Most of us involved in cycling and triathlon don’t really know the details of our insurance coverage until we learn the hard way after an accident or a theft. It can be a shock to find out one of the most expensive and important items we own, our bicycle, is not covered for the primary ways you actually use it. While after an accident, our primary concern should be our own health, one of the first questions out of most athlete’s mouth is “Is my bike okay?”
According to Seattle-based cycling attorney John Duggan:
- In a bike/car accident where the vehicle is at fault, the vehicle’s auto insurance should cover the cyclist’s medical costs and property damage. If the vehicle is uninsured or underinsured, your auto insurance’s UM or UIM coverage kicks in.
- In a bike/car accident where the cyclist is at fault, a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy could cover liability claims. An injury to the cyclist may be covered by the automobile’s personal injury protection coverage no matter who’s at fault. Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may or may not cover bike damage.
- In a solo bike accident, health insurance would cover your medical expenses. Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may or may not cover bike damage.
Bike insurance varies wildly between insurance companies!
Generally speaking, if you have a homeowner or renter’s policy that covers personal property, your bike will be insured in the event your:
- Your bike is stolen from your home, apartment or garage
- Your bike is damaged “beyond repair” by a natural disaster, fire, explosion, or meteor (seriously!)
Insurance companies may have specific exclusions in their policies for sports equipment, such as bicycles.
If you have insurance covering personal property, there will be a deductible. Deductibles vary depending on your amount of coverage; usually, the higher your deductible, the lower your payment.
So, say you have a $3000 bicycle. Your cat is playing with gasoline in your garage, and turns your bike into a crispy, twisted mass of metal and carbon (Hey, it’s now an “all-carbon” bicycle!). After having a long discussion with your cat about playing with gas and matches, you call your insurance company to file a claim:
- Your insurance company will ask you what was damaged. You will need to provide the year, make and model of your bicycle.
- The insurance people determine the “blue book” value of your pre-torched bicycle.
- The insurance company either sends you a check for the value of your bike minus the deductible, or they send you a letter to explain that your bike was damaged as an act of “negligence.”
Additional coverage for your bicycle or other property
Many insurance companies offer what are called “riders” (bicycle riders…get it?) These policies are additional coverage that can be purchased to protect specific pieces of personal property. If your insurance company does not provide riders specifically for bikes, ask them if there is another way to purchase coverage that would cover the three events listed at the beginning of this article. Note: most insurance companies will not sell you a bicycle rider unless you have a homeowner’s or renter’s policy with them. You cannot get this coverage a la carte.
The original bicycle manufacturer may also offer a warranty for the bicycle. While this normally covers manufacturer defects, some do cover damage from accidents. Call and ask your manufacturer about their crash policy.
Convincing your Insurance Company Your Bike IS REALLY Worth That Much
Although cyclists often joke that their bikes are worth more than their cars, the fact that you can’t buy insurance directly for your bike like you can your car or motorcycle, makes it a little less funny. Most insurance companies will balk when you tell them what you actually paid for your bike. Your policy may vary on whether it covers the original purchase price of the bike (minus deductible) or the depreciated value of your bike.
To get a depreciated value, you may need to go to one or more bike shops and have them give a written estimate at what your bike is actually worth. Also, keep your receipts from your original bike purchase including all the additional items (pedals, aerobars, cages) that you have added to it. Contact the bike manufacturer to have them quote a replacement cost. Ebay and Craigslist history of similar bikes may also be helpful.
Big Ring Bike Insurance
Big Ring is part of the Transamerica, corporation that provides various types of insurance products and other financial services. For a 2-year old bike worth $3,400 we were given a quote with an annual premium of $237.00. Coverage for that quote included a $100 deductible for bike theft and damage. For that price, other options were included at no-deductible and included:
- Ship & Ride: Bike covered for theft and damage during transit shipping as long as approved carrier and shipping instructions are used.
- Stranded cyclist: If you’re ever stranded due to a crash, breakdown or bad weather, Big Ring will reimburse you for up to $50 for transportation.
- Rental reimbursement: If a rental bike is needed, Big Ring offers rental reimbursement of up to $250.
- Helmet replacement: Up to $250 for a helmet if yours is damaged as the result of a crash.
- Cycling accessories: You can add coverage for any cycling accessories that are mounted to your bike: pedals, bike computers, power meters, etc.
Additionally, you can add rider injury coverage to your plan. One other option that Big Ring offers: USA Triathlon members get discount of close to 10%.
