Everything you need to know about bicycle insurance

The most comprehensive buyer's guide to bicycle insurance on the web

It’s well worth considering investing in bicycle insurance if you want to cover your bike against theft and accidental damage, or if you travel and race lots and want to be covered for every eventuality.

This is the most comprehensive guide to choosing the best bicycle insurance on the web and will help you make an informed decision on the type of cover you may need.

Home vs specialist bicycle insurance

Home insurance is, by far, the most popular way to insure bikes. According to a survey carried out by BikeRadar in April 2016, 75 percent of those who insure their bike do so via their home insurance.

The appeal of doing so is obvious; including your bike under home insurance keeps everything neatly tied up into one package and is one less thing to think about when it comes to renewal. If you are after a fuss-free policy that will cover you for the basics, it can also present good value for money.

However, there are disadvantages to insuring your bike on home insurance compared to specialist cover, particularly for the dedicated cyclist.

In this guide, we’ll cover the advantages and disadvantages of each approach based around the key concerns that cycle owners have, which are:

  • Theft
  • Accidental damage cover
  • Event cover
  • Travel insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Accident/personal insurance

It’s possible to purchase insurance that will cover pretty much every eventuality imaginable, but for cyclists, these are the main areas to focus.

We’ll kick things off by going through each of these and detailing what you should be aware of, and compare the advantages of specialist bicycle cover versus general insurance products.

Theft cover

Having your bike stolen really, really sucks
Having your bike stolen really, really sucks

When asked in a survey carried out by BikeRadar, the majority of respondents were primarily interested in insurance cover for theft of their bicycles.

This is not without good reason, with 276,000 bikes stolen in the UK last year (according to the Office for National Statistics), it’s clear that they’re a prime target for thieves.

Insurance can help you recoup the cost of a new bike in the event it is stolen, with many insurers offering to replace your old bike for new, and the market for these sorts of products has become increasingly competitive in recent years.

If you do want to insure your bike via your home insurance, the first thing to do is to check that it is actually covered under your policy.

This competition has meant that cover is better than ever as providers scramble to claim their slice of the market.

While any provider will still expect you to undertake your due diligence, leaders in the market now pay out up to 95 percent of claims.

If you do want to insure your bike via your home insurance, the first thing to do is to check that it is actually covered under your policy.

Most policies will include basic bicycle cover under standard ‘personal belongings’ cover, but it’s likely to have a maximum claim that may not suit the value of your oh-so-precious bike, with some policies setting limits as low as £350.

Some providers will allow you to increase the maximum value of your personal belongings, but it’s best to speak to your provider directly to determine the level that you can set that limit. The best policies will go as high as £15,000.

This can add quite a lot to your premium, so shop around and make sure specialist cover — and all the associated benefits it brings — won’t work out cheaper.

Unless explicitly stated, most home insurance policies will also only cover a bike if it is stored indoors or properly secured in a garage or shed. The downsides of this are obvious for the cyclist who doesn’t ride solely on a turbo trainer and wants to take their bike outdoors.

However, a number of home insurance providers will allow you to extend coverage out of the home.

For example, M&S Bank and Hiscox insurance allow you to add ‘away from home’ coverage for a premium.

Be sure to pay close attention to the details here and make sure that your policy covers your bike when it is ‘in use’. Some insurers will only cover your bike for accidental damage or theft when it is stationary/being stored.

The same advice applies to specialist cover, but check the rules around storing your bike in a car, particularly overnight. Many home insurance policies specify that a bike must be stored out of sight or your cover is invalidated.

If you own more than one bike, it’s a good idea to shop around, because some insurers will offer generous discounts — sometimes as much as 60 percent — on additional bikes.

A last word of warning: while it may seem obvious to an experienced cyclist, explaining to a home insurance provider that a bicycle could possibly be worth a sum of many thousands more than a car may be... challenging. A specialist provider is more likely to understand in such a situation.

Insuring a bicycle with renters/tenants insurance

If you don’t own your home and you don’t want to go down the specialist cover route, it’s also worth considering covering your bike with renters/tenants insurance.

All of the same guidance for home insurance applies here, so make sure you shop around and speak to your provider to find out about all of the nitty-gritty details. Pay particular attention if you live in shared accommodation because this can complicate matters.

Accidental damage coverage

Accidental damage happens. Some insurance policies will cover you for such mishaps
Accidental damage happens. Some insurance policies will cover you for such mishaps

Despite theft being the biggest concern for most cyclists, accidental damage coverage makes up the biggest portion of claims for most specialist bicycle insurance providers.

For example, Bikmo revealed via its Open Project that a whopping 83 percent of its claims were for accidental damage.

