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Cyclists left high and dry by insurers

Written by: Emma Lunn
The cost of a bike shot up in lockdown, but the amount of insurance cover on offer has not because insurance has failed to keep pace with bike inflation.

According to Defaqto, only 16% of home insurance policies cover bikes away from the home as standard, while one in eight (12%) policies don’t cover bikes at all. The lack of cover could mean cyclists are left unprotected by insurers if their bike is stolen this summer.

Cycling has been increasing in popularity over the past decade while this past year in lockdown saw demand for bikes soar, with the Bicycle Association reporting a 60% increase in retail sales.

Increased demand, combined with supply problems due to Brexit and Covid have pushed up prices by 26%, according to the Bicycle Association. Today a road bike can cost from about £700 to more than £10,000, and this price can go up with accessories such as helmets, lights and non-standard saddles.

While there have been reports that thefts have fallen during lockdown, thefts have started to rise since lockdown restrictions have been eased.

For those who have home contents insurance, many policies will help cyclists in this situation. According to Defaqto, 78% of policies now have some cover for bikes stolen from the home; although about one in eight (12%) of policies provide no cover at all. But a big issue is that the amount of cover has not kept up with the rising price of bikes.

Not all home insurance includes cover for bikes as standard and for those that do, the limits are low. Of those that include cover, 20% offer less than £1,000 and 5% offer less than £500. For those who purchased a bike before lockdown and need to claim for theft now, they may find that the amount of cover will not be enough to buy them a like-for-like replacement today.

Cyclists also need to ensure that their bike is covered when away from the home. Unfortunately, it’s common for opportune thieves to target bikes that are left unattended, such as when the owner is in a shop, even when the bike is in full view of the owner.

This type of theft is not always covered on a home insurance policy. Only 16% of policies provide cover away from home as standard while the others make cover optional in some way.

Even where there is cover, it is usually much lower than cover for bikes in the home. Most policies also stipulate that the bike must be securely locked, with an approved lock, to an immovable object to be covered when left unattended.

Brian Brown, consumer finance expert at Defaqto, said: “It is great to see so many people cycling again. It is better for the environment, good for your health and is also great fun. It is no surprise that it is so popular, particularly given the past year, and it is a shame that this has pushed the cost of bikes up by so much.

“Thousands of bikes are stolen every year and unfortunately you may find that your insurance does not provide enough cover for a replacement now. It is worth checking what cover you have and speaking to your insurer if you need to change this. You may also want to consider a specialist bike insurance policy if you have one of the more expensive models.”

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