Best bicycle insurance, including what you need to know and how to compare
Confused about two wheel insurance? Our guide should help you narrow down your search and work out what's best for you and your bike.
Whether your bike is for daily transport or purely recreational, we would all be bereft should it be stolen, crashed or damaged.
Even the lowest priced bikes don't come cheap, and to replace wouldn't be an easy option for most, which is why protection with the best bicycle insurance is a must have for every cyclist.
Here you'll find loads of advice on how to choose the right insurance policy for you. To make life easier, we've partnered with Protect Your Family on an insurance comparison engine to make sure you can compare all the deals out there and get the perfect match for you.
Whatever bicycle insurance you decide to choose, it's worth also ensuring that you have a one of the best bike locks for theft prevention. All insurance policies will require one to be used either at home or away, so even when you've just nipped in to the café too.
Best bicycle insurance
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We've answered the exact 'do cyclists have to have insurance?' question in a dedicated page to explain in more detail the rules and regulations when riding in the UK.
In summary, unlike car ownership, cyclists aren't legally required to have any form of insurance, either personal or liable in the UK or US.
This does leave you vulnerable to out of pocket expenses if you unexpectedly need to replace your bike, kit, or even liable to a third party expenses if you cause damage while on your bike.
There are two main ways to protect your bike and yourself, either via a specific bicycle insurance product or your home and contents insurance. There's pros and cons to both options.
If you are thinking about insuring an electric bike, head over to our specific page dedicated to the best e-bike insurance for all you need to know.
Bicycle specific policies
Opting for stand alone can be the best bicycle insurance choice as you can tailor it to meet your needs exactly.
The most basic level will cover your bike for damage or theft, while a more bespoke protection plan will cover your family, all your bikes, as well as other people, as it's likely to also include liability cover as standard.
The best bicycle insurance can also protect you and all your kit on race days, compensate for cancellations or illnesses, travelling abroad, and even replace like for like - a must have when owning an expensive bike.
Having personally had my first much loved road race bike written off by the low hanging obstruction Vs roof-rack method, this level of holistic cover from the best bicycle insurance companies is much appreciated.
Thankfully my story had a happy ending, I gained a replacement team bike that became my longtermer, but the cost of the damaged rack, roof of the car and fixing the overhanging neighbours porch was a pretty big one for the car driver.
The best bicycle insurance companies will give you an quote calculated on personal circumstances, the bikes you are riding and the sort of riding you'll be doing.
This means that if you are unfortunate enough to need to make a claim, the true value of your bike, kit and out of pocket expenses will be reflected, unlike most home insurance policies that will have a nominal pay-out just for the bike.
From personal experience, the value of this bespoke offering cannot be underestimated, after handing my insurance company the £20k bill after a bad race crash in China left me in a private hospital for a week, ambulance transfers and a couple of first class medical flights home. Thankfully it coughed up the full amount bar the phone calls back to home explaining my slight delayed return.
I'd learnt the hard way to ensure I had disclosed all details to the insurance company though. A year before I had a re-fracture of my clavicle while out on a training camp in Spain. I'd forgotten to mention that I'd previously broken my collarbone, when taking out the cover.
Unfortunately I didn't get a penny back from the hospital fees or early flight home. I'm also thankful to this day that I decided to return to the UK for surgery, rather than having it there and then in Spain assuming I'd be covered by insurance, as that would have put the debt to several thousands rather than hundreds of pounds.
In general bicycle specific policies will offer hefty discounts, such as 50 per cent, on additional bikes on the policy, or a multiple bike cover option, so it can work out more cost effective if you have a large bicycle collection.
Like home insurance, even the best bicycle insurance will require good theft prevention precautions are in place, but will probably cover the bikes in more locations, such as in a car or place of work. Some specific bicycle insurance will cover individual components, such as wheels, and also allow you to claim for clothing and accessories.
Home insurance policies
One of the easiest ways to ensure you have bike protection is to tack it on to your home insurance, as it keeps everything neatly in one policy.
While this is probably the best bicycle insurance for people who like to keep things simple, you should never assume your bike is covered by your home insurance, and if it does, be sure to read the small print on what, where and how much protection you are getting.
Many home insurance policies will provide some basic bicycle cover, it's likely to have a maximum claim per item, which can be as low as £500, which wouldn't get you far if replacing one of the best road bikes.
The excess may be higher than other household items, and, if you do have more than one bike, you may find there's a total claim value maximum on all bikes. So check for policy extension options that allow you to insure you bikes for closer to the true value.
The T's and C's of most home insurers is the requirement of additional theft prevention measures for bikes, especially in outbuildings, e.g. shed's and garages (assuming outbuildings are covered), so make sure you have one of the best bike locks for the job.
Many also don't cover your bike while it's away from home or when someone else is using it, so you may find yourself out of pocket if it goes missing at the train station. Again, you many find there are additional policy add on's that will cover you for these areas, but you will have to pay a extra, so worth doing a price comparison against a bicycle specific insurance policy.
Another important policy area to check for on home insurance is exactly what's covered by accidental damage and you should also check if it extends to your bike, either in the home or when riding.
Items that home insurance policies are highly unlikely to provide cover for are personal accident, bike damage at a mass participation event, such as a sportive or a race, and accessories, such as a bike computer.
Even if the value of your bike and all its accessories is minimal, therefore covered by home and contents insurance, the most important item to check your policy for is liability cover.