Accidental damage cover will typically cover everything from replacing a whole bike down to individual components and accessories depending on the level of coverage you choose.

Home insurance may work out well for more expensive items such as GPS devices and helmets, but specialist cover is normally a better option if you want comprehensive cover for all of your kit.

This isn’t quite as cut and dry as theft cover, so shop around and compare policies if you are a particularly accident prone cyclist!

Event cover

If you're keen on your racing, make sure your policy covers this
If you're keen on your racing, make sure your policy covers this

If racing is a big part of your life as a cyclist, it’s worth shopping around to see what cover may be useful to you.

Your entry fees to any well-run event will include third-party insurance. This will protect you and the organiser if you injure a spectator or damage property. However, it is unlikely to cover personal injury, damage to your bike, or injury or damage to fellow competitors and their bikes.

Most specialist bike insurance providers will include the option to add dedicated event cover. Home insurance providers are very, very unlikely to offer this.

Depending on the provider you choose, most will also cover for accidental damage to your bike and kit that may occur during a race. Most will also cover you against theft from any transitions.

Some insurers will also often pay out if you get injured before an event and can’t attend, covering any loss of entry fees.

If you’re only planning on attending a few events in a year and don’t want to lump for a full year’s coverage, it’s worth looking into short-term coverage. Some providers will allow you to buy coverage for a week at a time.

Some policies will exclude mass start events, crits and extreme fringes of the sport (think trials riding, Megavalanche and the like), so make sure whatever you choose will work for you.

Travel insurance for cyclists

If you're travelling abroad with your bike, make sure you're covered
If you're travelling abroad with your bike, make sure you're covered

If you are planning a trip abroad with your bike, it’s worth investigating whether taking out insurance from a specialist provider is a better option than non-specialist travel insurance.

Non-specialist travel insurance policies may cover you if you happen to ride a bike while on holiday, but are unlikely to cover you if the trip is explicitly a cycling holiday. Such a policy will also almost certainly not cover mountain biking or any form of racing.

Most travel insurance policies will also not pay the costs of a hire bike if your bike is damaged in transit. 

Specialist bike insurance policies are much more likely to cover such eventualities and are pretty much the only way to make sure you’re covered if you are racing.

If you’re going abroad to race in some ridiculous ultra-endurance event (can’t you just have a normal holiday?), check the details of your plan because some include distance or duration limits.

See how relaxed these guys are? That's because they made sure their travel insurance had them covered before they left
See how relaxed these guys are? That's because they made sure their travel insurance had them covered before they left

Some home insurance policies that cover your bike against theft or damage when away from the home will also have limited cover when abroad.

Be sure to pay close attention to the terms of your policy, but pay particular attention to rules around theft and accidental damage when in transit.

Like racing insurance, most specialist providers will also offer short-term packages.

Liability/third party insurance for cyclists

Third party and liability insurance is a whole other kettle of fish.

Following a number of very unpleasant high-profile cases involving cyclists hitting pedestrians, there’s no doubt that the political climate in the UK is moving in favour of tougher rules and harsher sentences for cyclists. This is all taking place against the backdrop of an increasingly litigious society.

With this in mind, it may well be time that you consider liability insurance to protect you in the event of a serious accident.

Not only will it cover you for damage to others and their property, but can also cover you for legal costs.

Accident/personal insurance for cyclists

Personal insurance will provide you with financial support should you be seriously injured on your bike.

Some policies will pay out a lump sum if you are unable to work due to your injuries and help cover medical costs including physiotherapy and dentistry work.

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, make sure you declare these with your insurer because failure to do so may nullify any cover.

A dedicated personal insurance policy will offer a far more comprehensive level of coverage compared to a specialist bicycle insurance policy.

However, as most products offer some level of personal insurance cover, it’s worth comparing what’s on offer as it may help make up your mind if you’re stuck between two policies.

Should I buy specialist bicycle insurance or use my home insurance?

Specialist bicycle insurance may feel like yet another expense, but if you want the best possible chance of getting a payout in the event of a claim, it’s almost certainly your best bet.

It may seem ridiculous to mention it, but bear in mind that a cycling-specific insurer will also likely better understand, and perhaps be more sympathetic, to your potential claim than a home insurance provider.

The same can be said for when you’re trying to set up your policy — explaining to a home insurance representative that your bike costs more than anything else you own can be frustrating.

With that said, if you’re after basic cover against theft for a cheap bike and don’t plan on travelling abroad or racing, putting a bike on home insurance may offer better value for money.

Lastly, the same advice applies to all providers, but make sure you pay close attention to the small print — insurance wouldn’t be a very profitable industry if providers paid out in every circumstance, so make sure you’re not going to be caught out by any sneaky loopholes.

