Insurance firm says cyclists should treat bikes as cars when it comes to cover

Survey points to gap in cover - but some issues wouldn't be picked up by motor policy either...

An insurance firm is urging cyclists to treat their bikes as though they were cars when it comes to obtaining insurance cover after conducting a survey that found that 57% of cyclists injured while on their bikes said that the accident was their own fault. However, it’s unclear exactly how taking out insurance for their bicycle would help them in such circumstances.

Capita Insurance Services surveyed 1,000 adults and found that a third of those who owned a bike had been injured while out riding, reports the cycle trade website Bike Biz.

Commenting on the survey, 

Mark Boulton, a director at the insurance firm, said: “It would be unthinkable for a driver to take to the road in a car that was not adequately insured and cyclists should think the same way."

Leaving aside the issue that the owners of the estimated 1.5 million uninsured vehicles in the UK are unlikely to agree with that sentiment, the fact is that drivers are required by law to cover third party legal liability cover. No such requirement exists for cyclists, of course. But that wouldn't cover your own injuries in an accident that was your own fault.

Nevertheless, Mr Boulton insists: "If you run the risk of being injured and off work for a sustained period of time due to an accident on the road you may find that you do not qualify for full pay let alone the cost of replacing your bike.”

While it’s true that most drivers go beyond the minimum legal requirement and take out comprehensive cover which insures against damage to their car in the event of an accident, what a standard comprehensive policy won’t cover is their loss of earnings should they be injured in the event of an accident.

“This survey has been invaluable for us as a business to understand the extent of potential problems and the issues associated with cycling to work or for pleasure,” says Mr Boulton.

“Of those injured, the fact that 34 per cent said they had to take time away from work due to a cycling injury also shows this could pose a wider issue for employers.

“From our experience, a high number of cyclists believe that they and their bicycles are adequately covered by their home contents insurance however this isn’t always the case.”

He continues: “Our advice is for cyclists who regularly use their bicycles to treat them as they would a car – whether they commute to work or use their bike for pleasure. They should take a closer look at their contents insurance to ensure they are legally covered in the event of an accident. It may be the case that further cover is required.”

Reading between the lines, there are in fact three separate issues here.
The first is ensuring that your bike itself is insured against loss or damage, and certainly if you have a contents insurance policy, it’s worth making sure that your pride and joy is covered up to its full replacement value, including not just the cost of the bike but any add-ons such as pedals, lights, computer and wheel upgrades.

Secondly, and this is the point to which Mr Boulton’s advice to cyclists “to ensure they are legally covered in the event of an accident” presumably relates, there is the issue of third party liability insurance in the event that through your negligence, you injure someone else while out riding.

While this should be picked up by the public liability section of most household contents policies, many will exclude cover where the policyholder has been competing in sport, although here the insurance cover provided by British Cycling under its Silver and Gold Race membership would plug the gap.

That cover also applies to non-competitive cycling, as does British Cycling’s Ride membership and liability cover provided by CTC to its members, and both organisations also provide legal advice helplines to their members operated by experts in the law as it applies to cyclists.

The third issue in Mr Boulton’s comments is what happens when you are injured while riding your bike and are unable to work. That isn’t something that would normally be covered by a motor insurance policy if you were injured while driving, nor is such cover a normal feature of a household insurance policy.

In the event you were injured after a collision with a vehicle and it was the driver’s fault, you could legally be entitled to compensation, although obtaining recompense can be a costly and time-consuming process, and if no vehicle were involved, or if the accident were your fault, then there is of course no redress.

Although in some cases an employer’s group personal accident policy might cover employees for accidents outside the workplace, for peace of mind it may be worth exploring personal accident cover that would help protect your earnings should you be forced to take extended time off work as the result of an accident while riding.


Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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