Are you one of the many cycling enthusiasts on UK roads that enjoys feeling the wind in your hair or the thrill of soaring down a hill at breakneck speeds? Do you cycle to work come rain or shine, warding off cars and buses with a steely glare? Or perhaps you just nip to the shops on your trusty bicycle? Whichever your style, pedal power has its attractions.
For one thing, cyclists can save a lot of money on train fares and petrol, but they can also cut down on pollution and improve their overall health and fitness levels. So what are the downsides?
Put simply, bikes are attractive to thieves: last year 276,000 bikes were stolen, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). However, while bike theft is at its lowest for more than 30 years, it’s never been costlier for bicycle owners. That’s because the value of stolen bikes is at an all-time high: the average cost is £476, which is almost double the 2005/06 figure of £250.
As this data shows, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have the right cover to protect yourself and your wheels.
Why is bicycle insurance important?
Assuming that a bike is covered under home contents insurance is a mistake. While some home insurers will include cycle cover on their policies as standard, often the bike is only insured if it is inside the property or secured properly in an outbuilding like a shed or garage.
So if your bike is stolen from the back garden or when you are out and about, you will not be covered. For example, if the theft took place when you were out shopping for groceries or if it was locked up at the train station, your insurer is unlikely to pay the claim. But you can often extend your home insurance to cover your bike when it is outside the house.
That said, firms that offer specialist bicycle insurance are becoming more prevalent for the increasing number of cycling enthusiasts. Policy wording may differ, but most will cover your bike against theft – whether left inside or outside the house – if your bike is secured properly with an approved lock. If you don’t secure your bike according to their stipulations, your claim could be rejected.
Not only theft
The good news is that specialist bicycle insurance doesn’t only cover theft, but should also pay out for accidental damage or vandalism. You should check whether the policy includes any third party liability cover, just in case you injure another person or damage their car or bicycle.
The number of cyclists on the roads these days means that accidents are more common place, so it's wise to take out suitable insurance.
It doesn't matter whether you’re a casual cyclist with your trusty two wheels or a serious enthusiast with a custom racing bike that cost thousands of pounds – cycle insurance can be tailor-made to meet your needs.
Problems with cover
If you’ve taken out bike insurance, make sure you know the policy exclusions to prevent voiding your cover or the rejection of a claim. The most common exclusions are:
- If you use your bike for monetary gain, such as being a cycle courier.
- Any loss where you cannot prove you own the bike, so keep the receipt of sale.
- Any cosmetic damage won’t be covered – scratches and dents that don’t affect how the bike actually rides are not covered, for example.
- Any damage to accessories, like tyres or mud guards, unless the bike itself is damaged at the same time.
- Theft of your bike when you have not secured your bike properly.
- Any accidents that may happen under the influence of drugs or alcohol will void your claim.
Crime survey statistics in England and Wales from the Office of National Statistics. Correct as of 2017.
Top tips for cyclists against thieves
1. Get the best lock money can buy
You get what you pay for when it comes to locks, meaning a cheap lock will be little deterrent to a bike thief. In most cases, the more expensive a lock, the better it will be at protecting your bike from theft – D-locks are often the most secure.
Lock manufacturers have their own ratings for levels of protection and these can be read as an indicator of security. If you use anything other than an approved lock brand or level of security, then your claim will be rejected.
Look out for locks rated on the ‘Sold Secure’ scale – bronze, silver and gold – as these are approved by most insurers. However, as with any insurance policy, check your details to be sure.
2. Lock your bike properly, in the safest location
Make sure to attach your bike to something that can’t be moved or lifted, as your bike is only as secure as the thing you attach it to. For example, a mesh fence only needs a small pair of wire cutters to get through.
Never leave your bike in an isolated place, instead choose to lock it in a well-lit area that people pass frequently and, if possible, with CCTV near to your location.
You should also lock the wheels (if they are quickly removable) together with the frame, ensuring the D-lock is secure and close to the bike. Any manoeuvrability will allow the thief the leverage to break the lock. And removing any lights and the seat will prove an annoyance to any prospective thieves.
Remember that two – preferably different – locks are better than one, as this gives the thief more of a challenge and they will need more tools to prise the locks open. It is very unlikely that a thief will have the correct tools to break both a D-lock and a chain lock, and so a combination provides a formidable opposition.
3. Register and insure your bike
It’s important and necessary to register your bike with the correct company, as it will assist the police in identifying a stolen bike and boost the chance of it being returned to you. Several companies offer this protection for free, aimed at reducing bicycle crime, but bikeregister.com is the UK’s leading registration service and is used by the police.
A policy not only insures you against theft, either inside or outside the home, but will protect you from damage incurred from vandalism or accidents. In addition, you can insure for personal accident and public liability so that if you damage someone else’s property or person, you are covered.
Which companies provide specialist bike cover?
We want to show you as many insurers as possible, so that you can choose what suits you best. But, we can’t promise to show you every single insurer, because some insurers don’t want to be included on comparison websites.
We think a good bicycle insurance policy should cover you for theft of your bike, and provide new for old replacement and European cover. We prioritise the companies that include these things in their standard policy, so they appear higher in our list. The insurers who only offer some of these things in their standard policy appear lower down in the list.
E&L are specialist insurers with 80 years industry experience. Cover for Theft, Accidental Damage and Public Liability.
Insurance for training, travelling and racing. 60% multi bike discount, roadside recovery, race fee & wheel protection, replacement hire. Low, £100 excess. Bikes covered up to £50,000.
Pedalsure is a specialist insurer covering road and commuter cycling; features include liability, personal injury & accessory cover. MSM EXCLUSIVE: 15% off all policies. Free DataTag security system for bikes over £1,500
Assetsure offer comprehensive bicycle insurance designed to be flexible to suit your personal needs – cover is offered for bikes up to £12,500 in value & standard cover includes £100,000 in legal expenses.