Some cycling club memberships, as well as British Cycling and Cycling UK membership in the UK, or USA Cycling membership in the States, will automatically provide liability insurance, but if you're not a member of any club, you need to ensure you have adequate protection.
Things to bear in mind when buying bicycle insurance
The big things with whatever bicycle insurance you decide to opt are keeping up with your end of the insurance deal. In practical terms this means:
Security: All insurers will expect you to have secured your bike to the best of your ability with one of the best bike locks used as a minimum. Wherever your keeping your bike at home, it's important to ensure you team a lock with the best bike storage solutions, especially if it's in an outbuilding (garage, shed or otherwise). It's likely that you will be required to use an anchor lock that's cemented in. If locking your bike while out and about, you will need to ensure the frame is secured to a permanent structure, so it's worth looking if you've attached it to anything that can be unscrewed.
While rarely a pre-requisite for the vast majority of even the best bicycle insurance companies, it's worth looking in to purchasing one of the best GPS bike trackers, which can help in tracking down and recovering your bike if it does get stolen before you need to make a claim, although always notify your insurance company if you do attach one.
Pre existing medical conditions: If you've decided to select a policy with personal accidental cover ensure you're upfront with all your previous injuries and ailments. It's unlikely to up your premium but it can effect payout should you require to claim.
Notifying the insurance company of any changes: This can be anything from a new bike to a change of address (more one to remember if you've opted for a specific bike insurance).
Exclusions: You will have hopefully established everything you are and are not covered for when you finally decide on a policy, but it's worth noting that most insurance, whether home or bicycle specific, won't cover you for riding your bike for work (commuting too and from is fine), or if you are deemed a professional rider.
Bicycle insurance compared
It is worth shopping around to get the best deal for you, as all insurance companies have unique selling points. There are several price comparison websites that help with the search process nowadays.
Price comparison websites are great for mass price checks, and mean you only have to enter your details in once. Protect Your Family's bike insurance comparison engine is an example of just enter your details and get a selection of policies to choose from.
There are also some independent brands which can be a good option if you are flexible with monthly outgoings. For example Laka acts like a community of cyclists who protect each other, with all cost of claims is split amongst members up to a fixed monthly amount around market rate (capped at the value of your bike) so your contributions are directly used to help other cyclists and in every given month you only pay for what is needed, so some months you pay nothing at all.
Top tip is to cut and paste your answers to the standard questions in to another standalone document, so that if you want to check a couple of sites, even price comparison ones, or even renewal shopping around, you have all the details ready to impute, remember to edit any changes in circumstances, value of bikes or new additions though.
But what if you've had an accident already?
If you've already crashed your prized machine and aren't covered by insurance, there is still hope at recovering some of the costs. Cycling injury and bike accident claim solicitors often work on a no win no fee basis with companies such as Cycle SOS and Alyson France specialising in cycling related accidents, helping you claim from anything such as a pothole crash to a road traffic accident.
Paul Darlington, consultant solicitor, Cycle SOS has this advice when choosing a cycling injury and bike accident claim solicitor: "The most important decision is your choice of representation. It's vital that you choose someone who knows about bikes and cycling as well as the compensation system. Access to a helpline which can give specific advice on your crash is invaluable. If you are hurt, seek medical attention and report the accident to the police at the earliest opportunity; the law says all injury collisions have to be reported."
Is it worth insuring my bike?
Do I need to have protection for even a really old bike?
As well as looking at the price comparison websites, it's also worth doing some basic spreadsheet maths at home.
"When we're looking at bicycle insurance, we think about what is the most likely scenario when we would or wouldn't want to claim" Says Rachel Sokal, experience rider and published cycling writer "for us that's is the house being broken into and more than one bike being stolen.
"To keep the premium down, we decided not to include our cheaper run around bikes as we would probably never claim for these as we would want to preserve our no claims discount.
" we also make sure that we have personal liability insurance to cover for any third party eventualities".
Does insurance cover bike damage?
This really is in the fine print of the Terms and Conditions, and it's important to read even the best bicycle insurance small print.
We've covered lots about the differences between the two main types of insurance policies above, and speaking to riders there seems to be a mixed bag as what and isn't covered damage wise at home or away.
Specific bicycle insurance companies will provide protection for your bike away from home. You will be required to disclose if you are intending to ride the bike competitively, eg in a Sportive or race, as failure to do so may void your claim if that's where your gear gets damaged.
"I had a pay out on my home insurance for damage for wheels on a bike that was named on the house insurance" Said former road racer Marianne Streather, "I just add them as listed on the house insurance".
What home insurance is a lot less likely it cover is if you damage someone else's bike, or them. So if you do decide on the home contents insurance, make sure you also have Third party liability cover from elsewhere, as mentioned above.
Hannah is Cycling Weekly’s longest-serving tech writer, having started with the magazine back in 2011. She has covered all things technical for both print and digital over multiple seasons representing CW at spring Classics, and Grand Tours and all races in between.
Hannah was a successful road and track racer herself, competing in UCI races all over Europe as well as in China, Pakistan and New Zealand.
For fun, she's ridden LEJOG unaided, a lap of Majorca in a day, won a 24-hour mountain bike race and tackled famous mountain passes in the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Himalayas.
She lives just outside the Peak District National Park near Manchester UK with her partner, daughter and a small but beautifully formed bike collection.
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