Specialist cyclists' insurance could save riders thousands of pounds


The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has warned cyclists of the possible financial costs of not having a comprehensive cyclists' insurance policy.

According to the ABI, bills of thousands of pounds could be imposed on people responsible for causing accidents or even those hurt themselves.

Cycling accidents

In the first half of 2011, accidents involving cyclists rose by 12% compared with the same period in 2010, according to the Department of Transport.

One rider from south Wales, Pepe Tozzo, recounted how he was hospitalised after his leg was seriously hurt as he cycled home from work.

Riding down a hill, Pepe collided with the side of a van that had emerged from a side road. He spent 1 week in hospital, 3 months off work and 1 year recuperating before his leg was healed completely.

As the van driver had no insurance or driving licence and Pepe was without personal injury and legal cover, the cyclist's costs soared.

"There has been a long lasting legacy," he says. "It probably knocked my career back by one year."

Cycle use in the UK, which legally requires no insurance, has increased by around 20% compared to the late 1990s.

However, with the number of accidents also rising, the ABI's Malcolm Tarling believes there is a strong case for all cyclists to have personal injury and third-party cover.

"If you are a cyclist and you are involved in an accident the chance of you being injured are quite high," Mr Tarling said. "Some 230 cyclists a month are killed or seriously injured on the roads so there is a good chance you are going to be off work for months. Some sort of insurance to cover you for loss of income makes sense."

He said cyclists often underestimate the risks, especially if they are found to be at fault in an accident. In such cases they could be sued for damages totalling thousands of pounds.

"If you are cyclist you should always have some form of liability insurance," he said.

Despite the ABI's concerns, many cyclists have no comprehensive cover, a fact Tom Bogdanowicz of the London Cycling Campaign puts down to an incorrect assumption that existing policies provide adequate cover.

"Household insurance policies are general insurance," he said. "They do not provide specialist cover, whether it's for theft or for 3rd-party."

"So if you go to a specialist insurer or to a cycling organisation to get cover specifically aimed at cycling, you benefit from that."

Susan Vanden of Simpson Millar LLP observed that while cyclists are more exposed to potential harm on ever-speedier UK roads, they are statistically less likely to cause the accidents themselves.

"It's this very vulnerability that means proper insurance could be vital," she said. "Around £40 per year will buy a specialist cyclists' insurance policy, which will provide 3rd-party or public liability cover – effectively covering the costs of causing accidents to other road-users and any damage to their property."

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