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Think you're covered by your contents insurance? Better check

Many of us assume that our bikes are covered by our house contents policies, at least while they're in the house. But are they? Here's what to check, and where to go if you need specific bike insurance.

Dig out out your house contents policy and check exactly what it says about bikes. It's likely to be under one of these headings:

  • General Exclusions
  • Contents and Valuables
  • Personal Possessions
  • Conditions & Exclusions
  • Pedal Cycles, Bikes or Cycling

It's possible you'll find one of the following exclusions:

  • Bikes over a particular value, often £500
  • Bikes stolen away from the property
  • Damage to bikes while being used
  • Use of bikes in sportives
  • Use of bikes off road, or in competitions
  • Public liability while cycling

If you're still unsure, call your provider and check just what you're covered for. You may be able to extend your cover simply by specifying the bikes you want included, at least while they're on the premises.

If you've a substantial collection of bikes expect a raised eyebrow or two at the number and the total value. Insurance company folks just don't understand that the correct number of bikes to own is N+1, and N is the number you have now.

Third-party

It's definitely worth checking that any public liability element of your cover applies while you're riding. It's difficult to do really substantial damage to another road user or vehicle with a bike, but a moment of inattention could still land you with a bill for a couple of grand for bodywork repairs.

If your house contents cover is inadequate, find out how much it's going to cost to add your bikes, and just what they're covered for if you do. Are they insured outside the home? Does the cover pay out if you crash and damage your bike? Does it cover racing or sportives? Does it include third party liability and if so for how much?

Specialists

It might be worth getting cycle-specific cover from a specialist, if the extra premium for your bike turns out to be high. We've found 15 firms that offer insurance for bikes.

The amount you'll pay for bike-specific insurance varies quite a lot. For a £1,000 bike being used for commuting I found a range of prices from £71.04 to £99 in Cambridge or Leeds and £71.62 to £111.22 in London.

Lock it

All insurers require you to lock your bike to a solid object, and some specify the quality of lock you have to use. I'd never leave a bike in town with anything less than a Sold Secure Gold lock anyway, and if that means lugging around an Abus Granit, so be it. Having a bike stolen is far more inconvenient than carrying a good lock.

You can pay extra for various additions to the policy. Third-party insurance is an add-on for almost all policies, and is surprisingly expensive. I was typically quoted about £40 extra for cover of £5 million.

Cover for racing is also extra, as is cover for accessories on the bike such as lights, computers, tool bags and even your lock itself. Most of these things you'll take with you, but if you've installed a pricy hub dynamo system to your supercommuter, you'll want it covered.

Small print

One of the most potentially annoying bits of small print in cycle insurance policies is whether or not the cover is 'new for old'. The insurers may pay out less if your bike is older (typically more than three years) which is annoying if you've looked after it well and want to replace it with something just as good. Check whether the policy is new for old or whether any payout will be reduced by depreciation.

Taking your bike overseas? It may be automatically covered for a limited time, it may not be covered at all or it may only be covered in Europe. How it's packed for the plane may also affect whether or not the policy will pay up if the baggage handlers damage it.

Before you go shopping for insurance, then, draw up a list of the sorts of things you want covered. I ended up with a tab open for each insurer, and if I found a feature one offered that I realised I wanted I went back and costed it from the others.

Much as we'd love to rate and recommend insurers, Financial Conduct Authority regulations prevent us, as that would amount to offering financial advice. So it's over to you: tell us in the comments whether you have bike insurance, who with and what experiences you'd had getting paid.

Bike insurers

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

27 comments

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themartincox [553 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

I use Bikmo, more than happy!

 

 

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Leodis [427 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Bikmo seem pretty good to me, I've not made a claim but the personal email when I signed up from the gaffer was very welcoming, you don't get that from Cycleguard.

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Benjamin Nickolls [62 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Great article, I wanted to write this a little while back. I had some very interesting conversatiosn with the AA regarding my insurance situation while *using* my bike versus *racing*. It seems many insurers will say you're racing if the event is timed. Which of course most sportives are. Worth checking. 

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Yorkshire wallet [1904 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

WTF at those insurance prices. I've just been enquiring about getting another motorbike and my no claims etc. has lapsed. It was about £70 to insure a 50cc and only £120!!! to insure a 600 supersport. £100 to insure a £1000 bicycle. £120 to insure a 160mph motorbike.

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Rapha Nadal [826 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Yorkshire wallet wrote:

WTF at those insurance prices. I've just been enquiring about getting another motorbike and my no claims etc. has lapsed. It was about £70 to insure a 50cc and only £120!!! to insure a 600 supersport. £100 to insure a £1000 bicycle. £120 to insure a 160mph motorbike.

