Copyright © 2010-16 Alec and Val Scaresbrook
Updated: Jan-March 2016. NB Most policies do not change substantially, but always read the small print, as minor amendments are often made.
UK cycling insurance – where to look first
Cycle theft/damage cover
Public liability/3rd party damage cover
Cycle cover for students
Comparison tables and weblinks
More detailed considerations:Things we consider when choosing cycle insurance
Annual shop around
Tip: Instant online quotes are very useful, but to avoid phone calls from sales people, don’t put your phone number on the form. Replace the digits with zeroes instead. You can edit the form later if you decide to buy.
Cycle theft/damage cover
For our 2016 renewal, Aviva contents insurance again provided the best price for our situation, even though pedal cycles are an extra. The cover is for bikes of up to £3500 value each), new for old, and automatically world-wide. Note that when you use their online quote system and want two or more bikes covered, enter the value of the most expensive bike, not the total values. You can use the online system for bikes up to £3500 each; for higher values you should phone. Find more information about cycle cover by typing ‘pedal cycle’ into the ‘search’ box at the top right-hand side of the Aviva homepage.
Public liability/3rd party damage cover
However good, general household insurance cover doesn’t often give public liability/third party damage cover, but this is available separately (from Cycleguard and Evans Cycles – see below) and is frequently included in cycle club membership – either the national Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC ) or British Cycling (BC), or local clubs (which are usually affiliated to one of these organisations). The London Cycling Campaign (LCC) also offers these benefits to its members.
Cycle cover for students
Another option available to some is insurance cover for students’ possessions, including their bicycle. In addition to specialists such as Endsleigh, there are general insurance companies that offer extended cover for possessions of a family member who’s away studying. So if you’re a student, ask your parents to check their home cover and consider changing their insurer if necessary to cover you. We’ve noticed that SAGA (if the main policy holder is 50+), and Aviva do this, and probably a lot more too. Of course, as ever, you have to read the policy document carefully regarding exclusions.
Comparison tables and weblinks
As we’ve ploughed through the policies (14+) and squinted at lots of small print to compare bike cover, wre thought we’d share the information in an overview of stand-alone cycle policies. All these companies give an online quote for quick comparison. Some of them also cover tandems, tricycles (trikes), recumbents, trailer bikes, and electric (battery assisted) bikes. If you can’t find cover or a price to suit amongst the specialist policies, scroll down further to try the links for general insurers, who could well have a more appropriate deal for you.
The links below are to the most useful insurers we’ve found, and some companies pay us a small commission for leads or sales. So if you visit any of the websites mentioned here, we’d appreciate it if you clicked through to them from this page, as any fees help to cover our time sharing the results of our research.
1. UK specialist bicycle/cycling insurers comparison tables:
- Cycle insurance compared: Who/what bikes are covered
- Cycle insurance compared: Locks/countries/extras
- Cycle insurance compared: Premiums/options/claims
- Cycle insurance compared: discounts
- Cycle insurance compared: Triathlon and other competitive riding/racing insurance cover.
2. Cycle insurance website links
- British Cycling
- Cycleguard Triathlon
- Evans Cycles
- Urban Cycling
- Protect Your Bubble
3. General home insurance cover and comparison websites
N.B. Aviva often has a good deal (but conditions often apply), with cycle cover possible as an extra. At the time of writing, note that the cycle value to state is the value of the most expensive cycle, not the total value of all cycles. When you use their online quote system and want 2+ bikes covered, enter the value of the most expensive bike, not the total values. There is more information about cycle cover in Aviva FAQ section – when on this page, type ‘pedal cycle’ into the ‘ask’ box.
Things we consider when choosing cycle insurance
- Diary date
- Is it worth it?
- New for old cover
- Security requirements
- What’s covered
- Breakdown help/rescue
- Personal accident/public liability
- Triathlon/competitive riding
- Professional riders?
- Cover abroad? Which country/ies?
We’ve learnt to put a date in our diary a few weeks before the renewal date, to give us time to shop around.
Is cycle insurance worth it? Perhaps the first question!
1. For budget bikes
We’ve had spare bikes that sometimes were not insured because the price of a premium would have been enough to replace them, or their low value meant they were already covered by our home contents insurance.
If an uninsured bike is stolen, it’s inconvenient and irritating, and there’s the lock to replace too, but getting another bike reasonably cheaply is a realistic option. Apart from the classified ads in local newspapers and online, there’s Argos, Amazon, eBay or Halfords, and even free bikes on offer from recycling groups (such as Freegle, and Freecycle Network (UK) – which is for all sorts of items, not just cycles).
