Cycling travel insurance. Let’s be honest - it’s not the most exciting of things to organise before your trip, but it is important…
If you're going on a cycling-specific holiday, or just planning to do a bit of cycling while you're abroad, you'll want to know that you're covered should anything go wrong. If you have a cycling accident, it's important to know that your medical expenses will be taken care of and that any damage to your bike or other people’s property will be paid for.
Since we recently had to look at taking out cycle holiday insurance ourselves, we thought we’d share the points we thought about. We’re not experts on the subject, but hopefully these pointers will be of use!
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1. How to choose the right cycling insurance policy for you
We were quite surprised to find that there are many different kinds of cycling travel insurance policies - and that travel insurance doesn't always cover the kind of cycling you want to do.
Like bikes, not all policies are created equal – and what’s right for one cyclist might not be right for another.
For example, do you need standard travel insurance that covers your medical expenses as well as cover for your bike? Are you looking for cover for your bike at home? Are you after travel insurance for cycling holidays in Europe or further afield? Do you need an annual policy that covers events if you’re only planning to do one or two a year - perhaps you could take out insurance just for that/those events? Will your policy cover Covid-related cancellations or curtailments?
Different policies cover different things, so you need to know what you’re looking for - and what you've already got under other insurance policies.
(Not sure what cycling travel insurance might look like/cover? Our list of what to look out for in a policy might help (go here now).)
To help you pick a policy that works for you, below we’ve set out our thoughts on:
2. The big questions to ask yourself (before you compare bicycle insurance for travel)
Decide the answers to the five questions below before you start your research and it should save you some time. That’s because your answers may exclude you from being eligible from some policies, so these things should help you decide whether your current policies cover you and/or help you narrow down the policies you’re comparing.
1. How much cover is needed?
To make sure that you get quotes for the right level of cover, think about how much it would cost to replace your bike as well as any cycling accessories such as gadgets, helmets, clothing and additional wheelsets.
Also be clear in your mind about the sort of cycling you’re planning on doing, to ensure your policy covers you. For example, if you’re planning on entering cycling competitions, races or triathlons, and want to be insured for them, you'll want to make sure that you have the right level of cover, and can for example, claim back race entry fees if you’re unable to participate for any reason (but bear in mind what we said above about how many you’ll be doing each year).
2. Cycle trip insurance cover AND general bike insurance?
Some travel insurance companies require that, in addition to bicycle travel insurance, you also have general bike insurance for when your bike is at home. Or, you may be offered a combined bicycle insurance policy which covers both home and holiday.
Do you want/need this?
If not, you might want to look at a provider that will let you just take up cycle travel insurance.
3. Single trip cycle insurance or an annual policy?
Is your cycling holiday a one-off trip, or do you plan to travel several times per year? If you plan on cycling abroad more than twice per year, it often makes financial sense to consider an annual policy rather than a policy which only covers a single trip.
How long will your trips be for? You’ll need to make sure the policy permits the length of your trip.
4. Solo, couple, family or group cycling insurance?
When travelling with a partner, your children or a group of friends or family members, it can be more cost-effective to take out a joint travel insurance policy.
5. Where do you want to travel?
Consider the countries which you plan to visit and how long you will spend on holiday. Premiums can vary according to the countries that you visit, and you may have options to choose between cycling travel insurance for Europe only or worldwide cover.
(As an aside, the Foreign & Commonwealth office advises against travel to certain countries, and these are unlikely to be covered by travel insurance policies. So, be sure to check the FCO website for the latest travel advice.)
3. Do I need additional cycling travel insurance?
You might already have various insurance policies such as standard travel insurance, home insurance and specialist bicycle insurance for your bike at home in the UK.
You’re probably asking yourself: does travel insurance cover cycling? Do I really need a specialist travel insurance cycling policy?!
So, once you’ve answered the questions above and are clear on the general sort and level of cycling travel insurance you’re after, then check the terms of any existing policies to see what it covers and whether there are any gaps between that and what you want cover for.
If, after reading your current insurance policies, you think you’re not fully covered for the kind of riding you’ll be doing or your current policies don’t give you enough cover (e.g. things like lost/stolen/damaged bikes whilst riding sportives abroad, medical treatment needed as a result of a cycling injury, personal liability, cover for your bike while it’s in transit) then you should consider taking out further insurance, perhaps via topping up an existing policy or by taking out a specialist cycling travel insurance policy.
4. What should you check when comparing bike travel insurance policies?
So, you’re considering taking out some cycle specific travel insurance.
You’ll probably want to be sure that your cycle insurance covers you for every eventuality, to guarantee that you’ll get paid out should the worst happen.
