British Cycling has confirmed to BikeRadar that if an accident were to happen while taking part in a Strava segment challenge hosted by a club that included a prize or leaderboard, any individual, event or club insurance taken with the national governing body could be invalidated.
Likewise, at least one specialist cycling insurance provider contacted by BikeRadar also confirmed its standard products could exclude taking part in such events because it too counts them as races.
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The issue came to our attention when a representative for British Cycling posted to the body’s South West region Facebook page, highlighting the new advice.
The post specifically raised concerns that Strava segment challenges hosted by a club offering a prize or leaderboard at the end of a set period of time would, in the eyes of BC, be viewed as an ‘event’.
Many cycling clubs in the UK use British Cycling as their insurance provider. BC’s Club insurance does not cover ‘events’, competitive or otherwise. Separate event insurance and a risk assessment is required to cover any event.
Responding to our queries, a British Cycling spokesperson said:
“Club insurance does not extend to Strava segment challenges where they constitute a race.
“As per our Club Insurance Q&A’s, ‘An event would be deemed to be a race if it gives results in order of time and/or declares a winner (or Club Champion) and/or awards prizes (other than tokens)’.
“In certain cases, we have seen that clubs have promoted and published results and, therefore, that is deemed to be a race which does not fall under Club Insurance.
“If the race is not registered as an event with us – which requires a risk assessment – then there is no insurance in place.
“Where an individual member is undertaking a Strava segment their third party liability insurance would be in place, providing they are not acting recklessly.”
This is, obviously, a concern for clubs in the UK. The ongoing lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has put a halt to all sportives and racing in the UK, and many clubs will have turned to segment challenges to fill the gap.
What does this mean for your cycling insurance?
This clarification raises the same question for an individual rider’s insurance. As British Cycling views such an event as a race, would a specialist cycling insurer view it in the same way?
Most cycling insurers exclude racing from their standard policies, raising the possibility that a rider’s insurance could be void if they were involved in an accident when taking part in the challenge.
Looking beyond segment challenges organised by clubs, would trying to best your time on a segment leaderboard – an integral part of the Strava experience (albeit one you need pay for now) – also count as competition in the eyes of an insurer?
Similarly, do official ‘challenges’ hosted by Strava itself count as competition?
We have contacted three specialist insurers to find out.
In short, as is always the case with insurance, the answer is ‘it depends’
For example, PedalSure views segment challenges in their current guise as “informal events organised virtually with no marshals or officials”, and would therefore not count as a competition. This means you would be covered irrespective of whether or not you have PedalSure’s additional competition cover.
“Strava challenges organised by clubs are evolving all the time and the more formal they become, the more likely it is they would constitute a ‘competition’ for the purpose of our cover and therefore require our ‘Competition’ cover add-on for coverage,” adds PedalSure’s statement.
Bikmo states that “riding a Strava segment as part of a challenge, whether it’s hosted by a club or not, is not itself excluded from our policy”. However, it then goes on to caution that if the challenge is “ranked by result, or prizes are given” it could be considered a competition. In this case, “unless an insured rider has ‘Competition’ cover included in their policy with us, they may not be covered”.
Bikmo also added: “Strava segments inject an element of fun into riding for many of us, much needed in the current climate. Cyclists should always adhere to the rules of the road, and there must be an element of common sense and personal accountability in deciding where to apply effort. We should all consider ourselves cycling ambassadors as the sport continues to grow in popularity”.
Yellow Jersey would not count these challenges as a race unless “people are turning up at the same time to compete or the organiser was seeking to make some financial gain”.
If you have cycling insurance – and it is something well worth considering – we recommend you contact your provider for a definitive answer.
Please note that we have only contacted insurers based in the UK, so can’t comment on the situation elsewhere.
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All of this raises a multitude of other interesting questions – would racing on Zwift or another virtual racing platform, which does award prizes, count as competition?
For example, if you were to fall ill while racing on Zwift, would your insurance then be void if you did not have specific cover for racing/competition?
It’s beyond the scope of this article to cover every eventuality. As such, our advice would be to proceed cautiously and contact your provider.
If you have any doubts, don’t be afraid to push for concrete answers from your provider.
Strava segments and cycling insurance | What the insurance industry says
BikeRadar: If an accident were to happen while competing on a Strava segment challenge hosted by a club, would a rider’s individual, event or club insurance be void, and make them liable for the costs of any accidents, incidents or litigation that might arise?
