Bicycle insurance guide

Should you insure your bike on a home policy or buy dedicated bicycle insurance? Read our guide for the lowdown.

Key points

  • Decide between adding your bike to your home insurance or taking out a dedicated bicycle policy
  • Consider single-item limits and whether you need to make your bicycle a named item
  • Check whether you have personal possessions cover away from home - then make sure your bike and any gadgets are included under the terms
  • Think about the amount your bike is covered for - is it sufficient?

There's a lot to be said for riding a bicycle; it's cheap, it's healthy and it's an environmentally friendly way to travel.

But unfortunately, riding a bike can also leave you at the mercy of thieves.

More than half a million bicycles are stolen every year, according to the British Crime Survey.

That's a lot of frustration and inconvenience, but it's also a huge amount of money - a decent push bike doesn't come cheap.

So whether you want to buy a separate bicycle insurance policy or add bicycle cover to your home insurance, it makes sense to have some sort of cover in place.

Does home insurance cover my bicycle?

Many people assume that their home insurance policy will automatically include bicycle insurance, but this is not always the case.Bicycle-insurance

We've carried out research that shows just 9% of UK residents felt bike insurance was an important option when setting up home insurance.[1]

That means many people won't know if their policy includes their bikes.

Even if your two-wheeler is covered at home, most providers don't include personal possessions cover away from home as standard.

It's likely that you'll have to purchase this as an optional extra, but even then it's not certain that this cover will include bicycles.

Read the policy with care. If bicycles are not covered, it may be possible to arrange such protection with your insurer for an extra price.

Insuring possessions away from home

On 2 July, 2014, Gocompare.com analysed 319 home contents insurance policies listed on the matrix of independent financial researcher Defaqto.

The research revealed that - when personal possessions cover away from home was included on the policy - 50% provided cover for cycles away from home as standard, while 41% offered such protection as an optional extra.

It's worth exploring whether extending your home cover is the right option, and comparing this against the pros and cons of taking out a dedicated bicycle insurance policy.

Check your level of bicycle cover

If you have arranged protection away from home for your bike through your home insurance policy, you should also think about whether the level of cover you have is sufficient for your steed.

In Gocompare.com's July 2014 research, a large number of policies offered less than £500 of cover for a bike, although sums ranged from £149 to £10,000.

Owners of expensive, high performance bikes should speak to their insurer to arrange specific cover
Ben Wilson, Gocompare.com

A number of providers offered cover in different ways - for example, cover could be provided within the overall contents sum insured, or up to a certain percentage of the overall personal possessions sum insured.

"We urge people to check whether their bike is covered by their home insurance," said Gocompare.com's Ben Wilson.

"Cyclists also need to check the level of their sum insured against the policy excess to check that they have sufficient insurance to replace their bike if it gets stolen.

"We recommend that owners of expensive, high performance bikes speak to their insurer to arrange specific cover."

How to add bicycle insurance to your home insurance

When you shop for home contents insurance through Gocompare.com you'll be asked to estimate the total value of your possessions, then whether you need cover away from home for bicycles, laptops and/or any other individual items valued at £1,000 or more.Bicycle

If you request cover for a bicycle away from home, you'll be asked to provide details of the make, model and type (such as 'racer'), plus the frame size if you know it.

You'll also be asked the cost to replace the bicycle - note that this is as new (its retail value), not the price you paid for the bike or its current, used value.

Multiple bicycles can be added - you'll need to list each one separately.

Bicycle gadgets

If you're a really keen cyclist then you might have more equipment than a push bike and a helmet. You might be carrying some serious kit, like a GPS watch or heart-rate monitor.

In the event of a claim, insurers usually apply a 'single article limit' to items

You could take out a specific gadget insurance policy, but there have been criticisms of such products and it's worth thinking about arranging cover on your home contents policy.

After the bicycle insurance question in our quote process you can select cover for any other items away from home, perhaps to insure cycling gadgets - note that any individual item included in this section must be valued under £1,000, even though the total sum covered may be significantly more.

In the event of a claim, insurers usually apply a 'single article limit' to items. This is the maximum amount an insurer will pay for an item, and this may differ between item types as well as between insurers.House

Before you buy your cover we recommend you check that the limits provide sufficient cover for your needs. You can find this information in the policy summary.

Also think about whether you need accidental damage cover for your contents, an option you can include in our quotes process.

When you've finished answering these questions you'll see a handy table with a breakdown of the cover you've asked for which you can review before proceeding to compare quotes.

Protecting your bike at home

While bicycle insurance protects you if a thief does strike, it's obviously better to avoid having your ride nicked in the first place.

That will save you time, effort and even heartache if you're attached to your bike.

It will also stop you having to make a claim on your bike insurance or home insurance policy, which will help keep your future premiums down.

At home, keep your bike in a secure shed or garage and remember to keep that locked. If you can, secure your bike to something immovable, or even fit an anchor lock for extra security.

Research by Gocompare.com found that 14% of people in the UK generally leave their bikes unlocked in the garden - a sitting target for thieves.[2]

And once those thieves have been enticed into your garden by your unguarded bike, they might be tempted to look through your windows to see what else you've left out - leaving you at even greater risk of making a home insurance claim.

Whatever you do, keep your bike out of public view, especially if it's a particularly desirable model. Some bike thieves are opportunists but some are specialists, so keep your wheels safely out of sight.

Protecting your bike on the go

The challenges of protecting your bike when you're out and about are very different and you can never be 100% secure.

Take out adequate insurance, either by extending your home contents insurance or through a separate policy... Do this at the time of purchasing the bike otherwise you may not get around to it
Home Office security tips for cyclists

After all, a thug might decide to mangle your beloved bike if they can't steal it, showing how important insurance is even if you are careful about leaving it secured.

Never leave your bike alone 'just for a minute' while you pop into a shop - that's when opportunistic thieves strike.

Where possible, lock your bike to an immovable object, like a bike rack or bench. Bikes can often be lifted off signposts, so locking them there can be a waste of time.

Remember to lock both wheels and the frame of your bicycle to the bike stand - we've all seen bikes hanging forlornly because someone's pinched their wheels.

You should also ensure that you've chosen an industry-recommended lock - seek advice in a bike shop to find the best one for you.

"Bike theft is a common crime so insurers expect cyclist to take reasonable steps to secure their bikes at home and away," said Wilson.

"At home, we advise cyclists to keep their bike in a securely locked shed or garage and not leave it lying around in the open.

"Some insurance policies stipulate that particularly valuable bikes will only be insured against theft if they are secured to an immovable object inside a locked shed or garage.

"When out and about always lock up your bike when leaving it unattended, even if it's only for a couple of minutes.

"Use a robust, good-quality lock and secure the cycle through the frame and both the wheels to an immovable object.

"Remove small parts and accessories that can't be secured, especially lights, pumps and quick-release saddles."

By Felicity Hannah