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