Cyclists and insurance - the need to knows


As part of the cycle safety review announced on 21 September, the Government is considering 'whether the current legislation as to reckless cycling is appropriate, as well as different ways in which safety can be further improved between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists', ministers have said.

Insurance broker Complete Cover Group, takes a look at the current situation for cyclists and insurance.

The statistics 

With almost two million people in the UK riding their bicycles every single day, and more than two and a half million taking to two wheels at least once a week, that makes for a lot of cyclists travelling on British roads.

The success of top cyclists such as Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome has helped to fuel interest in the sport, causing Brits to take to cycling in ever-increasing numbers. Statistics show that the numbers of cyclists on our roads has been steadily increasing since 2008, with bicycle sales in 2013 surpassing the number of cars sold.

Cyclists and road traffic incidents 

With so many cyclists now sharing the roads with cars and other traffic, it’s no surprise to learn that the number of road traffic incidents involving bicycles is on the increase.

Over 3,400 cyclists were seriously injured in 2014 alone, which represented an 8.2% increase over the previous year. However, this statistic relies on accidents that were reported to the police, meaning that the true figure could be much higher.

There’s also been a marked increase in the number of collisions between bicycles and pedestrians, with reports suggesting that at least one pedestrian is injured by cyclists every day. This has served to fuel demand for cyclists to be obliged to take out insurance, something that is compulsory for all other road vehicles.

According to current UK legislation, there is no legal requirement for a cyclist to take out insurance.

Members of Cycling UK, formerly known as the Cyclists Touring Club, or CTC, benefit from automatic third-party insurance of up to £10m in the event of an accident caused by their bicycles – however not all cyclists are members of the organisation.

Some household and motor insurance policies cover cycle use on the roads, but this is very much a grey area. Meanwhile some are suggesting that cyclists should be subject to the same rules as other road users, with over 22,000 signatures on a petition handed to Teresa May last year calling for bike riders to pay insurance and road tax to bring them in line with all other on-road vehicles.

Do cyclists need insurance?

Often cyclists argue that as, in the event of a road traffic incident it is inevitable that they will come off worst, they should have the choice as to whether to take out cycle-insurance or not.

They are keen to see the introduction of a law in which the heaviest vehicle is presumed to be liable in the event of an accident until proven otherwise. This law would work in favour of pedestrians who were involved in collisions with bicycles, and would act as a deterrent to cycling on pavements.

Throughout most of Europe, an accident involving a bicycle and another road vehicle is subject to the law of Presumed Liability, meaning that cyclists don’t need to prove that the motorist was at fault. Only the UK, Ireland, Malta, Cyprus and Romania have failed to introduce the relevant legislation.

As the law stands in the UK, a cyclist involved in a road traffic accident with another vehicle must prove the driver’s negligence on the balance of probabilities. Unless there were witnesses, this can be almost impossible to substantiate.

As more and more Brits take to the road on their bikes, the message is clear. It is to everyone’s advantage if bike riders take the initiative and source their own bike-insurance in order to provide guaranteed cover in the event of an incident, whether between a bike and other road user, or a bike and a pedestrian.

This article was written by Complete Cover Group, independent insurance brokers providing specialist insurance solutions.

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