What to Know About Car Insurance for Cyclists
Unfortunately, though, there are those occasional rides that don’t end well. When your bike and a car are in a crash, it’s never a good thing, and you should always be prepared for how to handle it.
We’ve looked elsewhere at how to avoid some of the most serious car-bike wrecks, and how to navigate the especially treacherous world of intersections. Following those tips should help you prevent a potentially life-threatening accident. Here, though, we’re going to look at another way to be prepared — one you may not have thought of.
For longtime cycling Coach Darryl MacKenzie, it’s critical that every cyclist understand how car insurance can protect them from serious financial fallout after a wreck.
The Potential Damages and Costs of a Wreck
The first thing you should know about car insurance for cyclists is what it covers. The physical danger of bike-car collisions is significant and not to be taken lightly. But take a moment to consider the potential financial costs, as well.
- The damage to your bike: If you’re a serious rider, you’ve probably spent a good amount of money on your leather bicycle saddle and bike, and the frame damage from a wreck can be extremely costly. Even minor frame damage can prove catastrophic if you try to ride the bike again, so it’s critical to have your bike checked by a professional after a wreck.
- Bodily injury: You may have serious injuries after crashing your bicycle into a car, and the costs of medical care can add up quickly.
- Transport to the hospital: One of those major expenses could simply be the cost of getting you to the hospital. Ambulance transportation can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
- Inability to work: If your injuries are serious enough, you may not be able to work for weeks or even months. This can be particularly problematic if you’re self-employed or otherwise don’t have any form of disability insurance.
As you can see, it would be easy to rack up serious debt if all of these expenses fell on you after wrecking your bicycle.
When Car Insurance Comes Into Play
Coach Darryl has good news, though. There is a way to make sure you reduce or eliminate these expenses. How? Car insurance.
Your first line of defense is the car insurance of the vehicle driver. If that driver was at fault, then their standard liability insurance — required by law in most states — will cover any damages to you or your property, along with lost wages if you can’t work.
However, that doesn’t mean you should just count on the vehicle driver’s car insurance. After all, the driver may not have sufficient insurance coverage — or, worse, none at all. That’s why you need to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
This coverage protects you from liability for damages caused by another driver. It’s an add-on to your standard auto insurance policy, and it covers you whether you’re in your car or not.
“The thinking cyclist has uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, and usually to the maximum amount they can get,” says Darryl. This extra coverage is usually extremely cheap, so it’s worth getting fully covered for bodily and property damage to ensure you’re protected in the event of a car-bike wreck.
Policy specifics vary by state and insurer — and some no-fault states also have something called personal injury protection (PIP) available — so check with your insurance agent about what’s available where you are, then be sure you max it out.
Does Insurance Cover a Stolen Bike?
This coverage won’t come into play if your bike is stolen, though. Your comprehensive car insurance may cover you if your vehicle is stolen, but even that won’t extend to your bike.
What typically will cover a stolen bike is your homeowners or renters insurance. These policies include coverage for your personal property, even when you don’t have it at your home or apartment. They also frequently protect you from liability if you happen to run into and injure a pedestrian on your bike.
These policies are subject to your deductible and may have other limitations (like how long your bike can be outside your home before it’s no longer eligible), so check with your agent to see what your coverage includes before you assume anything.
What to Do After a Bike-Car Wreck
Let’s say you’re well-prepared for a wreck — you’re fully insured through your cyclist car insurance and you know your rights. There’s still a bit more you need to do. If you do get in a crash on your bike, be sure to take pictures. Get images of the driver, their car license plate, and any damage to your bicycle or your body. As you would in a car-on-car accident, you should ask for the driver’s car insurance and contact information.
Once you do have to get insurance involved after a bike and car accident, make sure you keep in mind some advice from Darryl’s friend — who happens to work for an insurance company: Never talk to the driver’s agent or claims adjuster yourself. Their mission is to get you to admit some portion of fault and thus limit their insurance company’s liability. Instead, have your agent handle it to ensure you get the coverage you deserve.
Insurance is a complex and varied industry, and these laws vary from state to state. If you get in a car-bike wreck, you have good reason to be confident that you won’t bear all the financial burden. But it’s always best to be prepared. Discuss your needs and options with your agent before you get back in the saddle for another ride.
Look for more insights from Coach Darryl over at his website.