Bicycles and Insurance
As an ex-insurance agent who knows bicycles, I often get questions about how
bicycles and bicycle-related incidents are covered under insurance. This FAQ
is intended to be a general discussion of those questions, not specific advice
about what is covered under any particular insurance policy or how any specific
insurance company will handle any particular claim.
Policies differ by state, by company, and even within a company.
There is no way I can tell you exactly
how your insurer will handle any particular situation. I will not attempt to
second-guess your insurer's underwriters and claims experts.
If you have specific questions about your own insurance, do not rely on this
page for advice. Contact your own insurance agent or company.
How can I cover my bicycles against theft?
Both homeowners and renters insurance typically cover your personal property
worldwide against specified perils, generally including theft. There are
limitations and exclusions on this coverage, and these vary significantly among
different insurers and policies. One common restriction is that personal property
at a secondary residence such as a vacation home has a fairly small amount of
coverage -- if you want property at that location to be fully insured, you need
to get insurance on that location.
How much will insurance pay for my bicycle if it gets stolen?
This depends on the coverage you have.
The default for many policies is to pay Actual Cash Value (ACV) for personal
property. ACV is, loosely speaking, what the item is actually worth given its
age. A ten year old bicycle, for example, would be valued at the cost of a new
bicycle minus ten years' depreciation.
Replacement cost coverage for personal property values an item at the actual
cost of a new replacement item. That same ten year old bicycle would be valued
at the cost of a new bicycle of similar quality
But insurance generally does not pay the full value of the loss. Your policy
will typically have a deductible, maybe $100, maybe $1000, depending on what you
chose when you bought the policy.
To give a hypothetical example, let's say that ten year old bicycle is worth
$100 Actual Cash Value, but would cost $2,000 to replace with a new bicycle of
like kind and quality. Let's also say you have a fairly common deductible of $250.
ACV insurance would pay nothing on this claim -- the $100 value of the bicycle is
less than your deductible. Replacement Cost coverage would pay $2,000 minus the
$250 deductible, or $1,750. Again, this is a hypothetical case. Your insurance
company will have its own ideas about the Actual Cash Value and replacement cost
of any personal property.
If you do have a theft loss, your insurer may want you to document your claim
with evidence that:
- You really had the property that you are reporting stolen. It's a good idea
to take an occasional photo inventory of all your personal property, just in case
you need to make an insurance claim. Receipts are good to have, too.
- The property really was stolen. Do you have a police report, for example?
- The property really is worth what you say it is. You may need estimates from
bicycle shops, or prices from catalogs if it's a standard item that's easily
Finally, before reporting a theft claim, compare the amount you expect to recover
to the possible costs of the claim, such as a claims surcharge on your insurance
premiums for the next several years, and the possibility that you will not qualify
for standard homeowners coverage if you plan to buy a home in the next few years.
These policies vary dramatically by company and state, ask your local insurance
agent for advice.
How can I insure myself while bicycling?
There isn't a common Bicycle Insurance policy that is equivalent to auto
insurance. But various forms of insurance can cover you while bicycling.
Personal Property coverage under renter's or homeowner's insurance may cover
your personal property against a number of types of losses you may encounter
while cycling, including theft, vandalism, and being struck by vehicles.
If your bicycle is
damaged by another person, that person's liability insurance (e.g. auto insurance
if they hit you with their car, or Personal Liability coverage if they are on foot
or bicycling) may cover what they owe your for the loss.
The Personal Liability coverage of your renter's or homeowner's insurance
usually provides you with liability protection against claims caused by almost
any unintentional act, including unintentional acts committed by you or your
qualified family members, either on or off your premises. This Personal
Liability coverage can protect you from claims for injuries or damage you cause in
a bicycle accident, assuming of course that the incident was unintentional.
If you are a motorist as well as a bicyclist, you may be surprised to find
that the Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection coverage of your auto insurance may
provide coverage to you if you are struck by a car while bicycling or walking.
This coverage varies greatly around the country, so check with your insurance
agent to see what coverage, if any, you have while bicycling. In some states, you
may even be covered for lost wages while recovering from a covered accident, if
you chose that coverage when you bought your auto insurance.
If you have medical insurance, that will generally pay for any injuries you
suffer while cycling within the coverage territory of your policy. The company
may then subrogate, or pursue claims against, others who were at fault in the
Once again, this is a general discussion of some common insurance questions
related to cycling. This is not specific advice about any particular policy
or company. Consult your own insurance agent and the wording of your own
insurance policies for specifics.
This page written by Josh Putnam.
Please feel free to email questions, comments, corrections, suggestions,
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