Don't Have Bike Insurance? It Might Be Very Much Worth Purchasing

·9 min read
Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

As a cyclist, you may have heard about bike insurance, but dismissed it. After all, between health, auto, and homeowner or rental insurance, you’re already paying plenty to be insured and probably covered for anything that goes wrong, right?

The answer isn’t quite that simple. If you’ve ever wondered if you need bike insurance, we’ve rounded up all the information you need, from what’s covered to how much it costs to what you need to look out for when considering it.

What is bike insurance?

When you hear the term bike insurance, you probably think it refers to just your bike, covering it if it gets stolen, or if you damage it in a crash. Maybe you assume it’s not worth buying a policy because your bike isn’t worth much, or you assume that in the event of a bike wreck, it’s easier to just buy a new bike rather than paying premiums and deductibles and filling out endless paperwork.

That could be true (more on that in a minute). But there’s also more to bike insurance than just covering your bike: Like auto insurance, bike insurance can also help cover the medical costs associated with accidents and crashes as well as the cost of your bike. And in some cases, it even serves as liability insurance if you’re the one who causes a crash that injures someone else.

Why you might want bike insurance

If you have an expensive bike (over $1,000), bicycle insurance might be worth considering. According to Policy Genius, homeowners or renters insurance might cover a stolen or damaged bicycle—but at the depreciated value it’s worth now. So if you dropped $5,000 on a bike three years ago, you may only get a few hundred dollars back, depending on how the bike’s value has changed over time. There might also be a cap for how much your policy will cover. If you’re not sure what your homeowners or renters policy covers, check with your insurance company—you may be surprised about how much or how little they cover.

Some policies will allow you to dictate the value for your bikes, but that could raise your premiums. If you make a claim for your stolen bike through homeowners insurance, that could also raise your insurance premiums, so even if your bike is covered, between the deductible and the cost of a premium raise, you may not want to use homeowners insurance to protect your bike.

Can bike insurance cover repairs? Yes! It depends on your policy, but many include accidental damages (ahem, that time you drove into your garage with your bike on the roof rack).

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

Do other types of insurance cover bike-related stuff?

Good news if you’re reading this and panicking because you’re not covered: Most auto insurance and homeowners insurance policies will cover certain bike-related issues.

“When we buy automobile insurance, we are often purchasing insurance protection not only for the harm we may cause to other people with our automobiles, but also for automobile-related harms that we may suffer,” Lauri Boxer-Macomber says on BikeLaw.com.

If you don’t have a car or auto insurance but you ride, you’re lacking in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). Unfortunately, while this insurance is incredibly important, very few companies offer it if you don’t own a car—Policy Genius notes that in some cases, it’s shockingly less pricey to just buy a car so that you can access inexpensive auto insurance that will give you coverage for while you’re riding. (Auto insurance won’t cover damage to your bike but may help with healthcare costs.)

“The reason this coverage is particularly attractive to the cyclist is because it covers you even if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver while you are riding your bike,” cycling lawyer Bob Mionske writes on BicycleLaw.com. “I routinely advise cyclists who do have an insured automobile to purchase the maximum amount of UM/UIM coverage available.”

How does auto insurance work with bikes?

“Every car insurance policy covers you as a cyclist for collisions involving an automobile,” Ray Thomas, a partner with the firm Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost, told Policy Genius.

And according to NerdWallet, in addition to having UM/UIM coverage, cyclists with auto insurance in no-fault states (Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah) may also be covered by their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policies, which provide more extensive benefits like work-loss coverage.

What about health insurance?

Assuming you have health insurance, your policy should cover medical costs for injuries you sustain in a crash—but you may find that you have high deductibles, or that your policy has an upper limit, or that it doesn’t cover extra care like chiropractic or dental. This is where having Medical Coverage (also known as Med Pay) as part of your bicycle insurance plan is a good idea because it adds extra medical coverage including rehab coverage.

And... do I need life insurance?

Okay, this is where we’ll get grim for a second. Life insurance isn’t part of any bike insurance policy, but most bike lawyers recommend that riders carry some kind of life insurance policy in the event of a fatality. (And life insurance policies are typically between $250 and 500 per year, about on par with bicycle insurance.)