2. For more valuable bikes
We’ve found comparing insurance premiums quite difficult, as every policy varies according to the postcode, and then covers slightly different things with different details (as you can see in those comparison tables above). There are various risks to insure – complete loss (theft or a bad accident) plus less dramatic damage or vandalism. And individuals qualify for different discounts depending on their age, occupation, club or trade union membership. The list is endless. About the only general conclusion we’ve come to is that adding cycles to house insurance is probably the best if the maximum bike value is appropriate, and that insurance offered by building societies and holiday companies seems to be more expensive than others when it comes to bicycles.
With general contents and specialist cycle insurance, online forms make it easy to obtain instant quotes for quick comparisons. (Tip: If you don’t want phone callers following up all your online quotes, don’t give your phone number. Just put a line of zeroes. You can always edit the form later if you decide to buy.) The policy documents are usually available to view online too, so we read them carefully (not the summaries or key facts but the actual policies) to make sure the bicycle cover suits our situation. Insurance comparison websites (e.g.Compare the Market, Confused, Go Compare, Money Supermarket, Tesco, Uswitch), can save time initially, sorting out the cheapest and most expensive, but then the work begins on delving into the detail to be sure they do cover what we need. Also, although they compare most of the big names, there is some duplication of comparisons, and some companies are not included e.g. Aviva, Direct Line and Rias.
Once we’ve decided on a policy, if the wording is a bit too obscure for us, we like to put our queries in writing so we can clarify cover for peace of mind, and can also keep the written response with our policy to avoid any disputes later if we do need to claim. This is easy with emails or online chat ‘help’ services.
The excess is the first amount of the claim that will not be paid out – the higher the excess, the lower the premium, so we sometimes decide to go for the maximum excess, and then compare again. Beware! Sometimes the excess is already set to maximum on simple website calculators to make the premium look good.
We can’t do much about this, but if we were planning to move, part of our housebuying strategy would be to compare various postcodes for one insurance company to find out which areas they considered a higher or lower risk.
We were once shocked to discover our insurer cancelling our cover after we moved house, as they did not insure addresses at our new postcode. Fortunately it was easy to find another company, but the premiums were higher.
New for old
The small print is revealing. If the bike is stolen or damaged beyond repair, but is a few years old, the company might decide to pay out less after deducting a percentage for wear and tear. Often this is 10% off the value each year, so an 11-year-old bike may not be covered at all. However, some insurers only deduct 50% at the most, so you need to check the small print.
A lot of specialist cycle policies specify exactly what type of lock to use for outbuildings and vehicles, and what type of lock to use to secure bikes when out and about. Unfortunately, in the light of research done on these A-listed cycle-specific locks (read our tips on reducing the risk of cycle theft), this could just give a false sense of security. Additionally, cycle accessories including locks have to be included in the total value covered, so these expensive locks push up the premium, especially as more valuable bikes have to have a higher rated (and priced) lock. However, some of the specialist insurers may consider approving other locks if you ask.
As we’ve mentioned already, general home insurance policies are often less stringent about the actual lock, and usually just state that the bike should be locked to a permanent structure, although they often specify the type of lock for buildings, and particular security measures for vehicles.
What’s covered as standard?
Or perhaps we should say, what’s not covered?
What risks are covered to the bike itself? Theft? Damage as the result of an accident? Damage to an unattended bike (hit by a vehicle when left locked up somewhere, or damaged by careless baggage handling in transit)?
What age restrictions are in place? Can you take out the insurance in your own name if you are 16+ or does a parent have to do this? What ages does the family option cover? Any age of owner might be covered for theft, but personal accident and public liability usually are only for those 16+, and payouts are restricted at the other end of the scale too, with certain benefits limited to those under 65 or 85, for example. There are also holiday/travel insurances with higher than usual upper age limits for cover, such as 75 years with annual cover from Aviva, 79 years with Club Direct, 80 years with single-trip cover from Aviva or no limit at all with Good to Go, Just Travel and SAGA, but do check that small print for exclusions. Also some comparison websites show cover not only for travel, but have sections for particular ages, such as Compare the Market,Confused , Go Compare, Money Supermarket, Tesco (tip: on Tesco website, choose bank section)), Uswitch, Yes . Money Supermarket compares travel cover for 65+, 70+, 75+, 80+ and 85+ age groups.
