Cyclists underestimate the risks of cycling on the roads says Association of British Insurers

Cyclists have been urged to get insurance by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the insurance body whose members last year made a combined loss of £1.2billion*. The ABI warns that failure to get adequate cover could leave cyclists facing high bills if they are injured in an accident or are found responsible for causing one.

Speaking to the BBC ABI spokesman Malcolm Tarling said:

"If you are a cyclist and you are involved in an accident the chance of you being injured are quite high,

"Some 230 cyclists a month are killed or seriously injured on the roads so there is a good chance you are going to be off work for weeks, if not months, so some sort of insurance to cover you for loss of income makes sense."

According to the Department for Transport's reported casualty statistics last year 111 cyclists lost their lives on Britain's roads with rural roads again proving the most dangerous places to ride. Cycling casualties have though dropped by 30 per cent on UK roads as judged against the DfT's own average based on the casualty rates between 1994-98 at the same time cycle usage has gone up by 20 per cent.

The total numbers of cyclists killed or seriously injured on British roads was 2771 in 2010 of which 2660 were seriously injured (up 56 on the previous year), 4627 cyclists were slightly injured. When judged against the 94-98 average per billion vehicle miles the number of cyclist killed or seriously injured has dropped by 40 per cent, although there was a 1 per cent rise in 2010 over 2009.  In fact it is more dangerous to be a pedestrian on Britain's roads than a cyclist.

So, while cycling  on Britain's roads might not be as safe as we would like it to be it is certainly safer than it was in the recent past.

Mr Tarling went on to tell the BBC that cyclists often underestimate the risks they face  on the roads, in particular if they are in an accident where they are found to be at fault themselves.

"If you are a cyclist and you are involved in an accident and you are at fault for causing it you could be sued for damages," he says.
This could possibly amount to hundreds or thousands of pounds, he told the BBC.

"If you are cyclist you should always have some form of liability insurance. It is essential."

While we would say that personal injury cover and third party liability are definitely things that responsible cyclists should consider it might also be observed that Mr Tarling is possibly over-playing his hand here. According to a DfT study cyclists were found to be a fault in only 7 per cent of the incidents they were involved a fact reflected in the low premiums for such insurance.

If you are injured by another road user and they are at fault your expenses will be covered by their insurance company, if they don't have any insurance you can claim compensation through the Motor Insurer's Bureau a body funded by the insurance industry to compensate the victims of uninsured drivers. However, it should also be said that this is likely to a slow process and the compensation on offer may not fully compensate for your loss or suffering.

If you are unsure of the level of cover that you have as a cyclist it is first worth checking whether any of the extras provided in your home and contents policy or with any other insurance policies you hold. Some, though by no means all home contents cover includes bicycles, in some cases the cover is quite generous and will extend to use out of the home too. Likewise some home insurance will include personal injury cover and/or personal liability cover too again though there are big differences in the level of cover provided.

If you don't have any cover or you think the insurance cover you do have there are a number of insurance companies like Cycleguard offering policies which you can tailor specifically to your needs. Some form of insurance is also part of the package when you take out membership of cycling organisation such as CTC - third party cover; British Cycling third party cover + accident cover depending on membership type; or the London Cycling Campaign - third party and public liability cover. All of those organisations also offer extra insurance  for you, or your bike.

*Source UK Insurance - Key Facts (pub: ABI, Sept 2011)

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.


scrapper [74 posts] 5 years ago

I already pay a significant amount of money for motor insurance
While I'm cycling , I am not driving my car and as a consequence the risk of me making a claim against my motor insurance is vastly reduced (nil)

So when will a forward thinking insurance company provide me motor insurance that offers an equivalent amount of cover regardless of whether I'm driving or riding !

They would most likely get my business ( without having to pay to advertise on confused.com)

Perhaps this is insurance that BC ought to consider as a member offer in a similar manner that the AA do to their members ?

jarderich [94 posts] 5 years ago

It p****d me off when I heard this on the radio today. Maybe if the ABI and the government tried a little harder to deal with the estimated 5% of uninsured drivers on the road then we wouldn't get the finger pointed at us.


Tony Farrelly [2911 posts] 5 years ago

That sounds like a really good idea to me scrapper

Jonathan Reeves [47 posts] 5 years ago

Does my 5 year old need insurance to ride her bike on the road? utter utter codswallop

plunt [2 posts] 5 years ago

This does not make sense from a business point of view. The last thing insurance companies want to do is give cover to high risk groups. They want to find a low to medium risk group, tell them they're high risk to stimulate demand, and let the premiums roll in. Insurance companies study statistics for a living. They know. Having said that, getting liability insurance, such as provided to CTC members, is so cheap there is no reason not to have it. It covers you against that one in a million chance mis-hap. I suspect it's cheap because any decent cyclist - like the ones that join the CTC - are precisely NOT the kind that would ride so carelessly that they expose themselves to being sued for damages.

