How important is it to insure my bicycle? Can my car insurance cover me while I’m riding my bicycle as well? If not, what kind of insurance will cover my bicycle?
There are a lot of questions when it comes to getting a bicycle insured. For avid cyclists these questions take on even greater importance. According to Bicycling.com the newest high-end bicycles typically cost somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 but some bikes like the new EMX-7 by bike manufacturer Eddy Merckx can have retail prices over $20,000.
Insuring a bicycle may seem unnecessary to anybody that has never purchased a bicycle that costs more than some cars but to those that have it is both necessary and problematic. It is necessary because no one is more vulnerable on the road than a cyclist having to navigate streets filled with vehicles that weigh 100 times more than a bike. Even a minor accident can wreck bicycle’s frame, which is easily the most expensive part. Unfortunately auto-insurance does not typically cover damages caused while riding and so additional forms of insurance are often required.
Insuring a bicycle is also problematic because most major insurance companies don’t include any bike specific accident coverage in their standard insurance plans. It is possible however to find some kind of plan offered by an insurance company that covers a bicycle in a few situations. Allstate car insurance, for example, does not specifically cover bicycles but with their Personal Property Protection as a part of their Homeowner’s insurance a policyholder will be covered against theft and some cases of accident damage.
Another way to insure a bicycle is through umbrella policies that many insurance companies offer. These policies come into effect after the coverage from a person’s other insurance plans are exhausted. This can be a sure way to guarantee coverage because most companies, like State Farm, offer umbrella coverage on personal items for up to as much as $1 million worth of damages.
Both of these options are imperfect, however, because they either do not offer coverage in every situation or they can only be added in the form of expensive, all-encompassing premium insurance policies. An ideal form of bicycle coverage would be a policy that treats a bicycle like it does any other type of vehicle. Then the bike could be added to an existing car insurance policy for a minimal increase in the insurance premium while still guaranteeing full and fair compensation when a high-end bicycle needs to be replaced or repaired.
This is easier said than done unfortunately because, according to Doug Foulks, a Nationwide product manager, most insurance companies are reluctant to invest fully into bicycle insurance because “it’s not the most profitable. People tend to crash.”
Despite the risks many companies are making some attempts to cater to the high-end bicycle owner. Perhaps the best example of this is Clipp Inc. Clipp is a bicycle company that noticed the need for more specific bicycle insurance coverage. The standard insurance plan costs $99 per year which guarantees $1,000 of accident medical coverage per occurrence, $1,000 of property damage per occurrence (after a $500 deductible), $1,000 of theft coverage and $25,000 of accidental death coverage. If more coverage is desired then it can be increased by $1,000 for every additional $15 the customer adds onto the yearly fee.
Clipp’s insurance plan is far from perfect. The $500 deductible for its property damage coverage is too high and Clipp is only available in Texas, Oregon, California, Washington and Virginia. Still Clipp seems to be a good model of how bicycle insurance could be offered by other companies.
The amount of coverage you want will depend on a lot of factors, including the value of your bike, the amount of time you spend riding it and the cost of insurance. The best place to start, when deciding whether to increase your insurance coverage or not, is probably your local insurance agent who will be able to explain whether or not your current policy covers what you need it to.
1) “Bicycle” Defined
a) A “bicycle” is defined as any device a wheeled vehicle propelled by human power; by feet or hands acting upon pedals or cranks, with a seat or saddle designed to be used on the ground for the use of the operator, and whose wheels are not less than 14 inches in diameter. upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, except “Bicycle” includes an electric assisted bicycle, but not scooters and similar devices.
b) “Electric assisted bicycle” means a moped powered solely by the electric motor, has fully operable pedals on permanently affixed cranks, and weighs less than 75 pounds (41-6a-102) .
c) A bicycle is considered a vehicle, and a cyclist has the same rights and is subject to the same provisions as the operator of any other vehicle (§1102). This includes obeying traffic signals (§305), stop and yield signs (§902), and all other official traffic control devices (§208).
2) Direction of Traffic
a) Being considered a vehicle, a bicycle must ride with the flow or direction of traffic (§1105).
3) Shoulder/Bicycle Lane Travel
a) If the traveling is slower than the flow of traffic, a cyclist must ride as close to the right-hand edge of the roadway as practicable, except when:
i) Passing another bicycle or vehicle;
ii) Preparing to make a left turn;
iii) Riding straight through an intersection just to the left of vehicles turning right; or
iv) Necessarily avoiding unsafe conditions along the right-hand edge of the road such as fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, other bicycles, or pedestrians
b) If a useable pathway alongside the road is available, a traffic-control device may direct bicyclers to use it and not the road (§1105).
4) 3-Foot Rule
a) Motorists may not pass within 3 feet of a moving bicycle, unless they can do so at a reasonable and safe distance (§706.5).
b) Motorists may pass a cyclist who is moving less than the reasonable speed of traffic that is present, on the left, by entering the center lane only and when it is on a roadway that is divided into three or more lanes that provides the movement of two-way traffic, is clear of traffic, and within a safe distance (§801).
c) Motorists may not pass a cyclist in the following conditions:
i) when approaching or upon the crest of a grade or upon a curve in the highway where the operator’s view is in any way obstructed;
ii) when approaching within 100 feet of, or traversing, any intersection or railroad grade crossing unless otherwise indicated by an official traffic control device;
iii) when the view is obstructed upon approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.
5) Intersection Procedures
a) Remember, a bicycle has all the rights – and all the obligations – that a vehicle has when it comes to intersection procedures. So the following rules apply to motorists and cyclists alike:
i) Until July 1, 2014, after an operator of a motorcycle, moped, or bicycle—who is 16 years of age or older—has brought their vehicle to a complete stop at a red light, and after waiting 90 seconds for an unchanged red light, may cautiously proceed through the intersection.
ii) If there is no traffic light (or the traffic light is not working), any driver/cyclist approaching the intersection white line must yield the right-of-way to other drivers/cyclists already at the intersection, no matter the direction from which they are coming.
iii) If two vehicles arrive simultaneously at an intersection, and there is no traffic light signal, the vehicle on the left must yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.
iv) If the roadway does not continue through the intersection, the vehicle must yield the right-of-way to the intersecting highway.
v) A vehicle on a road that is not paved yields the right-of-way to the vehicle on a paved road.
vi) A vehicle must stop, when directed by a traffic light or stop sign, before the designated white stop line (unless otherwise directed by a police officer).
vii) A vehicle approaching a stop sign must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within an adjacent crosswalk.
viii) A bicycle may ride straight through an intersection on the left side of a right-hand turning lane.
ix) A vehicle turning left in an intersection yields the right-of-way to oncoming traffic
6) Stop Light and Stop Sign
a) Cyclists must obey all traffic lights, stop and yield signs, and must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within an adjacent crosswalk (§305/902/208).
7) Passing on the Right
a) Except for bicycles, Ppassing on the right is only lawful where there is a specific lane to do so, when safe. If for any reason a vehicle leaves the paved roadway in order to pass, it is considered illegal (§705).