What about accessories and panniers plus contents? The specialist cycle policies we’ve seen usually only include accessories (ie removable bits – pump, lights, saddle, wheels…) when the whole bike is stolen or damaged. Cycle bags and contents are usually covered as luggage if you’ve got a home contents insurance with ‘away from home’ cover for personal possessions, but it’s something to check.
Most underwriters will insure most risks, so if something is excluded, contact the insurers to ask for a quote to extend cover. However, you might find the premium to be prohibitively expensive.
Just as there is car breakdown cover, there’s also roadside rescue and get-you-home help from various specialist cycle insurers (see the comparison tables above). There’s also a stand-alone roadside rescue ‘Cycleguard Rescue’ from JLT for UK only, not for punctures, that costs £18 p.a. (discounts for British Cycling members) and ETA Cycle Rescue for UK only from £18pa, although rescue is included free in their general cycle insurance (see the tables above). Puncture cover is included with ETA’s Cycle Rescue, as is 90 days European cover.
Note that rescue etc does not cover competitive use, or problems less than a mile from your home.
Personal accident and public liability
A payout for different types of injuries, and death, plus cover for damage/injury to third parties (i.e. not the insured person/people) is often included or an optional extra with specialist cycling insurance (above). However, it’s also possible to buy this cover separately. Check the geographical and age limitations for personal accident and permanent disablement payouts, and decide which level of third party liability you need.
If you don’t want to insure your bike and aren’t a club member who might have this cover as a benefit, you could consider Cycleguard Roadcare from JLT Roadcare or Evans Roadcare. These are identical as far as we can see (reading the 2015 wording for 2016 policies), which is not surprising since both are offered by JLT Online Insurance. Both of these cover UK residents world-wide when riding all sorts of cycles (including trikes, tandems, some electric bikes) and push scooters, and include road-based time trials with optional cover for other competitive riding.
Triathlon and other competitive riding/racing cover
Triathlon cover may be an option with cycling insurance policies, and certainly is with ETA (see the competitive use section in Cycle insurance compared: Who/what bikes are covered). However, there are some insurances specifically for competitors in cycling and triathlon events. See Cycle insurance compared: Triathlon and other competitive riding/racing insurance cover for a summary of their main features.
Only one insurance company mentioned here has an option for those earning their living from cycling, and that is Cycleguard, who will consider covering professional triathletes.
Cover abroad? Which country/ies?
Living in the UK means that territorial restrictions are only an issue if we want to take our bikes on holiday abroad. In the past, if we had UK-only cover, we used to arrange with our insurer to extend cover beyond Britain for the time we needed. But some no longer extend cover, so now we check when choosing an insurer. We had mistakenly assumed that the phrase in the policy (i.e. cycles not covered abroad unless agreed and a premium paid) meant that there was actually an option. Fortunately our current insurer (Aviva) offers worldwide cycle cover as standard.
When we weren’t able to extend cycle possessions cover abroad, we then considered the year-round travel insurance that’s a perk of our bank account. The basic cover excludes bikes, but it was still worth asking (the answer was no!). Then we looked at stand-alone specialist cycle/ing cover (as in the tables above) for a holiday coverage option. As we were going to stay in a rural area where the bikes would be fairly secure, eventually we decided to take the risk and not insure them.
Another alternative we have considered, more useful for when we have camping gear, is stand-alone holiday/travel cover with a cycle/ing option. However, camping gear cover is becoming more difficult to arrange, and getting prohibitively expensive as it is considered a high risk, so a couple of years ago (cycle-touring in France/Germany/Luxembourg) we tempted fate and didn’t insure the cycles or the camping equipment. Fortunately, we’ve never had to claim (touch wood). Perhaps we pick the right places to go, or are we just lucky? Anyway, with our current insurer (Aviva), this is now covered too (but presumable not when left unattended on a campsite…).
Unfortunately, most cycle insurance doesn’t help getting our bikes home after a medical emergency. Having folding bikes is useful in this situation, and there’s also cycle travel (on- and off-road) insurance from Citybond Suretravel (with 10% discount for CTC members using a promotional code). The insurance covers repatriation of your bike as well as you in medical emergencies, insures bike loss (in 2015, up to £3000 with £65 excess), including fixed accessories and removable parts), repatriates a damaged bike, covers cycle possessions, and personal accident/personal liability whilst cycling. You have to select the appropriate options and, of course, there are limits to this bike cover, mostly related to its current market value, so be sure to read the policy thoroughly.
