Insurance and cycling


It's a bit more complicated than that...
At Shaun's suggestion, I offer this guide to insurance and cycling.

There are lots of different types of insurance which may be relevant to cyclists. This isn't a comprehensive list, but tries to cover the main kinds available, and gives some pointers of things to think about when you are considering buying.

The two main types of insurance which almost everyone considers are:

Third party liability. Designed to cover your liabilities if someone sues you. It's included in membership fees for both CTC and British Cycling, and there are clubs which offer affiliate membership to one or the other for less than the full price of membership and which include the insurance cover. It may be included in the price of entry to some events. Holding this sort of cover is compulsory for many club rides.

A limit of £5m is common - which is enough in most circumstances to pay the compensation you could be liable for if you negligently caused someone an injury that paralyses them for life. Many household insurance policies will also have some level of liability cover, but this may be limited to only £1m and may exclude cycling (check the wording). Being exposed to this level of cost is extremely unlikely for a cyclist (which is the main reason why it's not legally compulsory) - but it's relatively easy to think of a scenario in which you could be.

Property insurance, covering theft accidental damage etc. Designed to compensate you for the cost of the bike. Most people have this to some extent via a household policy - a lot seem to pick their household policy specifically for this cover. Most policies will limit the amount of cover in total and for any one bike - so check the wording carefully - limits of less than £1000 are common. The cover comes under the contents section, so it is available to people who rent rather than own. If you shop around very carefully and buy a very high-specification household product it is possible to buy cover this way for very expensive bikes, including top-end tandems. Theft cover is also available standalone, but is often thought of as an expensive route.

If you've had an accident you may want to get Legal expenses insurance. Designed to pay for legal fees if you need to make a claim against someone else. Most people seem to buy a "no-win no-fee" policy after any incident if their lawyers think there's a reasonable prospect of success. Access to this sort of insurance is a benefit of membership of clubs like CTC. There is a decent chance that the law will change in April 2013 and will affect this kind of insurance - but at the moment it's not clear how.

Other kinds of insurance you may want to think about include:
  • Personal accident. Designed to pay out if you get injured. Not many people have this, and not many companies offer it specifically for cycling.
  • Breakdown cover. Designed to get you home after a breakdown or incident. Few people have this; at least one railway company offers it to ticketholders.
  • Travel insurance. Designed to pay out in the event of injury or financial loss while away from home. A standard travel policy may in some circumstances pay out if a bike tour has to be abandoned. Read the policy!
You need to do your own research. What's best for one person may well not be best for another. Prices can vary wildly. Different companies have different policy wordings, different levels of cover and different approaches to settling claims. Always read the wording of the policy carefully, with advice if necessary! If you break the terms of an insurance contract, the insurance company is perfectly within its rights not to settle your claim.

Disclaimer and declaration of interest: I work for an insurance company. I am not qualified to offer individual advice, and will not offer individual advice to anyone. This article is not designed as advice; it is intended to be a factual description. If there are errors of fact, please let me know.


Great post and I'm sure lots of people will find this useful. Thanks a lot. :thumbsup:


Here for rides.
Travel insurance doesn't just cover holidays.... ;)

Disclaimer and declaration of interest: I used to work for an insurance company. I'm responsible for arranging all the insurance at work. I am not qualified to sit the right way on a toilet. This post is not designed to offend, it is an attempt at lame humour whilst gently pointing out an error of interpretation in the OP. Smileys are included merely because srw is a bit smileyphobic and he weighs less than me.


A good information post, and the last comment about it not being compulsory is correct. BC include third party and legal support for claims (they have a good record with getting compensation where it really is someone else's error), and somewhere in the site there is a "comprehensive" offer to insure bikes as well. But beware, expensive bikes can be dearer to insure that cheap cars, so you have to weigh the risks and consider the value of the machine(s) you want to insure.
Just as an aside, a mate who keeps several motorbikes has insurance rated against the most powerful/expensive one, and the others for a nominal £30 each a year, simply on the basis that he can't be riding more than one at a time, and the £30 is theft from garage cover. Something to ask about when like most people there are several bikes involved!
The main message is, though, I think, in this litigious modern world, get some cover, just in case!


nothing in moderation
check if your home insurance policy covers you for personal liability. if so, it may well effectively work as 3rd party insurance (do check the policy document though).

my hsbc £2m liability through the home insurance should be fine for club activities, but this year they insisted on ctc or bc insurance :wacko:
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