ABC reports a marked rise in the number of Australian cyclists taking out insurance in the Canberra area. It is thought to be a response to a recent case where a local cyclist was ordered to pay $1.66m in damages plus legal costs following a 2009 cycling incident which resulted in his friend sustaining spinal injuries after being run over by a car.
Canberra cycling group, Pedal Power ACT, say they have seen a 15 per cent rise in new applicants for the cycling insurance that they offer since the judgement. Their policy, which comes automatically with membership of the group, covers public liability for up to $20m and as they say themselves:
“This would normally cover the Mercedes that you might have accidently scratched – but in the most recent case would have covered the $1.7 million public liability payout identified in the Supreme Court decision.”
Earlier this month, we reported how David Blick and Michael Franklin were cycling alongside each other in a bike lane when Blick hit a wooden tree stake and veered into Franklin, throwing him into the road. Franklin was run over by a car and spent 28 days in hospital having pins and screws put into his pelvis and the base of his spine.
Franklin has only been able to return to work part-time. After initially pursuing the driver of the vehicle which ran over him through a third party insurance claim, he eventually sued Blick for negligence, concluding that a claim against the driver was unlikely to prove successful if it was shown the person had not been negligent.
Justice John Burns said he was “satisfied that if the defendant had exercised reasonable care he would have seen and avoided the piece of wood” and therefore ordered Blick to pay Franklin damages of $1.66 million as well as legal costs – a figure taking into account Franklin's loss of future earnings. In this case, the money came from a home insurance policy.
While it’s common to think of cycle insurance purely in terms of theft, it’s clear that there are other risks as well. Like Pedal Power ACT, UK organisations like British Cycling and CTC offer insurance as part of a membership package. Responding to the case, Roger Geffen, the campaigns and policy director at CTC, said:
“Normal cycling is not an especially high-risk activity, and cases like this are newsworthy exactly because they are extremely rare. However CTC would advise anyone who cycles regularly to make sure they are covered for the risks of causing serious injury to other road users, or damage to other vehicles. This is one of the benefits of joining an organisation like CTC – as well as being able to support our local and national campaigning to promote cycling and cyclists’ safety.”