It was incredibly quick to get a quote, and you can enroll online as well. You just need your bike’s serial number. Not sure where to find it? Use this image:
Yet, another solution: Clipp
Clipp provides full coverage for bicycles, as well as accidental medical and a wide array of other insurance coverage for each purchased policy. Here is basically how it works:
For $99 you get a basic membership including $1,000 of bike coverage. You can purchase additional coverage at $15 per additional $1,000 of coverage you need. So if you have a $3,000 bike, you should purchase $129 worth of coverage.
Additional bikes can be covered at the rate of $25 per $1,000 worth of coverage:
For instance, if you have two bikes covered – one that is $3,000.00 and one that is $2,000.00 – your annual membership will be $169.00. If you have three bikes covered, one for $3,000.00 and two for $2,000.00 then your annual membership cost will $209.00.
Clipp’s membership is not all-encompassing. It does not offer liability insurance and it does not offer UIM or UM protection if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured at-fault motorist.
Currently, Clipp is not available in Arizona, but they promised to begin taking Arizona clients sometime this summer. They also stated that if there were a lot of people interested in purchasing coverage that they would try to speed up their underwriters.
Since we originally published this article, additional companies have started to offer bike insurance:
Bottom Line on Bicycle Insurance
Call your insurance company and talk to a claims representative (not a sales person).
- Ask them if your bicycle is covered if its damaged while attached to your car (not in it).
- Ask them if your bicycle is covered if you have an accident (either involving another car or solo).
- Ask them if you bicycle is covered if it is stolen from somewhere besides in your car or in your house.
If they say “no” to any of these questions, ask if you can purchase additional coverage to handle these events.
- Ask them if they pay replacement value or purchase value.
- Ask what your deductible is.
Accident Only Insurance
Accident Only Insurance is a type of health insurance policy that strictly covers expenses incurred from accidents (and not other health issues). It does not cover property damage to your bike, but if you don’t have any other health insurance is a fairly cheap way of covering your medical costs in case of a bike wreck that doesn’t involve an at-fault vehicle. There are multiple companies offering this type of coverage.
USAT Race Day Insurance
A one-day license allows an athlete to compete in a USAT sanctioned race without purchasing an annual membership. The $12 fee provides the athlete with excess accident insurance for that race only. This is strictly a medical insurance rider.
From USAT’s website as of 2/16/12:
“If an athlete is injured while participating in a USA Triathlon sanctioned event the following steps must be followed:
- Race Director completes an incident report form. The race director is obligated to report the incident to USA Triathlon. No medical claim can be filed with insurance until this report is completed. You can find the incident report form by emailing [email protected] for a copy of the form. The signed document should be returned to USAT immediately.
- Athletes must file with their primary healthcare provider (i.e. United Healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, traveler’s insurance, etc.).
- Athlete completes a medical claim form. For serious incidents or for athletes requesting coverage, either the race director or USAT can provide them with a medical claim form. The medical claim form along with all explanation of benefit documents should be sent directly from the athlete to the insurance company as indicated on the claim form. Please email [email protected] for a copy of the form.
- Athletes will pay a deductible. All athletes using USA Triathlon insurance will pay anywhere from $250 (two-hundred and fifty U.S. dollars) to $1,000 (one thousand U.S. dollars) out of pocket and possibly more for uncovered expenses.
- Coverage limitations. Be advised that coverage may not apply to each and every claim. Additionally, coverage only extends to participants that have purchased an USA Triathlon annual license or one-day permit and were injured through participation in an USA Triathlon sanctioned event.”
For full details click here
USAT Membership Insurance
As of 2/16/2012, same as Race Day Medical Insurance above.
You may purchase discounted insurance via Liberty Mutual for homeowners and car insurance. See USAT’s member benefit page for a full list of discounts.
USAT is also partnered with Adventure Advocates and Nicholas Hill Group to offer discounted health insurance and accident only insurance. These are additional fees and are not part of your default membership. See more details here.
Over the years, USAT membership changes as to what programs are available and what programs are automatically part of your membership. Make sure each year when you renew you review the full list of member benefits sent with your membership.
Although Triathlon is not book club or chess club and carries inherent risks and we’re all adults, keep in mind during races and out on the road riding it is possible you may be liable for accidents involving other vehicles and people if you are found at fault for an accident. Your race day waiver is for the race organizers not you.
DISCLAIMER:This article is for informational purposes only and should not be viewed as legal advice. For specifics about your insurance, please contact a licensed insurance broker.