides.
- Theft of a bicycle you can’t prove you own. So keep a receipt and write down the serial number.
- Damage and claims emerging from accidents that happen if you’re cycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Some home insurance deals include cover for your bicycle, either as standard or as an extra you can bolt on for an additional charge on your premiums. When you compare home insurance, read the fine print of any policy to see if they cover bicycles. But in many cases, this cover will not be sufficient or specific enough, especially if you have a high value bike and cycle frequently.
Some contents insurance policies limit cover for bicycles to well below what a high-end bike would cost to replace.
Home insurance policies can also have excesses that may exceed the cost of your bicycle. If your bicycle is stolen separately, rather than being damaged or lost as part of a wider disaster or burglary, you may have to cover its repair or replacement entirely yourself, under the limit of your excess.
Some of these policies won’t cover your bicycle when it’s out of the house and if they do, they won’t provide extras like personal accident and public liability cover.
Finally, claiming for the theft or damage of your bicycle will make your insurer believe you are higher risk as well as wreck your no claims bonus, meaning your home contents insurance policy will cost more when it comes up for renewal.