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Thistle Insurance refuses to pay out for bike thefts on technicality

Bikes were locked to a cycle rack in a secure underground car park

The Guardian reports how an insurer has refused to pay out for the theft of two bikes even though they were locked in a store and the thieves used power tools to steal them. The newspaper describes a 19-page Cycleguard policy document as being ‘mostly filled with exemptions’. That policy and a second with Evans Cycles were both provided by Thistle Insurance.

Reader ‘AG’ wrote to the Guardian’s consumer team to get an opinion on two separate cycle insurance products – both supplied by Thistle Insurance – after around a dozen bikes were taken from an underground car park at their block of flats.

AG describes how the thieves broke into the supposedly secure cycle store.

“They used power tools to cut through the hinges of the security gates and removed them before cutting the locks of around a dozen bikes and driving away with them.

“I lost two bikes in this burglary. Both were secured – using Sold Secure locks – to a cycle rack through the back wheel (the only way they could be fastened to a rack of this design), with additional cable locks securing the frame to the wheel and the rack.”

Because the bikes were locked through the wheel first, rather than the frame, both insurance policies refused to pay out. However, AG felt that they had taken every reasonable precaution and that given that the locks were cut, alternative approaches wouldn’t have made any difference anyway.

The Guardian pursued the matter on AG’s behalf and eventually received the following response from Karen Beales, technical director at UKG, Thistle’s underwriter:

“In light of the fact that he has separately claimed on his household insurance policy, we have decided to refund SC’s premium [£136] for both his policies with us, and offer a further £100 compensation to reflect the distress this has caused. We will also review our policy documents to clarify the security requirements, to ensure there is no confusion in future.”

Earlier this week, we reported how Peterborough police were advising cyclists to carry parts around with them to avoid falling victim to ‘bike cannibals’ who strip the parts from locked-up bikes. Sam Jones, campaigns co-ordinator at national cycling charity CTC, said that the practice only highlighted the need for secure parking facilities.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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