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 replaced.

    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 incident.

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, etc.

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