Oversimplified: Bicycle Insurance

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September 22, 2014

Most of us don't hesitate to spend what is needed to protect our bikes: locks, bolts, cables. We've all learned, some of us the hard way, how to lock up properly. But how about bicycle theft insurance? Or bicycle damage or loss insurance? Do you have it, and is it worth it?

There's a lot of misunderstanding about what coverage is available and what coverage is worthwhile. For the price of one fancy dinner date, you can likely insure your bike for the year. Read on for our oversimplified guide to bike insurance.


Something we avoid whenever possible, but you'll need some to navigate this process:

Premium - The price you pay for insurance.

Claim - Your request for payment in the event of theft or damage.

Deductible - The amount you have to pay on a claim before insurance kicks in.

Personal Liability - The legal fees and settlement your insurance pays someone else if you (and/or your bike) cause them injury or damage their property.

And last, a disclaimer: insurance varies dramatically by plan, provider, and state. It would be impossible to summarize all options for all people, so we've collected a short list of easy questions that will help you find the right coverage.

Types Of Coverage

Renter's insurance is likely the most well known. It covers all your stuff in a disaster - such as fire - as well as out on the street. If your apartment is burglarized, or your cable lock cut, renter's insurance should pay out for a replacement bike.

Homeowner's insurance works the same but usually has a higher deductible.

State FarmAllstate, and many others offer property coverage nationally. If you prefer surreal commercials, try Geico.

Like all insurance, every claim has the potential to raise your rates. While claiming inexpensive damage or theft may result in a pay out from your provider, it might also raise your premiums. That rate hike could be more costly than the original claim is worth.  For that reason there are insurance options for your bike only. You pick how much coverage you need for your body, your bike, and your liability to other road users.

Bicycle theft and damage insurance plans from Markel are sound and offer an easy online quote. Expect to spend 5 minutes or less providing some info to get a rough price. At a bike value of $1,400 we got a quote for $150 year. Velosurance is another good option. The quote process is a bit more involved but presumably closer to actual price.

In both instances, your bike value won't change your premium all that much. It's the additional coverage, like liability, medical, even roadside assistance that can inflate the price (and quickly).

Believe it or not, some car insurance policies even provide personal injury protection while riding.

Deductible Pro Tip

If your deductible - the amount you pay on any claim - is greater than the value of your bike, you'll get nothing. So, if your insurance only covers your bike for damage or theft, and the premium for the year + the deductible is greater than the value of your bike, you're wasting money.

Remember, many plans include coverage for injury (yours and others) on the road, and that might make the deal worth it, even if the above is true.

Questions To Ask Your Agent

1) How is the value of my bike calculated?

Some providers will use Actual Cash Value, the street worth of your bike at the time of incident. Others will use the Replacement Value, what it would cost to replace regardless of depreciation. This is a big difference. Know ahead of time which method your carrier uses.

2) If I make a claim, what is my deductible?

If your deductible is large, approaching the value of your bike, ask if increasing your premium will lower it.

3) Is my bike covered with someone else riding it? Am I covered when riding someone else's bike?

This will vary plan to plan. Find out before your roommate forgets to lock up.

4) Does the plan include any liability or injury coverage for me and/or my fellow road users? Or does it only cover theft or damage to my bike?

Liability insurance will increase your premium but can be the easiest way to protect yourself from a costly settlement if you're found at fault.


Bicycle insurance isn't for everyone. But if you're unlucky enough to need it, insurance can make a bad situation better. The rest of the time coverage may provide the peace of mind you need to get the most out of every ride.


Did we miss something? Shoot us an email and let us know.