Bikmo: “Riding a Strava segment as part of a challenge, whether it’s hosted by a club or not, is not itself excluded from our policy. It does, however, exclude ‘deliberate or reckless acts’, which we think is fair. We all have a responsibility to be sensible out there and not do things that put ourselves or others at extra risk.
“If the event is massed start, and either defined as competitive by British Cycling, ranked by result, or prizes are given, then it could be defined as a ‘Competition’ under our policy. In this case, unless an insured rider has ‘Competition’ cover included in their policy with us, they may not be covered.
“Not all Bikmo customers have cover for Public Liability or Personal Accident under their policy with us. We encourage everyone to check their policy and schedule carefully to understand what cover is included and excluded.”
PedalSure: “A Strava segment challenge is something of a grey area, but in their current guise as informal events organised virtually with no marshals or officials, they would not constitute a ‘competition’ for the purpose of our cover.
“Our insurance would, therefore, cover your participation in a Strava segment challenge hosted by a club, whether or not your policy included our specific ‘Competition’ cover add-on.”
Yellow Jersey: “People have been using Strava sections since the platform launched to better their times, or beat a friend over the same distance, with many cyclists actively riding out to sections to get a KOM. At Yellow Jersey, we’ve never classed this as racing. We would cover you if you had an accident on any our and of our Bicycle Insurance policies.
“If, however, a group of people were all turning up at the same time to complete a challenge together, organised by a club or event then this would likely be classed as a race – we would need to look at the details of an individual event to give a view. If a club was organising an event, within the social distancing laws, that was deemed to be a race, we would be able to offer them an event policy to cover their liability.
“To save confusion, we would class a challenge as a race if people are turning up at the same time to compete or the organiser was seeking to make some financial gain, and in this instance, the organisers should seek insurance, otherwise, we wouldn’t.
“If people are entering a Virtual Race (for example the Castle Virtual Series) where the organisers are selling places for people to compete virtually, we would expect the organiser and the participants to have appropriate cover for racing”.
BikeRadar: Would taking part in a challenge organised by Strava itself fall under the same criteria?
Bikmo: “Whether the event was organised by a club or Strava would not itself make any difference to any claim decision with Bikmo. All of the above still applies.”
PedalSure: “We understand that official challenges organised by Strava do not involve the selection of a ‘winner’ and therefore should not constitute a “competition” for the purpose of our cover. On that basis, you would be covered taking part in a challenge organised by Strava, again, whether or not your policy included our specific ‘Competition’ cover add-on.”
Yellow Jersey: “Strava organised events are challenges, not races. For example, ride 300km in June to gain a voucher or badge. We believe an individual with any level of Yellow Jersey Bicycle Insurance would still be covered should they have an accident while completing a challenge.”
BikeRadar: If an accident happened when riding on a segment that wasn’t included as part of a challenge, could insurance also be void in this case?
Bikmo: “Whether the racing was on a segment that was or wasn’t included as part of a challenge would not itself make any difference to any claim decision with Bikmo. All of the above still applies.”
PedalSure: “Our policy would cover you in this scenario, whether or not your policy included our specific ‘Competition’ cover add-on.”
Yellow Jersey: “No.”
BikeRadar: Would any additional racing coverage purchased allow riders to compete in club segment challenges without the possibility of their insurance – individual, event or club – being void?
Bikmo: “As above – the challenge as you’ve described it, would not be excluded from our policy. If the challenge was organised in a way that meant it could be defined as a ‘Competition’ under our policy, then any customers who do not have ‘Competition’ cover may be able to purchase a new policy, or upgrade at renewal, to include this cover. This could then allow them to take part, providing all other requirements of the policy are met too of course.”
PedalSure: “Purchasing additional racing coverage through our ‘Competition’ cover add-on, for example, would certainly ensure you would be fully covered for these types of challenges as well as traditional organised events, such as British Cycling-sanctioned races and triathlons.
“Strava challenges organised by clubs are evolving all the time and the more formal they become – with official rules and requirements for example – the more likely it is they would constitute a ‘competition’ for the purpose of our cover and therefore require our ‘Competition’ cover add-on for coverage.”
Yellow Jersey: “In normal circumstances, we require customers to take our Ultimate tier of insurance in order to get cover for racing however, we don’t believe that these challenges are classed as races and therefore we feel that people taking part would still be covered under a Yellow Jersey.
“If a club wanted to organise a challenge for people to take part in virtually and they are concerned that their BC licence won’t cover them, we would be happy to talk to them and provide a quote for a separate liability policy to cover the participants on a case by case basis.”