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OPINION

I was knocked off my bike by a driver… and faced more than just a physical battle

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When road.cc contributor Emma Silversides decided to buy a car, she didn't anticipate this would involve extra stress because she was hit by a driver while cycling months previously

On top of the physical and emotional stress that came with being knocked off her bike, in this blog road.cc contributor Emma Silversides recounts another frustrating hurdle that she was forced to climb over following the incident last year. Here’s what happened when she tried to insure a new car…

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“While out on the bike in November last year, I was hit by a driver while going round a roundabout. The driver literally drove into my left side, and afterwards he stopped, as did the woman behind him.

He started to claim I wasn't visible, as the incident happened at night. The female driver who had been behind him as he came onto the roundabout was swift to support me: “How did you not see her? She is glowing, even I saw her and I was behind you”, she said.

Indeed, I had two front and two rear lights and fully reflective Proviz gear on. The driver quickly relented and handed over details. I was in shock but could move, which I figured was just bruising at first as nothing felt broken at the time. 

The following morning, when I went to stand up, my knee gave way. I went to the hospital, and the incident was reported to the police. The driver admitted fault and was sent on a driver's awareness course. 

An insurance company specialising in cycle claims, took up my case. Payment for repairs to my bike and equipment was paid out very quickly following the driver's admission of guilt. Sadly, my physical injuries are still being treated so the civil case is not yet closed. 

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At the time of the incident, I was actually car-less. I'd terminated my car insurance in August 2020 and sold my car, and the incident occurred in November 2020. Last week I decided to look into getting another car, and priced up insurance on one that I had my eyes on. With 24 years of no-claims bonus and a car with a humble value, the quote came in at £165… however, the payment for it was refused.

I was instructed to call the insurers, which I did and was told I hadn't provided ‘the correct information’. According to their database I'd been involved in an accident in the last 3 years! The agent cut and paste what the database was telling him (it was a webchat, so fortunately for him he couldn’t hear my expletives). To my surprise, this included the date of my cycling incident, the pay-out (for repairs) and the insurance company that paid out the money. Then, even more shockingly, my 'fault'. 

Two things pissed me off here. Firstly, I was not at fault! So why was it showing that I was? Apparently (and yes, many people I've spoken to were aware of this, even if I wasn't), until a case is closed, both parties are deemed 'at fault', even if one has admitted that the fault was theirs. Okay, I accept that. Indeed, the insurance company I was dealing with just wanted to see the letter (from my insurance company) documenting that the other party had admitted fault. They could adjust the premium accordingly, but wouldn't amend the 'at fault' part; this wouldn't change until the case is fully closed.

However, the second issue I had was that on this insurance database (that all insurers can access), nothing was mentioned about the fact that I was on a bike. How could this be affecting my premium given that I didn't even own a car at the time of the incident? This was an oversight on the part of the company paying out for repairs to my bike and kit. When I contacted them, they rectified and amended it without hesitation, but it did require me to send a letter proving that I was on a bike. Indeed, much of the documentation records damage to the 'vehicle'. This vehicle was named as a 'Decathlon Triban'. 

I don't really know how this error/oversight has been allowed to happen. I guess for anyone who doesn't know anything about bikes, a Decathlon Triban could be anything. I am much calmer about the situation now, but I do feel that whoever entered that information should at least know that a Decathlon Triban isn't a car! However, as cyclists we very much remain a minority on the roads. Part way through one of the many conversations I had in my efforts to resolve this, an agent said to me: “I’m so sorry that you were knocked off your motorbike".  

In short, I'd say for any cyclist involved in an incident and looking to make a claim, be aware of these things. Maybe people are already aware and I was just naive. A huge part of me was angry that not only was I suffering the physical consequences of a driver's careless actions, but it appeared that I was going to be penalised financially; even though I’ve kept a clean slate on my actual driving licence for 24 years. On the plus side, all the agents I dealt with were actually super helpful in explaining and resolving the issue.

While the case is still not closed, I have paid a premium in extra stress and admin that I wouldn’t have had to deal with if someone hadn’t have knocked me off my bike.”

Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling. 

After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing. 

Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…

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