Cycling and insurance: all you need to know


You can get insurance for just about anything these days: your whisky collection, your pet, your cell phone – hell, even your legs, if you are Heidi Klum or David Beckham.

And – whilst not as strange – bicycle insurance coverage is also with that list.

But how, exactly, are you currently and your bike covered in the event of theft, liability, or damage?

“Under most home insurance policies, coverage is going to be deliver to a bike, up to a specific amount,” says Stefan Tirschler, product and underwriting manager at Square One Insurance in Vancouver.

“What many householders policies attempt to do is provide coverage for people's ordinary personal property. And usually speaking, it isn't uncommon for somebody to have a bicycle.”

Default coverage under home/tenant policy

So, for those who have a house, condo, or tenant insurance plan, there is a good chance your bike will be covered against theft and damage (even though there are some exclusions around this) just because a home or renters policy is supposed to protect your personal property – and a bike is simply that.

Some home and tenant policies will lump the bike underneath the personal property category, whereas others, like Where you started, will break bicycles out into their own category being an option.

“Instead of lumping bikes into personal property and saying all of us have to have bicycle coverage, we've removed bicycles from personal property and said you don't need to buy coverage for bikes unless you get one,” says Tirschler.

In nevertheless, in case your bike is broken in, say, a home fire, or stolen from your garage, you may earn a claim together with your home or renters insurance carrier.

How much are you covered for?

“Generally speaking, home insurance policies will have a sub-limit that applies to bicycles,” explains Tirschler. “It depends upon the policy that you're purchasing. It could be from $1,000 to maybe $5,000 per bicycle, unless someone desires to actually pay extra for additional coverage.”

If you've got a more expensive bike which sub-limit is too low, you can purchase additional coverage. In the same manner that home and tenant insurance firms offer “endorsements” (i.e. additional coverage) for such things as jewelry, additionally they offer extra coverage for bicycles. In most cases, you'll spend the money for same deductible on a bicycle claim while you would a traditional property insurance claim.

“So if a customer has, say, a $2,500 deductible on their own property insurance policy, and just the bike is stolen, that means that the bike really is only covered if the loss is in excess of $2,500 and when the policy limits works for the reason that example,” says Tirschler. This is exactly why it's essential to have a look at your policy, and see what exclusions you will find around bicycle claims.

But it's not only bicycle theft or damage that you can protect yourself against beneath your home or renters insurance plan. You might also need personal liability.

“It's reasonably well understood that most homeowners policies will cover the bike itself,” says Tirschler. “But I believe it's less understood that your homeowners policy will in fact contain liability for riding your bike.”

So, should you be riding your bike and negligently struck a pedestrian, causing them injury – and that person later decides to file a lawsuit you – you could use your home, condo, or tenant insurance policy for liability.

In cases where you receive into any sort of accident having a vehicle, however, the cyclist may need to go through his or her auto insurer for coverage.

According to Grenier Law, an Ottawa law practice focusing on criminal defence and civil litigation, “All cyclists in Ontario involved in car accidents get access to accident insurance benefits, even if the accident was their fault.”

“If you've car insurance, then you can affect your own insurance company. If you do not have car insurance, then you can affect the insurer for the driver who hit you. If the driver who hit you does not have auto insurance, then apply to the motor vehicle accident claims fund because the coverage of last measure.”

Fortunately, without having a house insurance or renters policy, there is one other way you can purchase insurance for the bike.

Third-party coverage via cycling organizations

Another way cyclists can purchase insurance coverage is through various cycling organizations, for example Cycling Canada.

Cycling Canada is really a national organization that negotiates an insurance program on behalf of provincial and territorial cycling associations in every province except for Quebec, British Columbia and Quebec (which have independent programs), plus the Yukon.

These provincial chapters, such as the Ontario Cycling Association, sell memberships to cyclists, who are able to then purchase insurance via the association.

“Beyond the provided member liability and excess personal accident coverage, members then also provide access to optional forms of coverage which can be purchased directly through our designated insurance broker,” Brett Stewart, head of finance and administration for Cycling Canada, told in an email.

Membership prices range anywhere from $45 to $55 a year, according to Stewart, and provide cyclists with general liability and excess personal accident activity coverage.

The insurance coverage is optional, and will cover cyclists against physical damage to the bike, theft, crashes, and accidental damage. “I believe the premium reflects a 4% the least the declared and supported worth of the bike / equipment with a $500 deductible,” said Stewart.

Exclusions around coverage

Of course, as with any insurance policy, there are exclusions for which a house, condo, or tenant policy will and won't cover with regards to bicycles. Unsurprisingly, you won't be covered if you intentionally cause harm to someone or someone's property. There is however a fascinating exclusion around damage coverage under many home and renters policies.

“Coverage might not react to loss or damage that occurs during the bike's use,” explains Tirschler. “Such as accidentally crashing the bike and damaging it.”

In short, when the bike is stationary when it gets damaged, you're probably covered. But when you crash it while riding it, probably not.

“Sometimes people misinterpret how broad that exclusion is,” says Tirschler. “They might think that means when they drive their bike to a cafe and then when they are buying their coffee it's stolen, it won't be covered. But that is actually going too much by using it. Because in that context, the cause of the loss would be theft, not actual use of the bike.”

“The really important question to ask your agent is: does my policy cover this bicycle while I'm utilizing it?” says Tirschler.

Another potential exclusion might be if you ride an e-bike or give a motor kit to your bicycle, which Tirschler says are becoming “incredibly common.”

The insurance industry would typically consider something that is self-propelled as being a motor vehicle. And traditionally, says Tirschler, self-propelled cars could be excluded from the liability coverage under most home and tenant policies.

“So in a case where someone were built with a bike plus they had perhaps a motor kit added to it – it starts to fall under a gray area,” he says. “So that's something which property insurance companies happen to be looking at.”

The most important step, says Tirschler, is double-check the language inside your policy to see if the motorized bicycle would fall into an automobile exclusion.

Another instance where your bike might not be covered within home or renters policy is if you utilize it for business, such as becoming an UberEats delivery person.

Lastly, because not everyone includes a home or tenant insurance policy, many cyclists, particularly those living and traveling in cities, might be putting themselves in danger.

“Renters in an urban centre who use their bicycles a lot, if they don't purchase a renters policy, additionally they don't have liability coverage for the cycling they do every day to and from work,” says Tirschler. “That's a significant feature that may be covered on the simple renters policy that may cost $12 a month or less.”