Monthly Archives: August 2012

Bicycle insurance

Last week my wife broke her elbow in a bike accident. She was on a 65-mile training ride when a tandem Cannondale tumbled down in front of her. She pitched forward and landed on an elbow. Now she has a new, metal elbow, which, after our tussle with the health insurer will leave us $5K poorer. (The tandem riders were fine, as were all bikes.)

What’s interesting here is how the accident was handled. The people in the accident looked at one another and went about their business, the tandem riders continuing on and my wife wending her way to the emergency room. That probably doesn’t sound unusual when two bikes collide. But no one thought about who was at fault.

Contrast this with the aftermath of an auto accident: Everyone exchanges names and phone numbers. In most cases with injury, insurance companies get involved. Immediately after the cars smack into each other, everyone is thinking about who is liable and how damages will be paid for. Same way, had a car struck a bike.

After the bike wreck, no one was thinking about those things.

It’s clear though, that one party in any bike accident was liable. And we should be thinking about that after any accident. With more riders these days, it’s an emerging liability issue.

Markel is thinking the same thing (via SNL, firewalled):

Markel American Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Markel Corp., launched a new bicycle insurance program to provide specialized protection for cyclists, according to an Aug. 15 news release.

The product, called Markel Cyclist, allows customers to customize policies according to their cycling needs.

Each policy can include bicycle physical damage coverage protection, with coverage extending to spare parts, cycle apparel, rental reimbursement and competitive fee reimbursement at no additional cost.

Other coverage includes bicycle liability, which covers injuries or property damage caused by the cyclist, medical payments coverage and vehicle contact protection to provide an additional source of recovery for insured cyclists struck by vehicles without adequate insurance. Markel Cyclist also offers roadside assistance coverage.

Markel Cyclist is available in most states, with nationwide availability upon regulatory approval in the remaining states.

Not sure if this product is directed at the road racer or the more casual cyclist, but I wish them luck. I’ll also point out that homeowners seems to cover this kind of thing.

I’m more interested in following this to learn how ideas of liability evolve. After my wife’s wreck, no one thought about his or her own liability. The liability existed, but the liable party didn’t think how to protect itself and the victim didn’t think how to pursue a claim.

Will that change, especially as more people cycling to work and run errands?