With gas prices continuing to skyrocket, it is no surprise that more Americans are turning to bicycles as an alternative form of transportation.
In fact, bicycle riding is the third most popular outdoor activity among adults, with 12 percent classified as “frequent cyclists.” This number increases to 22 percent for children.
The basics of bicycle safety are well known—wear a helmet, utilize reflectors, and be visible and alert. But when it comes to insurance, many cyclists are unaware or misguided concerning the steps they can take to further protect themselves and their bicycle.
A specialized, stand-alone policy, bicycle insurance covers liability, loss, damage, and sometimes medical payments. Bicycle insurance provider Markel American Insurance Co. compiled five common myths and misconceptions about bicycle insurance that agents can use to educate their clients in order to protect themselves and their hobby.
Click through the following slides to learn more.
Myth #1: Homeowners’ policy will cover a stolen bike, and separate bicycle insurance is not necessary.
Though a homeowners’ policy can sometimes provide coverage for bicycle theft, some homeowners’ policies have low coverage limits for things like sporting equipment.
“There is a lack of awareness on the need for this coverage. Most people just assume they are fully covered under their homeowners or renters’ policies (as most people don’t read the actual policy documents they receive to know exactly what is and isn’t covered). In the unfortunate event of an accident, they are shocked to find out there may be exclusions on their homeowner or renters’ coverage and possible other limitations, so the cyclist may not receive the full value of the bicycle,” said marketing coordinator of Markel American Insurance Co. Lauren Hernandez.
Bicycle owners who fall victim to theft may be faced with much of the replacement cost for their bikes because of low coverage limits and high deductibles.
What’s more is that a bicycle claim could cause a person’s homeowners’ rates to go up. With a separate bicycle insurance policy, cyclists can protect their homeowners’ rates and protect their bike from worst-case scenarios.
It is the agent’s job to make sure that a client knows their options. By bringing a client’s attention to what is covered by their homeowners’ policy, they can determine whether or not bicycle insurance necessary with their current policy.
Myth #2: If my homeowners’ insurance company writes special coverage (an insurance rider) for the value of my bike, a stand-alone policy is not necessary.
Many clients are unaware that even if special coverage is provided in the policy, a stolen or damage bike can still cause a cyclist to fall victim to the homeowners’ policy restrictions as there may be exclusions on coverage or other limitations.
Bicycle policies can ensure spare parts and apparel are covered and can provide coverage while racing. Policies can often be customized to fit a cyclist’s needs. Roadside assistance, including emergency transportation, is an option offered by some providers.
Myth #3: If I buy the best bike lock on the market and I’m smart about storing my bike, it won’t get stolen.
According to the 2011 FBI Crime Statistics Report, a bicycle is reported stolen every 2.8 minutes.
While bike locks do deter thieves, it does not mean that a bike will not be stolen. Expert thieves can easily spot high-value bikes, and even with the best bike lock on the market, they know how to make a bike disappear.
Bicycle insurance can cover a bike anywhere at any time, giving cyclists peace of mind concerning the protection of their bike, but owners still need to be aware of their bicycles in order to keep them safe.
Hernandez suggests that agents provide their clients with tips and tools to keep their bicycle safe.
“One tip for avoiding theft is ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Keeping your cycle hidden from view is a great way to keep it from rolling away. Of course, always lock your bike to an immovable object with quality cables or U-Locks thru the frame and tires. Remember to remove anything that is easily removable, like lights or your GPS. Also something to keep in mind is storing your bicycle in an area that is dry and out of direct sunlight for prolonged periods. No one wants rotting tires or rusting component, and the sun can do damage that, over time, weakens the performance of some plastic or rubber materials.”
Myth #4: Bicycle insurance is expensive.
Bicycle insurance does not need to be expensive. Markel’s bicycle insurance policies, for example, start at $100, and the average policy costs between $250 and $300 a year. For a bike that is worth thousands of dollars, insurance expenses are nothing compared to bike replacement or repair if the worst should happen.
In addition, some carriers provide discounts for members of USA Cycling, USA Triathlon and other bicycling associations, lowering the cost for avid cyclists.
By showing clients that bicycle insurance is an affordable option, cyclists can take further steps to protect themselves by finding the policy that is right for them.
Myth #5: Only professional cyclists need insurance.
Amateur cyclists, triathletes, and anyone else with a love of biking could use bicycle insurance. Protecting against liability, damage or losses can further enhance the biking experience by providing a cyclist with the satisfaction of knowing their bicycle is protected.
Agents should explain to clients that bicycle insurance is important, despite the fact that they may bicycle recreationally.
“Most people aren’t professional racecar drivers, but we are required to carry auto insurance on our vehicles because in our cars, we are at risk for injuring other people, property or ourselves. Bicyclists are faced with similar risks on the road; and just because they aren’t racing, doesn’t mean they are immune from causing an accident or injury to someone else,” Hernandez said.
Bringing cyclists’ attention to the value of their bicycles can also ensure that they know the potential risks in the event of the worst-case scenario.
“When we ask our cyclists how much they have invested in their bike, they are often surprised with their answer—and just how much they’ve put into it. Many don’t realize just how much loss they may be faced with if their bike is stolen or wrecked” said Kerri Nguyen, marketing director for Markel.
Advise clients to be safe on the road.
Although cyclists should be covered by insurance in order to protect themselves and their bikes should the worst occur, Hernandez offers the following safety tips that agents can provide to clients, keeping bikers safe on the road:
- Ride within your limits–not your friend’s. While it’s good to stretch your skills, it’s not safe and not wise to push beyond your capabilities.
- Invest in quality locking devices. We’ve heard horror stories of bicycles taken from locked vehicles. It’s best to always secure your ride to an immovable object, even if it’s inside a vehicle.
- Join a bicycle federation or association. These groups or organizations work to promote bicycle safety and campaign for better conditions for all riders, both professional and recreational.
- Maintain your ride. Worn chains and tires are certainly causes of injury and further damage. Perform your own maintenance if you have the know-how or have it serviced regularly at your local shop to avoid these and other maintenance-related damages.
For cyclists—both amateur and professional—that love their bike, safety is a top priority. By educating clients, agents can allow cyclists to find more joy in their hobby, as they do not have to worry about the consequences of an accident or theft.