Thieves love bicycles. Not because they’re healthy or good for the planet, but because they’re easy to steal. Top-of-the-range bicycles can cost well in excess of £1,000, yet are often left in unlocked garages or tied to a lamppost with a flimsy chain that can be cut in an instant.
Professional gangs are rumored to tour the streets with a small lorry and a heavy duty bolt cutter, with the aim of ruining countless cyclists’ days. Opportunist thieves can crack a lock and ride off in seconds.
More than 500,000 bikes are stolen every year, and the numbers are rising. If you have a bike, you need to cherish it as much as thieves do. That means treating it to a good lock and chain, taking care where you leave it, and insuring it properly.
Too many cyclists assume their bike is automatically covered under their home contents insurance, but that isn’t always the case. You typically need to declare it separately with your insurer, and pay an extra premium on top.
Dig out your policy to see what cover you have. Some insurers will only cover bikes if they are stolen from your home or a locked garage. Many will set a maximum limit on theft claims, which can be as little as £300. That’s no use if you whizz around on a titanium-frame racer worth thousands.
Others will charge a hefty excess if your bike is stolen, which might be anything from between £100 and £500. So don’t just assume your bike is covered along with the rest of your contents, or you could get a double shock if it is stolen.
Keeping it wheel
It isn’t that expensive to add pedal-bike insurance to your existing policy: you might pay around £20 a year. But again, check what cover you are getting for that - and what you’re not getting.
Some insurers will flatly refuse to cover your bike away from your home.
Others may insist it is kept in a locked garage and expect to see signs of forced entry, or again, they will reject any claim. You can add your bike to your home contents insurance policy at any time. If you are shopping around for a better deal on your household insurance policy, remember to get a quote for protecting the bike.
The bicycle thieves
Even after you’ve bought cover to protect your bike away from home, you still need to take good care of it. Your insurer will expect you to take reasonable precautions to deter thieves, such as locking it to a fixed point such as a bike rack or fixed barrier, otherwise it may refuse to pay any claim.
And think twice before lending your bike to a friend or family member, most insurers will only pay out for loss or damage if it was being used by a named policyholder at the time. If someone else wants to get on your bike, you need to name them on your policy, just as if they were driving your car.
If you ride a sporty mountain bike and racer and want better cover than your household insurer is offering, then look for a bespoke insurance policy instead. Some specialists completely waive the excess on claims, set no maximum limits on the value of your bike, and cover you for using your bike in sporting events. You will pay make slightly more, but it’s worth it.
However, there are some home insurance providers that offer additional cover for bikes, so search for a policy that includes specific cover that meets your needs.
If you’re mad about cycling, you will know there is a huge gulf between the cheapest bikes and top-of-the-range models. The same goes for bicycle insurance policies so take care to read the small print.