Club membership

You may not be aware, but membership of a club often includes insurance.

Exactly what level of coverage is on offer differs from club-to-club, but a good number include third party and liability cover as a minimum.

British Cycling is the most well-known club that offers discounted coverage.

For those who partake in other outdoor pursuits, some alternative clubs will have insurance that may cover you.

The Austrian Alpine Club is a commonly referenced option. While it will never cover you to the same level as a dedicated bicycle insurance policy, depending on the circumstances, it may cover you if you are injured while riding abroad.

Common mistakes — tips to make sure you’re covered

As we’ve already alluded to, insurers will expect you to do your due diligence, and failure to follow these tips could sting if you have to make a claim.

How to lock your bike

Investing in a good lock is critical to making sure you're covered
Investing in a good lock is critical to making sure you're covered

If locking your bike away from home, make sure you do so in a well trafficked, bright and, ideally, CCTV-covered area.

This will not only make your bike less likely to be a target for theft, but will also make your life easier should you have to make a claim.

Some insurance providers even supply a list of approved locks that must be used. To pick a random example, Pedalsure requires that:

  • Bikes valued up to £1,000 are secured with a minimum Sold Secure Bronze lock
  • Bikes valued between £1,000 and £2,000 are secured with a Sold Secure Silver or Gold
  • And bikes over £2,000 are secured with a Sold Secure Gold lock

In this particular case, using anything else would void your insurance. Sold Secure has a list of approved locks on its website.

Even if your policy doesn’t specify a particular model, you should still invest in a dependable and secure lock. Check out our very comprehensive test of the best locks on the market for recommendations.

Lastly, make sure there are no weird clauses in the small print regarding the condition you leave your bike in when locking it up.

As BikeRadar reported way back in 2008, one insurer insisted that because a student had not removed their saddle and front wheel when their bike was stolen, their claim was voided.

As far as we can tell, there’s nothing like this these days, but it still can’t hurt to check.

Abandonment

Abandonment refers to a bike that has been left unattended when locked up away from your home for a set amount of time.

Some providers will define a bicycle as abandoned after as little as 12 hours, but most insurers define abandonment as 24 hours unattended.

If you leave your bike over this amount of time, you may not be covered, particularly against accidental damage or vandalism.

Why you should register your bike

It is good practice to register your bike with one of a number of popular services.

In the UK, Bike Register is the most popular and is the service used by the police if it is trying to identify a stolen bike.

Provided the bike has been registered via the scheme, a logbook will also be available online, meaning you’re able to check whether a second-hand bike is stolen.

Full details of the scheme are available on the Bike Register website.

Take photos

On a similar note, it’s also good practice to take regular clear photos of your bike, particularly if you make any upgrades from stock components.

It’s a good idea to photograph your bike’s frame number, which is normally but not always stamped underneath the bottom bracket shell of the frame. It can also play a critical part in getting your bike back to you should it end up stolen.

In our obsessively Instagrammed world, this shouldn’t pose too much of an issue to most, but clear and accurate photos paired with receipts will make your life much easier should your bike be stolen.

Is your bike insured if someone else rides it?

Details differ from policy to policy, but most will cover you if an immediate family member uses your bike.

A word of advice

If all of this seems excessive and a hassle, I’d urge you to swallow the moderate inconvenience now — the stress of working with the police and making a claim to your insurers without thorough details will be far worse.

You must remember that paying out on a claim costs insurers money. Paying out on every claim would not be a very good business model, so proving that you have done your due diligence will make your life much easier. The police are also much more likely to take you seriously.

Conclusion

Now that you’re a seasoned insurance expert, you can make a reasoned judgement as to who is going to offer the right policy for you.

Luckily, we’ve done some of the heavy lifting for cyclists in the UK and, in conjunction with some of the industry’s leading providers in the UK, have put together a list of the best UK insurance policies for cyclists on the market.

In the meantime, leave any of your thoughts and experiences, good or bad, in the comments. We’ll do our best to get back to your questions!

Jack Luke

Staff Writer, UK
Jack has been riding and fettling with bikes for his whole life. Always in search of the hippest new niche in cycling, Jack is a self-confessed gravel dork and thinks nothing of bivouacking on a beach after work. Also fond of cup and cone bearings, skids and tan wall tyres.
  • Discipline: Long days in the saddle by either road or mountain bike
  • Preferred Terrain: Happiest when on a rural road by the coast or crossing a remote mountain pass. Also partial to a cheeky gravel adventure or an arduous hike-a-bike.
  • Current Bikes: Custom Genesis Croix de Fer all road adventure wagon, Niner EMD 9.
  • Dream Bike: A rigid 44 Bikes Marauder, all black please.
  • Beer of Choice: Caesar Augustus
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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