Do you need to take out cycling insurance? We outline the pros and cons, and help you work out what to look for.
While car insurance is considered a necessity, insurance for cyclists is still thought of as an optional expense. However, insurance could make a big difference if you have a cycling accident. Whether you ride your bike daily or just occasionally for fun, there are many reasons to consider taking out personal-accident insurance and third-party public liability insurance for cyclists.
Do you need a cycling insurance policy?
It’s important to think about the type of incidents that may occur while you’re cycling, and how you are covered for those. For example, although you may have access to a claim under public liability, you may not be able to access compensation for a period of several years. During this time you may have out-of-pocket expenses for medical treatment or extended periods of time off work due to the injuries you have suffered. Taking out personal-accident insurance and third-party public liability insurance can help you cover these potential financial difficulties.
As with any insurance policy, it’s important to read the fine print so you are aware of any issues that may void your policy. This could include things like riding a bike under the influence of alcohol, or how and where you use your bike. Similarly, if there are issues around theft or damage to a bike, where you kept the bike may be relevant, as could whether you took reasonable security measures.
What should you look for when shopping for a policy?
You'll find that many insurers offer a choice between basic cover and comprehensive cycling insurance. Your decision will ultimately come down to personal preference, however you should check that your policy covers three key areas:
- cover for personal injury
- causing injury to another party, and
- third-party insurance for property damage.
It's worth researching other aspects of insurance policies on the market, such as:
- the dollar limits on your coverage for each of the above key areas; this is often where basic and comprehensive cover differs
- the excess you will need to pay in the case of an incident
- whether your policy will only cover you or others who are riding your bike
- whether extras are covered that are relevant to you, such as custom parts or your car’s bike rack, and
- whether your policy will cover you for property damage to your bike, such as fire or theft; note that this may also be covered by your home and contents insurance.
Bicycle Network's member insurance provides many of these services, but you should research other policies to make sure that you're comfortable with the level of cover provided.
How do you make a claim on your insurance?
Following any incident, your first step should be to contact your insurance provider to inform them of the circumstances, and to discuss the details of your coverage. They will conduct an investigation into what happened and, depending on the terms of your policy, who should pay the associated expenses.
Should you have issues with the policy, such as a lack of coverage (where you believed the incident should be within the scope of your insurance policy), there are several avenues available. Firstly, you may request an internal review of the insurer’s decision, which will be undertaken by a senior case officer. If you’re still unhappy following the internal review, an application may be made to seek a review of the decision. Alternatively, seek legal advice.
Dimi Ioannou is a principal in Maurice Blackburn's Melbourne office.