Look at the bigger picture though.  There's more data available in terms of standalone motorbike policies, loss frequencies, loss amounts, theft areas etc then there is for pedal cycles. 

If there's little data then premiums will always be a bit higher for the first few years until some kind of history is established and the whole thing settles down. 

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nniff [228 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Last year we changed our domestic insurance from one of the mainstream providers to a specialist, through a broker, who came round and had a thorough look at the house and contents and then provided a quote that was better than the mainstreams in terms of both price and cover. 

As far as contents goes, they looked at my bikes and noted the manufacturers (none of them are household names either) and looked at SWMBO's sparkles (which previously had to be itemised) and inlcuded them without question.   They were more concerned to see if there was a Steinway grand piano or similar in the house.

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frogg [140 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

Ha Ha Ha, when your bike is stolen, it's because

- was not properly locked,
- bad lock,
- not enough locks
- not properly insured,
- ha, you've lost invoice,
- you are imprudent,
- your bike draws too much attention,
- you can go walking,
- etc etc

 

But, it's not because the police/justice/system doesn't care an inch about the millions of bikes stolen each year, no no no ;

Quite the contrary, it's all benefit, you have to:

- buy a new bike,
- insure it properly,
- buy multiple locks,
- ...

Put it another way ; if it had to be stopped , it would be a long time ago.

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BehindTheBikesheds [1735 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

My mums bike was stolen from outside a care home where my nan and gt aunt used to reside and she now does a little choir/sing along thing with the residents.

The bastards ripped the drainpipe off the wall in broad daylight circumventing the lock, I bought it for her as a Christmas present only two years ago and it's her main mode of transport.

The main fear I have when I go back to my city of birth is that my bike will get nicked, compared to where I do live it's night and day and I feel blessed that I found a place to call home 20+ years ago that isn't full of nonces, deviants and scum who'd steal straight from their grannies purse low life wankers.

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ClubSmed [661 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
frogg wrote:

Ha Ha Ha, when your bike is stolen, it's because

- was not properly locked,
- bad lock,
- not enough locks
- not properly insured,
- ha, you've lost invoice,
- you are imprudent,
- your bike draws too much attention,
- you can go walking,

Bikes are stolen because they are not properly insured or because of a lost invoice? I am not sure that I follow that logic.

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LastBoyScout [429 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

The advantage of going through a trusted broker that you have used for many years is that they will fully understand your needs and recommend cover accordingly.

Have just renewed our buildings and contents cover and it's not with anyone you've ever heard of, but covers a number of high-value items, such as bikes and jewellery items including use away from home. In the case of the bikes, that includes riding them, as that's classed as "in use" - there aren't any restrictions on using them for sportives as far as I can tell in the small print.

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IanW1968 [366 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Pedal cycles are an minor risk on a small proportion of general houshold policies most of which cover housholds that dont have expensive bikes ,but they are the only risk on a bike specific policy.

So I would be very suprised if a bike specific policy didnt have more exclusions than a general houshold policy.  

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700c [1221 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
Yorkshire wallet wrote:

WTF at those insurance prices. I've just been enquiring about getting another motorbike and my no claims etc. has lapsed. It was about £70 to insure a 50cc and only £120!!! to insure a 600 supersport. £100 to insure a £1000 bicycle. £120 to insure a 160mph motorbike.

Push bikes are far more 'knickable' though.

It's frustrating but I've had to get a stupidly expensive home insurance policy which includes generous shed cover in order to cover the bikes.

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frogg [140 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
frogg wrote:

Quite the contrary, it's all benefit, you have to:

- buy a new bike,
- insure it properly,
- buy multiple locks,
- ...

Ha , and i forgot the taxes at every step of the chain ... no wonder why the system is so lazy !

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Canyon48 [872 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
Yorkshire wallet wrote:

WTF at those insurance prices. I've just been enquiring about getting another motorbike and my no claims etc. has lapsed. It was about £70 to insure a 50cc and only £120!!! to insure a 600 supersport. £100 to insure a £1000 bicycle. £120 to insure a 160mph motorbike.

Costs me £360 a year to insure my Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 8.0 and Whyte Wessex.

Costs me the same to insure my car as a young driver.

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part_robot [304 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Seriously? Cost me £1500 to insure my first car - a Fiesta 1.1 - as a young driver... What decade are you from?

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ktache [768 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Yes it is a shocker having to pay just less than 10% of the value of my bicycles every year, and the new one will add hugely to that, but it is peace of mind.  15 years worth now.  Just another one of those costs of doing one of those thing I truely love.

