Bicycle insurance buying guide
Cover for your bike and accessories, plus personal injury and third-party liability.
Secure your ride
Thousands of bicycles are stolen across the country every year. In NSW alone 6406 bikes were reported stolen in 2015 according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, and in Victoria 6221 bikes met the same fate.
Unfortunately, bikes can be relatively easy to steal and difficult to get back.
Bikes can also be dangerous, with around 5000 cyclists injured each year in traffic crashes. If you're injured while riding, it could be a costly exercise – particularly if you have to take time off work as a result.
This is where you might think bike insurance could come in handy. but with a long list of exclusions, and the chance you're already covered for some events under current insurance, you need to do your homework to make sure it's worth it.
What does bike insurance cover?
Different forms of bicycle insurance may provide cover for some, or all, of the following:
- Your bicycle (and accessories) – in case they're damaged or stolen when:
- at home
- in use/away from home/travelling
- Personal injury and loss of income – in case you're injured.
- Third party liability
- property damage – say you side-swipe a Mercedes on your way to work…that could get pricey.
- injuries – in case you injure someone else, such as a pedestrian.
You may find that you already have cover for some of these through other means (such as Medicare, private health insurance, life insurance and home contents insurance) and that a stand-alone bicycle insurance product may be over-insuring yourself. So what's the best way to insure your bicycle? And what can you do to help protect your bike against theft in the first place?
Cover against theft or damage
If you want your two wheels covered in case of theft, you'll still need to be diligent in looking after your bike. Many of the bike insurance policies we looked at had common exclusions for which theft wouldn't be covered. Generally, any accessories such as tyres and wheels won't be covered unless the bike is stolen or damaged in the same incident.
Theft also often won't be covered if:
- your bike was stolen from home but there isn't visible evidence of forced entry to your home/removal of your bike, or you were away from home for more than 60 days
- you didn't use an approved lock to secure your bike frame to an immovable object (whether you're out and about or at home). At home you can usually secure it in a garage, provided all the windows and doors are securely locked.
Choosing the level of risk you want to take on is a personal decision. Given that only 10% of stolen bikes are ever recovered, if you have an expensive bike, you may decide that insuring it is worth it. The cost of insurance will vary depending on the provider and what you're wanting to cover yourself for, so it's worth shopping around.
Using a good lock and attaching your bike to an immovable object is perhaps one of the best ways to reduce the risk of theft (although there's not much a determined thief can't overcome). That's probably why many of the insurers we looked at won't cover you if you haven't locked your bike to an immovable object with an approved or appropriate lock. It's good advice too, because according to Victoria Police and Bicycle Network, bikes that are properly locked are rarely stolen.
What's an approved lock?
Bicycle insurers may choose their own "approved locks", so you'll need to make sure your lock is covered under their product disclosure statement (PDS). The best locks are generally D-locks, according to Bicycle Network. Only one lock scored a perfect 10 in their 2013 test (published in RideOn), which involved taking a hammer, bolt cutters, cable cutters, a hacksaw and then an angle grinder to them.
- Go to tips to protect your bike against theft for more.
Cover for personal injuries and loss of income
Personal injury cover is often included in the array of bicycle insurance products on offer, and some businesses even offer it as a stand-alone insurance product. However, it pays to know just what's on offer here so that you're not over-insuring yourself.
In Australia, if you have to go to hospital, you can be treated at no charge through Medicare. However, Medicare won't cover your ambulance costs, and usually won't cover any dental treatment or physiotherapy if this is required as a result of your injuries. If you have private health insurance, depending on your cover, some of those costs not covered by Medicare may be met by your provider.
Many bicycle insurance policies won't cover costs that can be claimed wholly or partly through Medicare, or any costs that could be claimed through your private health insurance, if you have it.
Perhaps a more useful aspect of coverage provided by some bike insurers is loss-of-income cover. Again, be aware that a bicycle insurer may only pay any costs associated with loss of income that are beyond what you're entitled to receive through other insurance policies such as compulsory third party linked with vehicles, any statutory benefits, or income protection cover which often comes as an option with life insurance policies through your superannuation. In addition, if you mostly use your bike to commute, some states and territories (such as Queensland and the ACT) provide cover for your journey to and from work through workers' compensation schemes.
Cover for third party liability
Collisions between cyclists and pedestrians certainly can and do occur, however research suggests it's not a common occurrence. One study looking at pedestrian-cyclist collisions, which was presented at the Australasian College of Road Safety Conference in 2011, found the likelihood of a pedestrian being killed by a cyclist in Sydney is less likely than a person being struck by lightning and 700 times less likely than being struck down by a motor vehicle. In terms of injury, the study found that the likelihood of a pedestrian being injured by a cyclist was still a low-risk event – an occurrence slightly less likely than being killed in an airline crash.
That said, the risk still exists, so if cover for third party property and personal injury (much like the green slip for your car) is all you're interested in, Cycling Australia and Velosure provide stand-alone third party liability cover.
What's the best way to insure your bicycle?
Depending on what you want cover for, there are many different ways you can choose to insure yourself and your bike. There are numerous companies offering bike insurance, some as stand-alone bike insurance products and others as a supplement to a home and contents policy. Decide on what you want cover for, and don't pay for what you don't need.
Stand-alone bicycle insurance providers
- Real Insurance
- Swann Insurance
- NoWorries Insurance
- Cycling Australia
Home and contents plus bicycle insurance providers
Your home contents policy may cover your bicycle while it's at home, but it may leave a gap in cover when you're out and about. Many insurers offer portable cover for specific items away from home if you list them on your policy, which can be a cost-effective option. Some may even provide cover for any third party legal responsibilities in their optional supplementary bicycle cover, as well as cover for your bike when travelling or racing.
- Insurance House
Alternative insurance providers
Membership of a bike association such as Bicycle Network, Cycling Australia, or your state's local cycling group usually includes rider insurance, which offers cover for costs associated with personal injuries, income protection cover and third party legal liability. Cycling Australia also offers a cheaper option to purchase stand-alone third party legal liability insurance.
On-demand, or "micro-insurance", such as Trov, lets you turn your cover on and off through an app when and as you need it, and could be used to cover your bike when out and about. Bike insurance through the platform was still in the pipeline at the time of writing, but they were looking to have it up and running as a matter of priority.
Income protection cover (in case you're injured and unable to earn an income) is often offered through your superannuation fund or on life insurance policies. Some bike insurers offer this as a stand-alone product. Some states and territories also provide cover for your journey to and from work through workers' compensation schemes.
Deciding on bike insurance
- What do you want cover for?
- For injuries incurred when using the bike?
- For loss of income if unable to work?
- The bike for damage and theft
- When the bike is at home?
- When the bike is in use?
- When travelling or competing?
- Third party liability
- For injuries to third parties?
- For damage to property?
- For the bike?
- For accessories?
- For personal injury and income loss?
- For third party liabilities?
Tips to protect your bike against thieves
- Lock your bike to a fixed or immovable object using a high-quality lock (D-locks are usually best).
- Leave as little space as possible in the D-lock – the tighter it's done up, the trickier it is for thieves to attack it with tools.
- Ensure the keyway of the lock faces downwards.
- Lock your bike in a well-lit, visible and high-trafficked area and avoid leaving it overnight.
- Lock up your bike in different places so thieves don't notice a pattern.
- Secure or remove easily detachable items such as quick release wheels and lights.
- Have your bike engraved with your state ID number (e.g. driver's licence number). Some police stations and the PCYC offer free bike engraving. You can also register your bike on the National Bike Register by buying a DataDot kit and marking your bike.
- Photograph your bike, document its serial number (if it has one), make, model, size and colour.