Simon E [3121 posts] 5 years ago

Since injuries will be met by the driver's insurance or, failing that, MIB, as mentioned above. But isn't the number of uninsured drivers (apparently 1.7 million) a bigger story? Or pedestrians. Lots of uninsured pedestrians around these days.

But the regurgitated press release is really peddling the idea that cycling is dangerous; that we are negligent if we ride without a helmet, that we are only really visible wearing dayglo vests and that we should ride in the gutter so drivers can swish by 6" from the cyclist's elbow unhindered... until they have to slow for that queue up ahead. Crap 'reporting' if you ask me.

JonD [487 posts] 5 years ago

A similar article was on bbc news24 today - my OH would vouch for the fact that I was spitting feathers ! Completely mixed up the issues of increasing cyclists injured, 3rd party insurance, and personal injury insurance. No frigging surprise some prat from the insurance industry is making a fuss over how 'essential' it was..

Some years ago a builder was working for next door - managed to cut his arm badly. Fortunately ok, but couldn't work for several weeks - found when he came to claim to his personal injury insurance, couldn't get anything much back. And funnily enough, isn't there some trouble going on at the moment wrt mis-sold payment protection insurance ?

cat1commuter [1422 posts] 5 years ago

Remember looking at payment protection insurance for my mortgage. There were so many things listed that it wouldn't cover me for, that it was very unlikely that it would ever be any use. I'd be very skeptical that any personal injury insurance would actually be any use if I did get injured, and would probably be expensive. I have legal and liability insurance via the CTC.

Paul M [363 posts] 5 years ago

Various commenters suggest that you will be covered by the motorists' insurance, or failing that by the uninsured motorists scheme. Yes, but. You have to prove the liability of the motorist and the damage you have suffered as a result of their negligence. Apart from the possibility of your award being reduced for "contributory negligence" - and not wearing a helmet is likely to be a reducing factor even where a helmet would have made no difference in the specific circumstances - it could take you years to bring the case to settlement for you can be sure that while insurance companies just love to take your premiums, they really loathe paying claims. How will you manage meanwhile?

Some form of insurance does make sense. Adequate third party cover is automatic with membership of CTC or LCC, and you could buy a specific package for loss/damage to your bike or injury to yourself.

ps: if your small child causes an accident and someone wants to claim against her, you are right - it would not be her in court, it would be you, as her parent or guardian. The claimant may seek to show that you were negligent in permitting your child to be in that position in the first place. I am not sure whether LCC/CTC membership on a family basis would cover children but got to be worth asking.

daviddb [134 posts] 5 years ago

Insurance company tells us we need more insurance.

Hmmm......let me just think about this one.

OldnSlo [137 posts] 5 years ago

I'm waiting for the cycling license and bike MOT
announcement.... seriously though, insurers
have priced young drivers and quite a few
others out of their cars. which has caused two
problems - loss of revenue and uninsured drivers
- meaning - even more loss of revenue. so they
need another income stream and at a guess they've
got lobbyists working on the transport ministry.

However regarding insurance - how much is your
bike worth and what does it mean to you ? If its
a £5k italian work of art then accidental or
otherwise insurance might give you peace of mind.

usernameforme [53 posts] 5 years ago

i would worry about insurance for your bike getting stolen if it is an Italian work of art  20

elstado [17 posts] 5 years ago

I have insurance as part of my cycle organisation membership, it covers personal and 3rd party damage/injury. Really makes sense IMO as having insurance cover in the event of an accident is handy to cover loss of income, rehab etc. Even more so, depending on your local laws, if you hit someone or something and are liable for the damages.

In Western Australia (not sure about the other states) if you hit a pedestrian on a bike you are automatically liable for damages, even if the pedestrian was wearing dark clothes at night and stepped in front of you while you were cycling on a shared path. If you knocked them down and caused for example $30,000 worth of damages (medical, loss of income etc) then you are liable. Without insurance you would have no choice but to go to court and get a lawyer. For the sake of $70 a year it's a no-brainer to me.

jelder [11 posts] 5 years ago

Although this issue seems to have been blown out of all proportion by the insurance industry (I wonder why) it has highlighted an issue that I am sure is often overlooked. I got into cycling two years ago and am now commuting by bike regularly but I have never considered insurance other than for the bike. Having looked at the British Cycling website £24 a year for membership seems a small price to pay for at least some form of cover - plus the other benefits too. I will be paying my sub from now on. Thanks for highlighting the issue.