Don’t just go straight in for the cheapest cycle insurance. It might be a bit time consuming and boring, but it’s better to spend some time taking a good look at the terms and conditions and policy wording to find the right insurance for your cycling holiday.
There’s lots of articles out there on what to look for in a normal travel insurance policy (things like medical expenses, hospital benefit, delayed/missed departure, delayed baggage, lost money/documents, legal advice). Since early 2020, it's also become important to check you've got cover for missed departure, early return home, medical expenses etc. due to Covid-19 (and be aware some eventualities might be uninsurable, so you need to cover them off in the agreement you have with your operator/accommodation provider).
Of course you’ll want to know you’re covered for all of these "normal travel" kinds of things, but below we focus on some of the more cycling specific things you’ll also want to consider:
Bike cover limits for theft/damage
Your bike travel insurance policy will have a limit if they have to pay out for loss/damage/theft of your bike and possibly also for any cycling accessories/gadgets. Check these are sufficient and the exclusions (more on those below).
You may be asked to enter an estimate of how much your bike is worth. To ensure that you’re fully covered we’ve been told it’s best to enter the value that you paid for the bike, assuming you bought it recently, rather than what you think it might be worth currently (you’ll probably underestimate it/would you actually be able to find one and buy it back for that amount?).
If you have more than one bike, you’ll want to look out for multi-bike insurance.
We guess it's possible you may have some non-road bikes that'll need insuring too so you'll have to admit if you have any mountain bikes, recumbent bicycles, electric bikes, trikes etc! E-bikes are something that many insurers raise premiums for.
Repair or replace
Carbon fibre bike frames have the advantage of being light, but they can also be easily damaged and expensive to repair. Can a repaired frame ever be quite as reliable, or safe, as a new one? Ideally, if your carbon fibre frame breaks, you’d want to replace it. So, check what your road bike insurance policy states about this and whether your cover is on a ‘new for old’ basis.
If you’re taking your bike on a train, plane or ferry, you’ll want to know that it’s covered should it get lost, stolen or damaged during the journey. You should be sure to pack your bicycle securely using an enclosed bike bag or box and to get a receipt from the carrier which shows that you have placed your bicycle with them.
Destinations and length of trip
If you’re planning a cycling tour of multiple countries, you’ll need to make sure that this is covered under your policy. Each policy may also have a limit to the number of consecutive days you can be away. So, if you’re planning on travelling multiple weeks, look for one with a higher maximum trip duration.
Cycling liability insurance covers your third-party liability as a rider, meaning that if you injure someone or damage their property, those costs should be covered. There is no legal requirement in the UK for cyclists to have third party cycle insurance. But, if (for example) you hit a car and it’s deemed to be your fault, these claims can be very expensive. So, it’s worth making sure that cyclists liability insurance is included in your quote.
See the section below for more information on liability where you're taking part in an event.
Cover for competitive cycling or racing
If you plan to do anything like cycle racing, time trialling, cyclosportives, gran fondos, triathlons or cyclocross, then you’ll probably want to make sure that you’re covered specifically for that. This should include third-party liability mentioned above, so that if you injure or damage a fellow competitor/their bike, as well as your personal injury, damage to your bike and kit and theft from transitions is all covered.
Some policies also include cover if the event you’re due to take part in is cancelled or if you get injured before an event and can’t attend. Particularly in the Covid era, it's important to check this detail; does your policy cover you if the event is cancelled due to Covid or travel restrictions would require you to quarantine? Are you covered if you or one of your dependents gets Covid or gets told to isolate?
Bear in mind that if you're doing a sportive or event, they will generally require you have a licence to take part (which often includes third party liability insurance). Don't assume that this licence will cover everything a cycling travel policy would cover (or that if you have the travel insurance, you don't need the licence - these tend to be a mandatory requirement for taking part in the event).
On a separate note: if you ride your bike for work or are deemed a professional rider, then you may need specialist cover.
Cycle breakdown cover
If your bike breaks while you’re on the road, how will you get back to where you’re staying? Roadside assistance isn’t covered as standard with many policies. But, if this is something that’s important to you, and you're going on a guided cycling holiday that doesn't provide a roving mechanic, check whether the policy you’re taking out includes it, and/or consider standalone bicycle roadside assistance insurance which can rescue you and transport you and your bicycle to your destination.
Alternatively, you may be happy with a policy that just includes taxi fare reimbursement in this situation. Again, the message is: if you want it, make sure it’s included in the policy you select! It's much better to be over-prepared for these eventualities than to not have suitable policies and find out you needed them.