What you want to have on a policy?

It’s important to know what you want out of your bike insurance. When discussing your insurance coverage with an agent, ask them to spell out what your options are:

  • Does the policy cover your bike only at home, or anywhere in the state/country/world?

  • What medical expenses are covered? Remember, some cycling injuries like concussions can linger for years. Do you want dental? What about coverage for massage, physical therapy, and chiropractic after an accident?

  • Does the personal injury insurance include paid leave if you can’t work?

  • Are you planning on racing, and if so, does the policy cover event incidents?

  • What types of riding are you doing, and are they all covered? (Some companies consider mountain biking of any kind to be an extreme sport that isn’t covered, for instance—and that can include cyclocross or even gravel riding if you leave a marked road.)

  • Is accidental damage covered, and if so, what are the deductibles for accidental damage?

What companies offer bike insurance?

There are a few primary companies in the U.S. offering bike insurance, and it’s always worth asking the company you work with for auto, homeowner, or renters insurance if they have any recommendations or if they provide an in-house option.

Velosurance: Velosurance partners with the Markel American Insurance Company to cover cyclists in North America. They cover the bike itself, they have an AAA-style pickup service for roadside emergencies, and even cover your bike during travel. They also cover medical, including supplementing the deductible of your personal health insurance policy.

Sunday’s Insurance: This company covers the same things that Velosurance does, from bike theft to accidental damage to medical coverage. Bonus: Sunday’s also knows how expensive a kit is, and they even provide coverage for your bib shorts (and other parts of your kit).

Better World Club: This auto club now offers bike insurance as well as roadside assistance, though it specifically only covers mountain bikes, road bikes, and e-bikes. No BMX! The insurance has limitations: It covers medical (more than most other policies, actually: Up to $100,000) but it doesn’t cover bike theft, damage or accidents.

You should also check with your cycling club: Some clubs will have group policies that cover members, or offer cycling insurance as an add-on to your membership. If your club doesn’t offer this, you can suggest that they look into it: The League of American Bicyclists offers group policies to clubs on a per-member basis.

How expensive is bike insurance?

It depends on the value of the bikes you’re insuring and your state, but expect to pay between $100 and $400 per year. For example, a $4,000 bike in New Jersey would cost just under $20 to insure monthly (and would include all of Velosurance’s rider benefits as well). Velosurance has a comprehensive quote builder on its site, so check it for yourself!

Are you covered during an event?

Good news: USA Cycling-sanctioned events include insurance coverage for while you’re racing. While unsanctioned events sound sexy, they come with a scary caveat: They may not have insurance if you get hurt during the event. You may decide the risk is worth it, you should know going into the event what the insurance situation is. Not every unsanctioned race is uninsured: many have fantastic policies in place. As more and more races have stopped sanctioning races with USA Cycling, they’re also beginning to get their own insurance policies. But you do need to do your homework.

Are there any sneaky things to pay attention to?

Read the policy language closely to make sure you understand what your obligations are. Like we said, some policies won’t cover any off-road action, even though you consider your gravel route that takes a few ATV trails to be utterly un-extreme. Locking your bike up properly may be required to file a stolen bike claim. And check things like helmet use and even bike light usage: Some policies have fine print that requires riders to be wearing a helmet or using front and rear light, and if you skip those steps, you may lose out on a claim. Lastly, if you do purchase bike insurance, make sure you keep your policy up to date—which means adding your new bike to the policy the day it arrives.

Should I do anything with my bike right now?

Check your policies to see what you’re already covered for, and then look into bike insurance if you’re hoping to increase your coverage. But whatever you do, take a few minutes today and take photos of your bikes, including the serial numbers that are listed on the bottom of the frame, as well as your bike locks, storage area, and even your helmet.

Save these somewhere so that if you do need to make a claim eventually, you have photo evidence of your bike’s condition, your storage setup, and your helmet usage. It's amazing how helpful these photos can be—and they’re great to have on hand in case your bike gets stolen and you need to report it to the police.

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