As more Brits than ever take to two wheels, is your bike properly insured?

With all that's been going on this year you might have missed the news about a national shortage of something essential to the health and wellbeing of many. No, not loo roll. We're talking about bikes.

By Sarah Lewis

Lockdown has resulted in exceptional demand for bikes. Retailer Halfords reported sales of cycling equipment rose by 500% at the start of lockdown and bikes at both big chains and independent cycle shops have been selling out as soon as new stock arrives 1

Perhaps it's the surprisingly warm weather, lockdown exercise regimes or the desire to avoid public transport – whatever the reason, bikes have never been so desired or popular. Our research shows a fifth (19%) of UK adults plan to use pedal cycles to get from A to B, while 1 in 10 (9%) plan to use electric bikes in the coming months 2

Whether you've owned your bike for years or bought a new one recently, it's important to have the right insurance. However, an expensive specialist insurance policy may not be needed.

Are bikes covered by home insurance?

"Many providers offer specialist insurance to cover pedal cycles, but customers should make sure they aren't already insured elsewhere to avoid duplication and additional costs," says Sarah Applegate, Aviva's General Insurance Strategy and Insight Lead.

"Many home contents policies include cover for loss, damage, and theft of pedal cycles and e-bikes within the sum insured. With Aviva, both pedal cycles and e-bikes are covered for theft and damage under home contents insurance  when stored in a shed, garage or the home."

Sarah warns it's important to read through your policy to check for any conditions. "Cover may extend to bikes kept in the garden, but only if the cycle is locked to an immovable object, such as a railing or floor anchor," she explains. 

Cyclists should also check their bike is covered away from home. 

"Many insurers offer a 'personal belongings' or 'personal possessions' add-on to home insurance which may cover bicycles while away from home," says Sarah. Again, customers should be mindful of policy restrictions. "Thefts may be excluded unless the cycle is in the customer's immediate control, or in a locked building, or secured to an object that cannot be moved, such as a lamppost or bike rack," she says.

If your bike is particularly expensive you may need to list it separately with your insurer – check if it takes you over the 'single item limit'  for your policy.

Do e-bikes need special insurance?

The rules vary for e-bikes – also known as electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPCs) or electric bikes  – depending on the country you live in. 

"If you live in the UK you should be okay, as long as you're over 14 and the e-bike meets certain requirements," says Sarah.

"Its engine must have a maximum power output of 250 watts and should not be able to propel the bike when it's travelling more than 15.5mph," she explains. You can read more about e-bike regulations on gov.uk

E-bikes should not be confused with motorcycles or mopeds which must be registered, taxed and insured for road use.

"If a pedal cycle or e-bike causes injury to a person or damage to someone else's property, this is usually covered under the personal liability section of home insurance or specialist pedal cycle insurance," says Sarah. "Again, riders should check if there are restrictions when riding outside of the UK, where different vehicle registration rules may apply."

Protect your bicycle

  1. Prevent thieves from taking your bike by locking it to a fixed object such as a bike rack or a ground anchor, these are often found in designated bike parking areas.
  2. Use a good quality lock such as a D-lock which is strong and difficult to cut through.
  3. Ensure the lock is around the wheel, frame and anchor to which it's attached. Otherwise thieves may be able to remove parts of your bike and lift the main frame away.
  4. You might want to remove easy-to-steal parts or accessories like the saddle and post, pumps or clip-less pedals.
  5. Leave your bike in a well-lit area with CCTV cameras where thieves are less likely to loiter.
  6. Register your bike with a tracker website such as www.bikeregister.com or www.immobilise.com so authorities can trace and identify your bike if it does get stolen.
  7. Photograph your bike and note down the serial number, make and model. If it does get stolen this will make it easy to identify to the police and insurers.
  8. Security-mark the frame using an ultraviolet marker. If it is stolen and found again, it will be identified and possibly returned to you.
  9. Familiarise yourself with your insurance policy and make sure your cover is right for your needs. It's worth checking your existing home insurance terms before taking out a new policy. You may already be covered.