Cyclists have been urged to get insurance by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the insurance body whose members last year made a combined loss of £1.2billion*. The ABI warns that failure to get adequate cover could leave cyclists facing high bills if they are injured in an accident or are found responsible for causing one.
Speaking to the BBC ABI spokesman Malcolm Tarling said:
"If you are a cyclist and you are involved in an accident the chance of you being injured are quite high,
"Some 230 cyclists a month are killed or seriously injured on the roads so there is a good chance you are going to be off work for weeks, if not months, so some sort of insurance to cover you for loss of income makes sense."
According to the Department for Transport's reported casualty statistics last year 111 cyclists lost their lives on Britain's roads with rural roads again proving the most dangerous places to ride. Cycling casualties have though dropped by 30 per cent on UK roads as judged against the DfT's own average based on the casualty rates between 1994-98 at the same time cycle usage has gone up by 20 per cent.
The total numbers of cyclists killed or seriously injured on British roads was 2771 in 2010 of which 2660 were seriously injured (up 56 on the previous year), 4627 cyclists were slightly injured. When judged against the 94-98 average per billion vehicle miles the number of cyclist killed or seriously injured has dropped by 40 per cent, although there was a 1 per cent rise in 2010 over 2009. In fact it is more dangerous to be a pedestrian on Britain's roads than a cyclist.
So, while cycling on Britain's roads might not be as safe as we would like it to be it is certainly safer than it was in the recent past.
Mr Tarling went on to tell the BBC that cyclists often underestimate the risks they face on the roads, in particular if they are in an accident where they are found to be at fault themselves.
"If you are a cyclist and you are involved in an accident and you are at fault for causing it you could be sued for damages," he says.
This could possibly amount to hundreds or thousands of pounds, he told the BBC.
"If you are cyclist you should always have some form of liability insurance. It is essential."
While we would say that personal injury cover and third party liability are definitely things that responsible cyclists should consider it might also be observed that Mr Tarling is possibly over-playing his hand here. According to a DfT study cyclists were found to be a fault in only 7 per cent of the incidents they were involved a fact reflected in the low premiums for such insurance.
If you are injured by another road user and they are at fault your expenses will be covered by their insurance company, if they don't have any insurance you can claim compensation through the Motor Insurer's Bureau a body funded by the insurance industry to compensate the victims of uninsured drivers. However, it should also be said that this is likely to a slow process and the compensation on offer may not fully compensate for your loss or suffering.
If you are unsure of the level of cover that you have as a cyclist it is first worth checking whether any of the extras provided in your home and contents policy or with any other insurance policies you hold. Some, though by no means all home contents cover includes bicycles, in some cases the cover is quite generous and will extend to use out of the home too. Likewise some home insurance will include personal injury cover and/or personal liability cover too again though there are big differences in the level of cover provided.
If you don't have any cover or you think the insurance cover you do have there are a number of insurance companies like Cycleguard offering policies which you can tailor specifically to your needs. Some form of insurance is also part of the package when you take out membership of cycling organisation such as CTC - third party cover; British Cycling third party cover + accident cover depending on membership type; or the London Cycling Campaign - third party and public liability cover. All of those organisations also offer extra insurance for you, or your bike.
*Source UK Insurance - Key Facts (pub: ABI, Sept 2011)
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.