Do you really need cycling insurance?

Cycling insurance is important in case you have a crash

The Cyclists’ Defence Fund has recently been approached by two cyclists involved in collisions with pedestrians. The cyclists have admitted whole or partial liability but as they do not have insurance they face potentially large legal bills and compensation claims. To avoid replicating these cyclists’ experiences, read on to find out the benefits of getting cycling insurance.

Uninsured or untraced drivers

Many cyclists do not have third party insurance. It is not compulsory to do so as it is with other road users like motorcyclists and drivers.

An uninsured cyclist hit by an uninsured or untraced driver can claim compensation through the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB), which is funded by the insurance industry and provides compensation to victims of uninsured drivers.

However, there is a history of certain judges rejecting claims where the cyclist is unable to provide conclusive evidence that the driver caused their injuries, e.g. where the driver’s behaviour caused the cyclist to lose balance and fall but where there was no physical contact between the vehicle and the cyclist.

Uninsured cyclists

In the event of a collision where an uninsured cyclist is allegedly at fault (e.g. where a cyclist has jumped a red light and hit a pedestrian), the victim may not be able to claim compensation if the cyclist has no assets or is on a low income.  

In collisions where cyclists do not stop, victims may be left without recourse to compensation. This is because the MIB does not deal with claims where the uninsured or untraced ‘driver’ is a cyclist.

Liability for compensation

The downside for a cyclist responsible for causing an incident, be it colliding with a pedestrian, another cyclist or another road user, is that he/she may be personally liable for the damage caused.

Compensation claimed depends on the severity of the injuries sustained; compensation could be substantial in the event of a serious injury. The liability would also extend to the injured person’s legal fees.

Enforcement of damages and costs where the defendant is uninsured can include charging orders against a person’s house, an order for sale, or even a garnishee order on that person’s pay packet to take the amount owed over a period of months or more.

Cycling insurance

Clearly, it makes sense to take out third party insurance if you are cyclist because, if you do not and you are wholly or partially responsible for an incident, the consequences could be financially damaging.

Although cyclists may be at higher risk on the roads, statistically they are less likely to cause an incident than a driver, which is reflected in insurance premiums.

Insurers offering specialist cycling policies will charge about £30 to £40 a year. Membership of cycling organisations like CTC, the national cycling charity includes third party cycling insurance as well as other non-insurance related benefits. Additional insurance options are available to CTC members such as for travelling and for people organising cycle events. 

Policies normally offer third-party or public liability cover, i.e. they cover the cost of causing incidents to other road-users and damaging their property. Damage to the policy holder’s bicycle following an incident is also typically covered as well as the cost of replacing the bicycle if it is stolen or considerably damaged.

Author information

Some of the information in this article was provided by Charles O’Brien, Senior Associate at Penningtons Manches LLP: charles.obrien@penningtons.co.uk  / 01483 411483

Penningtons Manches acts for victims of cycling incidents as well as for cyclists who want to defend civil claims made against them when they have allegedly caused an incident.

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