A lot of people tend to focus on the perceived dangers involved in cycling – especially if they are not cyclists themselves. After all, most news articles they read are likely to focus on serious or even fatal accidents – but there is never a footnote saying, “meanwhile, thousands of cyclists rode their bikes today without incident”.
Regular cyclists are well aware that the risks associated with cycling tend to be significantly overstated – especially when balanced against the general wellbeing that riding a bicycle brings into your life, such as improved physical and mental health. Also, cyclists are able to manage their own risks – especially when it comes to choosing how and where to ride.
Membership costs less than the price of a cup of coffee a week.
But it'd be unwise to think that things can't go wrong. Despite one's best efforts, accidents can and do happen, and can have a significant impact on one's life.
So, what kind of insurance are you carrying against a serious incident?
When it comes to legal requirements, cyclists are much like pedestrians – there is no obligation to buy insurance.
This feeds back into the good old “pay yer rego” argument about cyclists, which I have dismissed as illogical, impractical and undesirable in a previous blog. It's true that, in certain situations, cyclists can cause injury to pedestrians or other cyclists. But there is no evidence that this is a problem that needs regulating (indeed, the last time a pedestrian was killed by a cyclist in all Australia was in 2006).
The majority of serious or fatal injuries suffered by cyclists (and pedestrians) are caused by motor vehicles. Hence the compulsory third-party insurance (CTP or TAC), which is important because of the immense damage cars can – and do – cause on our roads. (As for damage that bicycles might cause to cars, by way of scratches or dents – well, third-party property insurance isn't compulsory for cars, so there goes that “rego” argument.)
But that's not to say cyclists can't do themselves mischief on the roads. A slip on a patch of oil, a moment's inattention, a dog running in front of you, a dooring by a car passenger – mostly, you'd hope to get away with minor damage, but catastrophic injuries are always a possibility.
As I see it, insurance for cyclists breaks down into three concerns:
1. Insurance against personal injury
2. Insurance for damage or theft
3. Insurance against damage you can cause to other people or their property.
The tricky part is avoiding duplication. Some policies will cover one, two or all three of the above concerns - or only cover you in certain circumstances - so read those tedious booklets carefully.
I'm no expert on insurance – far from it – but I thought I'd mention a few places to start looking. I've used some of these products, but as the disclaimer goes, this advice is of a general nature – do your own research to find what's best for you.
1. Cycling organisations. Join Bicycle Network Victoria, Bicycle NSW or other representative organisations, and you're generally covered for personal injury, injury you cause to others, and damage you cause to other people's property. Membership costs about $100 a year – less than the price of a cup of coffee a week (which indicates just how low the risks are). But if you wreck your bike, you're on your own.
2. Sports cycling clubs. If you race, your Cycling Australia licence includes insurance. If you belong to a cycling club but don't race, there are cheaper CA options that still keep you covered.
3. Home contents insurance. Some household insurance policies will cover you for third party liability, or loss/damage of your bike (which might need to be specified). But an important warning – if you damage your bike while actually riding it, it may not be covered (as a friend found out the hard way). Also, for income protection, check out Rider Cover.
4. Bike-friendly home insurance. Cyclecover sees the world from a two-wheeled perspective, including business and travel insurance. Ideal for families or households with a shedload of bikes.
5. Bicycle insurance. Companies such as Velosure and Bikesure cover loss or damage of your precious treadlies. But it helps if they're monetarily precious – monthly fees plus the excess for a claim can soon wind up costing you more than a low-end bicycle.
Have you got yourself covered? Any other insurance advice?