Wednesday 28 September 2016

It's worth paying a little extra to keep you and your bicycle on the road

John Cradden

Published 09/08/2015 | 02:30

'The increasing popularity of cycling has also seen an uptick in the number of reported accidents involving other traffic'
'The increasing popularity of cycling has also seen an uptick in the number of reported accidents involving other traffic'

There's always a downside when something, no matter how positive, becomes a trend. The numbers cycling to work or partaking in cycling-related activities or sport have been rising sharply for the past few years.

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This has boosted sales of bicycles of all types, particularly at the upper end of the scale. This is partly down to the Bike to Work tax scheme but also because cycling is the new golf, with the result that many MAMILs (middle-aged men in lycra) are to be seen taking over the roads at the weekends on their exotic and expensive lightweight machines.

Of course, the rise in the population of bicycles has been accompanied by a rise in the rates of theft. The figures are quite staggering. As of the end of May, more than 2,100 bike thefts had taken place around the country, with 76pc in the Dublin region.

In the last decade, bike theft has increased by 227pc. A staggering 6,750 bicycle thefts were reported last year, representing a loss in excess of €4m.

The increasing popularity of cycling has also seen an uptick in the number of reported accidents involving other traffic.

A new analysis by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) found that although cyclists still only account for 2pc of traffic, they make up 8pc of the injuries. Drivers hitting cyclists caused four out of 10 of these injuries in 2012.

But while sales of bicycles and the numbers cycling have risen through the roof, more folks are also choosing to take out dedicated bicycle insurance, some of which include public liability and personal accident cover as standard or as an option.

Public liability provides third-party cover in the event that someone makes a claim against you for damage caused by you and your bicycle, while personal accident covers you if you sustain certain specified injuries as a result of a cycling-related accident.

Waterford-based Cyclesure.ie, for instance, has since 2010 seen a steady 50pc rise every year in new bicycle insurance policies.

A relatively new category of insurance, dedicated bicycle insurance allows owners of high-end bicycles to get a level of cover for their precious machines that wouldn't be possible on a house insurance contents policy.

"Although theft is the main focal point for most people when it comes to bicycle insurance, we actually find that damage accounts for a higher percentage of our claims, particularly for club cyclists," said Shane Hamm of Cyclesure.

"I think this may be down to more expensive carbon-frame bikes which are more susceptible to damage than older metal frames."

Insuring a bicycle under the house contents is still the most popular way of insuring bicycles, with 87pc of more than 1,000 cyclists who had their bikes stolen within the last five years choosing this type of insurance, according to David Timoney of the Dublin Cycling Campaign.

However, most home insurance policies may have a standard limit of as little as €500 on the value of a bicycle that is covered under a contents policy, which is no good for many new owners - particularly given that the Bike to Work tax scheme gives qualifying employees the opportunity to buy a bike fully tax-free up to a value of €1,000.

You can add a more expensive bicycle as a 'specified item', which may result in a higher overall premium. There may also be restrictions on this cover depending on your provider, with some firms only covering your bicycle for theft while inside the home, garage or shed.

Cyclesure offers cover for any number of bikes worth up to €10,000, or even a single bike worth up to €7,500, although Mr Hamm says his firm regularly insures bikes worth more than this.

To insure a bicycle worth €500 with Cyclesure would be €50, while ones worth €1,000 or €2,000 would be €80 and €140 respectively.

Bicycleinsurance.ie, run by Blue Insurances, came out with similar figures, give or take a few euro, while One Direct, underwritten by AIG, was a little more expensive at €95 and €190 for the bicycles worth €1,000 and €2,000.

"Although insurance premiums have generally increased in the last two years, our rates have actually improved in particular for more expensive bikes," said Mr Hamm.

"In 2009, the premium rate would have been in excess of 10pc of the value of the insured bike. Now, for an expensive bike, you can get a premium at just over 5pc with discounts for being part of a club, being over 40 and opting out of theft cover, which is popular with club cyclists where damage is often the main risk factor."

It's worth noting that Cyclesure includes public liability cover for up to €1,000,000 as standard, rather than as an extra cost option - although all three include personal accident cover.

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