That and big locks of course, speaking of which has anyone got any experience of the Pragmasis 16mm chain.  Will it fit through my spokes?

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ktache [768 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

And don't forget we get 3rd party as part of the subs for membership of cycle organisations.

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rjfrussell [467 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
nniff wrote:

Last year we changed our domestic insurance from one of the mainstream providers to a specialist, through a broker, who came round and had a thorough look at the house and contents and then provided a quote that was better than the mainstreams in terms of both price and cover. 

As far as contents goes, they looked at my bikes and noted the manufacturers (none of them are household names either) and looked at SWMBO's sparkles (which previously had to be itemised) and inlcuded them without question.   They were more concerned to see if there was a Steinway grand piano or similar in the house.

 

Do you mind sharing who it was who provided you with such good service?

Avatar
Rapha Nadal [826 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

LastBoyScout wrote:

The advantage of going through a trusted broker that you have used for many years is that they will fully understand your needs and recommend cover accordingly.

Have just renewed our buildings and contents cover and it's not with anyone you've ever heard of, but covers a number of high-value items, such as bikes and jewellery items including use away from home. In the case of the bikes, that includes riding them, as that's classed as "in use" - there aren't any restrictions on using them for sportives as far as I can tell in the small print.

Try us.

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the nutcracker [26 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

ktach has it not occurred to you that 15 years of 10% of the value of your bikes is 150% of the value of all your bikes over that time. You'd be better off putting the money aside in a savings account and god forbid they all get nicked (highly unlikely) paying for them yourself.....if they dont get nicked youve got 150% of the value of your bikes sitting there in your account. (assuming u could afford to do it in the early years if they did nicked then). Insurance prices are a racket for bikes, for a start your giving the government 12% of the money in tax!!!. A good lock and common sense for locking one up and etc are much better insurance. Also anyone who isn't a proffesional bike racer is wasting money on spending more than £2k on a bike....and that price point is constantly reducing.  I can see why someone would have house insurance for example as most people cant really afford to replace all the contents & build a new house if theirs was burnt down. Also, its kinda important to have somewhere to live. Relatively low priced  items such as bikes, your getting taken to the cleaners and id rather take a flier. That said, i dont live in some dodgey london borough....altho im sure u probably get ure premiums doubled if u do so the point still stands!

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Bluebug [347 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
the nutcracker wrote:

ktach has it not occurred to you that 15 years of 10% of the value of your bikes is 150% of the value of all your bikes over that time. You'd be better off putting the money aside in a savings account and god forbid they all get nicked (highly unlikely) paying for them yourself.....if they dont get nicked youve got 150% of the value of your bikes sitting there in your account. (assuming u could afford to do it in the early years if they did nicked then). Insurance prices are a racket for bikes, for a start your giving the government 12% of the money in tax!!!. A good lock and common sense for locking one up and etc are much better insurance. Also anyone who isn't a proffesional bike racer is wasting money on spending more than £2k on a bike....and that price point is constantly reducing.  I can see why someone would have house insurance for example as most people cant really afford to replace all the contents & build a new house if theirs was burnt down. Also, its kinda important to have somewhere to live. Relatively low priced  items such as bikes, your getting taken to the cleaners and id rather take a flier. That said, i dont live in some dodgey london borough....altho im sure u probably get ure premiums doubled if u do so the point still stands!

Lots of people I know who don't live in "dodgy London" boroughs who have had their bikes stolen, have had them removed from their garages and sheds. In a couple of cases thieves have broken into their houses - they live in terrace houses - to steal their £1-2K bike from their shed in the back garden.

In dodgy London boroughs people are more likely to take an angle grinder or bolt cutter to your bike lock while it is locked up outside - and the bike can be a bike shaped object. Though with how some people lock their bikes and what they lock it with a wire cutter or a hard pull is often what is needed.

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tom_w [228 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

I'd say definitely don't get separate bike insurance unless you really need it to be separate from your home policy, it's much, much more expensive that way.

We use Pedal Cover, they do home content insurance that covers bikes properly - the only major exclusion was that they don't cover crits and DH MTB races, but they do cover sportives, enduro and tri's. 

They have a couple of neat tricks: They get round the underwriters' unwillingness to cover lots of expensive bikes by taking out policies with large excesses, they then also take out a separate excess cover policy to cover the difference between teh excess on the policy and the excess you actually want to pay.  That excess policy applies to any other excesses you have too, so you could then put the excess up on the car policy and reduce its price too for example.

