Bike Riding Is a Great Way to Exercise and Go Green, but Remember to Properly Insure Your Ride
NEW YORK, May 22, 2012 — Throughout the country, cyclists are getting their bikes out of storage, tuning them up and hitting the road. Many riders are also taking advantage of the bike programs being held in May and June ranging from car-free routes to basic bike maintenance classes. But regardless of whether you are beginning to train for your first century ride, plan to take your kids for a nightly spin around the neighborhood or use your bike for transportation in an effort to live a little greener, it is important that you know the rules of the road and properly insure your bike, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
“As both a cyclist and an insurance educator, I know first-hand the importance of basic cycling safely and properly insuring your bike,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president, Public Affairs, and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. “It is heartbreaking when someone spends months picking out their perfect bike only to have it stolen the first day they use it. Fortunately, with the proper insurance you can at least replace the bicycle and get back out on the road quickly.”
Insuring Your Bicycle
A bike can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a basic model to several thousand dollars for a fast, light racing bike. In fact, in 2010 (the most recent data available) there was over $6 billion in bicycle sales in the U.S., according to the National Bike Dealers Association.
Fortunately, bicycles are covered under the personal property section of standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. This coverage will reimburse you, minus your deductible, if your bike is stolen or damaged in a fire, hurricane or other disaster listed in your policy. Under most policies, you would also be covered if the bicycle is stolen from your car.
There are two types of coverage for personal property:
- Actual Cash Value
Actual cash value reimburses you for what the bicycle is actually worth given its age. A 10-year-old bicycle, for example, would be valued at the cost of a comparable bicycle, minus 10 years depreciation.
- Replacement Cost Coverage
Replacement cost coverage reimburses you for what it would cost to replace your 10-year-old bicycle with one of like kind and quality at current cost. Replacement cost coverage costs about 10 percent more than actual cash value, but it is a good investment.
Homeowners and renters insurance policies also provide liability protection for harm you may cause to someone else or their property. If you injure someone in a bicycle accident and he or she decides to sue, you will be covered up to the limits of your policy. Most people have $100,000 to $300,000 worth of liability protection as part of their standard home or renters insurance policy. But higher limits are available to protect your assets. You may also consider purchasing either an excess liability or umbrella liability policy. These can be cost-effective way to raise your liability protection over the amount in your homeowners and liability policy. Your homeowners or renters insurance policy also includes no-fault medical coverage in the event you injure someone. This way, they can simply submit a medical claim to your homeowners insurance company without suing you. This coverage usually ranges from $1,000 to $5,000.
If you are purchasing a new bicycle, keep the receipt and call your insurance agent or company representative immediately. And keep in mind that bike accessories such as a helmet, pump, lights, saddle bag and clothing can add up and should be included in your insurance.
If you own a particularly expensive bicycle, you may want to consider getting an endorsement to your homeowners or renters insurance policy. A number of insurance companies have endorsements for sports equipment; some have endorsements specifically for bikes. The endorsement may have broader coverage and there will likely be no deductible. Your insurance agent or company representative can review your coverage options with you.
One of the best ways to make you are properly insured is to have an up-to-date home inventory of all your personal possessions. A home inventory can help you purchase the correct amount of insurance and make the claims filing process easier if there is a loss. The I.I.I. provides free, online software at KnowYourStuff.org
, as well as an iPhone home inventory app
While biking is a great way to get around town and get some exercise, it can also be dangerous. In 2009 an estimated 51,000 bicyclists were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes and accounted for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The I.I.I. recommends the following safety measures for cyclists:
- Protect your head: Never ride a bike without a properly fitted helmet.
- Make sure your bike is safe to ride: Your bike should fit you properly. A good bike shop can adjust your bicycle so that it fits your body comfortably, and check all parts of the bike to make sure they are secure and working well.
- Follow the rules of the road: Bicycles are considered vehicles on the road; therefore riders must follow the same traffic laws as drivers of motor vehicles. Always ride with the flow of traffic, on the right side of the road, and as far to the right of the road as is practicable and safe.
- Be predictable: When you ride, consider yourself the driver of a vehicle and always keep safety in mind. Ride in the bike lane, if available. Take extra care when riding on a roadway. Courtesy and predictability are key to safe cycling.
- Be visible: Always assume you are not seen by others and take responsibility for making yourself visible to motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists. Wear bright colors and have lights mounted on your bike if you plan to ride after dark.
- Stay focused and alert: Do not wear headphones as they hinder your ability to hear traffic. Be aware of your surroundings and ride defensively. And, don’t try to talk or text while cycling.
- Take safety classes: Bike clubs, bike shops and community groups offer a range of classes on everything from bike racing to cycling tips for children and the elderly. These organizations are familiar with the cycling challenges and opportunities in your neighborhood. They can provide an important source of safety information for the area in which you live.