Replacement cycle hire
Some policies include a benefit that means if your bike is stolen/lost/delayed or gets broken abroad, they’ll pay for cycle hire so that you can keep riding.
Repatriation for bike
If (heaven forbid) you have to finish your trip early/be repatriated, what will happen to your bike? Will your insurer repatriate that too? Make sure you check the fine print.
Insurance for hire bikes
The cost of flying with your bicycle can be expensive, so some people opt to leave it at home and instead hire a bicycle abroad. This can be cost effective, as for the price of buying a bike box and a plane ticket for your own bike, you could instead hire a fantastic carbon fibre bike worth twice the value of your own.
You may be able to get hire bike insurance from the company you hire the bike from, but the excesses can be hefty. Instead, you could take out a short term bicycle insurance policy to cover the hire bike, with a much lower excess. You’ll need to think about this though - be warned that standard bicycle insurance policies won’t usually include this, as they only cover against a bicycle which you actually own.
Medical expenses and personal accident
We’ve talked a lot about damage to your bike, but what if you damage yourself while riding? It’s important to check you’ve got appropriate cover for your medical expenses – whether under your normal travel policy, a specialist bike travel insurance policy or the EHIC or GHIC cards (but UK residents, bear in mind the EHIC/GHIC only gives access to state hospitals and things have changed due to Brexit, more info from the NHS, here).
Be aware that many of the bike insurance policies that aren’t specifically for travel don’t include medical expenses – there’s more detail on this distinction in the chart below.
Some cycling policies also include provision for a lump sum pay out where you are killed or injured when riding a bicycle. They may also help cover medical costs such as physiotherapy and dental work.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, many sports travel insurance providers have included a clause that states they exclude any claims relating to Covid-19. With this in mind, it's incredibly important you check the fine print when buying any cycling holiday insurance and compare cycle insurance across multiple providers to make sure you're happy with what level of cover you will receive.
Security requirements and policy exclusions
Certain bicycle insurance policies require that a ‘Sold Secure Gold’ lock is used whenever you leave your bicycle unattended away from home or that you have your bike tagged with a security mark. There may also be requirements about where you can leave your bike overnight. You MUST comply with these requirements or else the insurer may well not pay out if you claim.
Other points to be aware of:
There will undoubtedly also be other exclusions/loopholes/things to consider on your policy; insurance wouldn’t be the profitable industry it is if insurers paid out every time… Check your policy well, it's a minefield!
5. Cycle insurance comparison
It’s always a good idea to get a few quotes before you take out a bike insurance policy – that way you can compare the terms and pricing that are applicable to you.
Choosing a provider that’s also received a good DeFaqto score and/or has won industry awards can also be a useful indicator, though as you’ll have seen from the points above, the right policy for you is a very individual thing depending on your exact requirements.
We’ve prepared the table below which compares a few bicycle insurance companies at a glance. Don’t just rely on our table though – do your own research!
Finding the best cycle insurance: comparison between a few well-known providers
Note: by “normal travel insurance”, we mean travel insurance that provides things like medical expenses for you if you are injured and end up in hospital/insurance for baggage, travel delay etc.
Of course what's included in this travel insurance will vary with each policy and you'll need to check the terms are suitable for your needs.
As part of your checks, remember to look at the policy's Covid cover - there's considerable variety on who covers (or doesn't cover) what in the insurers listed below.
Likewise, the exact terms of the bike cover will also vary. Check the small print carefully.
Cover for your bike at home and abroad
(but not a normal travel insurance policy)
Cover for your bike abroad and at home - doesn’t include travel insurance for you.
* Laka premiums are a bit different to other policies: the monthly payment is typically around £19/month (£228/year) and it’s never more than £28/month (or £336/year).
normal travel insurance
(no cover for you/your bike if not travelling)
Travel insurance for you and also insures your bike. Separate policies available for insurance for your bike when you're not travelling.
Cycling UK offer discounted travel insurance through Yellow Jersey. This provides travel insurance for you and also insures your bike. You can buy an additional policy to provide cover for your bike when you're not travelling.
Travel insurance for you and also insures your bike. You can buy an additional policy to provide cover for your bike when you're not travelling.
This provides travel insurance for you and also insures your bike.
The figures above are based on each company’s top level of cover on 3 December 2021 subject to the following information (where requested):
This is a long article on what seems like a relatively simple subject - but it's pretty complicated and there's lots to consider.
Check the small print before you buy, and after you've got the policy, comply with it!
While choosing the right policy might seem a big hassle now, it’ll feel like nothing if and when you ever need to claim on it…
Which insurer do you use for your cycling insurance? Have you ever had to claim on the policy? How was it? Let us know in the comments below!