You can also have different insured levels for the bikes at home vs. the value of the bikes you actually use at any one time.

All of that made their policy with all the bikes cheaper than my previous home insurance with no bikes.

They are also really friendly, very much recommended from that point of view.  We had a non-bike-related incident and they were very helpful with that.

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ktache [768 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
the nutcracker wrote:

ktach has it not occurred to you that 15 years of 10% of the value of your bikes is 150% of the value of all your bikes over that time. You'd be better off putting the money aside in a savings account and god forbid they all get nicked (highly unlikely) paying for them yourself.....if they dont get nicked youve got 150% of the value of your bikes sitting there in your account. (assuming u could afford to do it in the early years if they did nicked then). Insurance prices are a racket for bikes, for a start your giving the government 12% of the money in tax!!!. A good lock and common sense for locking one up and etc are much better insurance. Also anyone who isn't a proffesional bike racer is wasting money on spending more than £2k on a bike....and that price point is constantly reducing.  I can see why someone would have house insurance for example as most people cant really afford to replace all the contents & build a new house if theirs was burnt down. Also, its kinda important to have somewhere to live. Relatively low priced  items such as bikes, your getting taken to the cleaners and id rather take a flier. That said, i dont live in some dodgey london borough....altho im sure u probably get ure premiums doubled if u do so the point still stands!

Peace of mind mate, I know your maths works, but couldn't do it in the early years I was not as finacialy secure as I am now and really couldn't have covered the cost if one was stolen.  And it was Birmingham.  And your proposal only works after 10 years, couldn't predict the future back then, can't now.  I have very good locks, take very good precautions, you have to for the insurance to pay out.  It stings to have to pay out every year, but I'm guessing losing one of my precious rides would be a little easier knowing that I get a replacement, new for old.  Covers crashes too, and those can happen anytime.

 

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alansmurphy [1779 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

My AA home insurance covers up to a grand, in a shed and wants less bells and whistles info than I was happy to give them. Pretty cheap too.

Had one bike insured standalone and it was much cheaper than 10% of value.

Fortunately not had to claim but a couple of points about the 'putting premiums in a jar' point. It certainly doesn't work for years 1 to 5, if you have multiple bikes and if you put £500 in a jar the thief would probably have that to*

Or you'd buy wheels, a computer, a trip abroad

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madcarew [635 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

In NZ, but My AA home insurance covers my bikes at no extra cost. $10k cannondale himod. Excess in the event of anything is 10% of replacement value. Covers theft, damage, crashes, just not racing. 

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Pilot Pete [53 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

I’ve just taken out Pedal Cover insurance as it seems such fantastic value and covers everything! I have two Colnagos value at £10k each, a Scott Plasma worth about £2k and the wife and kids have various Giant Defys, a Giant Liv Flourish town bike plus various cheap mountain bikes. All in I valued them at  about £24k.

Having been quoted £400 pa to cover a £2.5k Pinarello some 7 years ago I’d thought it just not worth it until I looked at Pedal Cover. Just under £500 for all the bikes, at home, abroad, whilst in transit say on an aeroplane, against loss or damage, including excess insurance (so I get the full value) and it includes ALL clothing and accessories such as lights and Garmin etc.

The excess insurance is not just for this policy, I can use it on my car insurance should I have a claim...

So, we were paying over £200pa for buildings and contents and this policy covers more than our old did. We have made two claims in the last 5 years, so the policy price went up about £70. I cannot believe the extent of the cover for the price. A simple look at stand alone cycle insurance (Yellow Jersey) came out at £1000pa just for the Colnagos.

And the other great aspect? You do not need to ground anchor them at home, nor carry a 2kg gold secure lock around when you ride them. My simple little wire cable lock during a cafe stop is suffice. Why? Because they are cyclists providing insurance for cyclists - they know it is unreasonable to expect a roadie to carry a massive lock when out on a ride. Obviously if I left a £10k Colnago at the station all day with a wire lock and it got nicked they would have something to say about it, but they understand that nobody in their right mind would leave their expensive pride and joy locked with a cheap lock at a station whilst commuting! What a refreshing and sensible approach to risk/ insurance. I am mightily impressed.

PP

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Beecho [310 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Unless they’re locked in the shed (and properly locked to proper walk anchors in the shed), the best 3 bikes in our house are never locked up outside. Others live down the side alley, one especially shit one deliberately left unlocked, much in the way starfish sacrifice a limb every now and then.

I appreciate we’re lucky to have this space in Zone 2 London. Oh, and Bikmo, 200 sheets a year to cover 7 bikes, plus LCC memberships.