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Nationwide explains why it made cycle helmets compulsory under its travel insurance

Building society says change introduced for “members’ welfare” and only applies to injuries a helmet could have helped prevent


Nationwide, the UK’s biggest building society, have clarified why they are introducing a requirement under the travel insurance provided to FlexPlus current account holders for them to wear a helmet while cycling on holiday.

As we reported yesterday, the change will come into effect on 21 September and was notified to the building society’s members who benefit from the insurance in a booklet outlining various changes to the cover provided.

> Cycling abroad and relying on Nationwide travel insurance? You'll need to wear a helmet, or you won't be able to claim

While there was some widening of coverage for cycling – previously, “off road biking” but cover now includes riding on “bridle ways and forest roads.” However, there is a new stipulation that a helmet must be worn.

Meanwhile, “BMX or [cycling] on downhill or extreme trails” is excluded.

In an email to today, Nationwide explained why it had decided to impose the requirement to wear a cycle helmet.

It said: “The change made to the policy concerning the wearing of bicycle helmets while cycling is intended to provide greater clarity regarding the ‘reasonable care’ we expect our customers to take while on holiday. This change is intended to help to protect our members’ welfare.

“Whilst we accept an individual’s choice to wear a helmet or not, there is an increased risk of head injury for those people who choose not to wear a helmet,” added Nationwide (although anyone who has followed the helmet debate will know that even academic opinion is split on that issue.

“As an insurer, we feel the requirement to wear a helmet when cycling is a responsible approach to encourage safe cycling for our members,” Nationwide went on.

But it clarified that “the change in wording applies only in cases where an injury resulting from riding a bike would have been avoided or minimised through the wearing of a helmet.”

We also asked Nationwide what the implications of the change to its insurance coverage were for people who use bike-sharing schemes, such as the Vélib’ scheme in Paris.

The building society said: “These bikes are treated no differently to any other cycle used on a trip.

“If a customer chooses not to wear a helmet and suffers a head injury as a result of a cycle accident, this would not be covered by the policy terms and conditions.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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