In addition to the high premium, the list of exclusions can be as long as your arm, or your street, which is another reason why we’ve not always taken out insurance. OK if you’re with the bike all the time, cyclecamping, and travelling on the European Bike Express, or a ferry (e.g. Brittany Ferries, DFDS (who took over Norfolk Line and also run the ex MyFerryLink crossing), P&O). Eurostar is another possibility, as is the Eurotunnel but we’ve yet to use either with bicycles. Taking the bike on a plane means some careful reading of the insurance policy fine print to check if/how it’s covered.
Of course, once in mainland Europe it’s common to find secure cycle parking areas in cities, so we’ve been able to safely leave the bikes with their loads and do the sights without worrying about theft.
Stand-alone cycling holiday insurance (UK and abroad)
For a cycling holiday, we’ve looked at insuring ourselves (for accident and liability), and our bikes (as we take our own rather than hiring at our destination).
Upper age limits start to kick in earlier with adventure-type holiday insurance, so check this first.
Activity insurance that includes cycling
Lots of holiday insurers offer single or multi-trip cover that include cycling activities, with or without frills. Sometimes cycling is included, but cycle touring is not, or costs more. Sometimes you can opt out of some parts of cover (e.g. baggage) that you might already have with your contents insurance (under the ‘away from home’ section). Whether your bike is itself considered baggage, or an optional extra, or specifically excluded, is a very good question to ask the company before buying its policy!
For activities in remote or sparsely populated areas of many parts of the world (including some bits of the European continent), rescue insurance is vital as there’s no equivalent of a friendly RAF helicopter that will be scrambled to find you and whisk you off to hospital free of charge. No money means you’re on your own.
For activity holiday cover that includes cycling (sometimes including off-roading), there are quite a few options, although it’s important to check exactly what, if any, cover there is for accident and liability (and, if appropriate, rescue from places with little infrastructure). Columbus is one we’ve used (they also give you discount if you’re a Youth Hostelling Association (YHA) member). Other insurers we’ve found that offer cover when cycling (but, like Columbus, don’t insure the bike itself) are Direct Travel, Endsleigh , Flexicover, Go Travel, and Insurefor.
Travel insurance that covers cycles
Not many travel insurance companies insure your bike as part of the package – for this you need the specialist cycle insurers that extend their all-year cover to limited periods abroad, or the Cyclists Touring Club’s CTC Travel Insurance (offered by Citybond Suretravel) that includes repatriation of your bike in medical emergencies. The latest policy (Jan 2016) shows a maximum insurance of £3000 per bicycle, including accessories. Please note that this is a completely different policy to the CTC CycleCover listed in the comparison tables above.
For gap years, round the world tours, and other extended cycle trips, it’s a bit more tricky to insure yourself, let alone your bike. You may have to forgo the bike cover altogether, take a good lock, or sleep with your bike.
Ask your current insurer for a quote, and also look at ( CTC Travel Insurance (from Citybond SureTravel), for individual trips of up to 100 days or year-round travel,(and you can opt for bike cover too), or one of the Endsleigh Travel policies, which include gap year, long-stay and so on. Hover over the Travel tab to reveal all the options.
The British Mountaineering Council offer their members various world-wide policies (up to 12 months; baggage option £2,500-35000 but a single item limit of £500): Trek includes cycle-touring, Rock includes cycle-touring and mountain biking, Alpine & Ski covers both and cycle racing, as does Expedition. Don’t forget to add BMC membership to the total cost when comparing prices with other cover.
For longer trips and those where you don’t know when you’ll return, both Lonely Planet and Rough Guides recommend World Nomads . They provide ideal cover as you take out a single trip insurance for up to 18 months, and then just keep extending it while you’re away to a maximum of 545 days (18 months, ish) in total. They cover lots of activities including cycle touring, mountain biking, downhill biking although they exclude cycles themselves. As World Nomads’ age limit for cover is 65, don’t put off that adventure trip for too long!
Online insurance details
The great thing about online insurance is that it’s quick to get quotes, read the policy documents, make a decision and set up cover. You also have 14 days to change your mind and cancel, for whatever reason (perhaps you don’t like the small print, or you’ve made an error, or you’ve found a better policy).
Tip: The downside is that pdf files can freeze the computer, so once you’ve accessed these documents, save them on your computer as they are then easier to scroll up and down. Just remember that policies are frequently changed and updated, so look for the date of publication (usually at the end of the document).
Disclaimer – please note:
We’re not insurance advisors or brokers, and are not recommending a particular policy. We are merely sharing and summarising relevant information from our personal experience and research. Always check details with the insurer and read the policy details carefully, as there may have been changes since our last update.