Q: While holidaying in Cornwall last summer I visited Land's End (as you do!) and saw some photos of some people who had cycled the 900-odd miles from John O'Groats to Land's End. I've always been a keen cyclist and eager for a challenge, so I decided to do it. I trained from September (last year), all through the winter, averaging 100 miles a week and closer to 200 during April.
While on the first 20 minutes of a 50 miler at the end of April, I was hit from behind by a car doing 35mph.
The driver openly admitted that she'd been looking over her right shoulder to check the dual carriageway that she was joining, when she hit me from behind. The police were excellent and Frenchay Hospital in Bristol did a great job of fixing me up.
The question I have is: how much money could I expect to receive in order to replace my bike? I bought the bike from eBay for £500. It is (or was!) a 2003 Giant TCR with brand new Ultegra Group-set throughout. A local bike shop compared it to the 2006 Giant TCR1 at a value of £1,500.
Can I expect to receive the money needed to buy a brand new equivalent bike? Or will they take an age percentage off for depreciation?
Kevin Wright, Bristol, email
A: The law says that you are entitled to financial compensation that's sufficient to allow you to be put back in the position you would have been in had the accident not happened. So, if you had a three-year-old bike, then you are entitled to what it would cost you to buy an equivalent three-year-old bike.
Unfortunately, with bikes it's not as simple as it sounds. Many insurance companies will try to treat the case as equivalent to a damaged car. The car market is very different, because if you have a particular model of three-year-old Ford Fiesta, the second-hand car market is sufficiently large that in most cases you can find an equivalent replacement car. Not so with a bike, for various reasons.
The first difficulty is that the secondhand bike market isn't vast, and the chances of finding your exact model, same age, frame size and so on, is pretty slim. Secondly, bikes are difficult to put a value on because, as in your case, components or whole groupsets, wheels and so on will often have been replaced, so while the frame is three-years-old, you don't say when the bike was purchased, or whether the groupset was purchased with it, but assuming that the groupset was still pretty much new at the time of the incident, then you're entitled to the cost of buying a new replacement groupset.
If you can show that it is nigh on impossible to replace your frame and other components on the second-hand market, then you are entitled to the cost of a new equivalent. You are not expected to jump through hoops to prove this, but must try to obtain as much evidence as you can - extracts from the 'for sale' columns in Cycling Plus or any other mags you can obtain will help, plus a letter from your local bike shop stating they have no equivalent second-hand models for sale and don't expect to have any .
Don't be fobbed off by the insurance company: many of their staff aren't fully trained in the law relating to civil claims and will try to apply the insurance law principle that you aren't entitled to 'new for old'. These laws apply when you are claiming under your own policy - not when you are claiming from a third party (i.e. the car that hit you) for damage that they caused.
There's a similar warning about claiming for damaged clothes: again, insurers often try to make a reduction for 'wear and tear'. But how feasible is it to buy second-hand clothes, which is all you would be able to do if you don't get the full replacement value?
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