Get cheap cover for your bike
If you cycle, you don't always need bike insurance – but lack of cover could put a nasty spoke in your wheel if the worst happened. With the recent spike in bicycle sales during the coronavirus crisis, we've updated this guide to help you decide if you should get insured, or ride without a financial safety helmet.
Bicycle insurance explained: The five need-to-knows
You can get insurance for your bicycle via your home insurance or via a specialist policy. You can also go without, and hope for the best. These 'need-to-knows' should help you decide...
Many insurers cover bicycles as standard under a contents, or home and contents, policy (see our Home Insurance guide to get cheap cover), so you may already have cover without knowing it. Check your policy documents to find out.
In general, you'll have one of two different types of cover. A basic home contents insurance policy covers possessions (eg, bikes, laptops, jewellery) if stolen or damaged at home. Pricier 'all risks' cover protects possessions away from home.
Here's a table showing what you're covered for under the two types of home contents insurance...
Theft of bike In home only Anywhere Bike damage while stationary, eg, from fire, flood In home only Anywhere Damage to bike while riding, regardless who is at fault (i) No cover Anywhere Injury to yourself while riding, regardless who is at fault (i) No cover No cover Liability if you injure someone/damage property while riding your bike Depends, so check Depends, so check Accident, damage or theft during a competitive race No cover No cover Theft cover only if you take "reasonable" care of your bike. (i) You won't be covered if you break the law while riding, such as skipping a red light or you're cycling while drunk.
If you want to extend cover to outside your home, some insurers let you buy an add-on just for your bike (at £10-£100 a year for a £1,000 bike). Others only sell add-ons that cover all valuables up to a limit, though costs vary depending on the value of your contents.
See our Home Insurance guide for much more on what it covers.
Home insurers may not cover expensive bikes
Insurers have limits on the value of an individual item they'll cover regardless of whether the cover is for in your home only or anywhere – and sometimes bike limits are different from other items' limits.
Some bike limits go up to £1,500 (and occasionally beyond) but we've seen one as low as £350. So in the latter case, if you bought a £400 bike you're not covered unless you pay an additional premium.
If it covers bicycles as standard and your bike's value is below the home policy's single item limit, your bike's covered, and you don't need to tell it (though it's still worth checking to be safe). Plus, unless you're an insurance expert, you may not know your firm's precise policy, so it's useful to confirm it anyway.
It's always the price to buy a bike of the same specifications new, rather than what you'd get for it if you sold it second-hand.
Generally it covers things you'd leave your home with, such as jewellery, handbags, laptops, clothes and bikes.
Usually, if your bike (or any other item) is worth more than about £1,500 you need to declare it, but limits vary from insurer to insurer.
If it's less (and your insurer should explain what the cut-off is), you instead must choose the overall value of goods you want to have insured outside the home, often known as 'unspecified items'.
Say you want to cover a £500 bike, £500 camera and £400 iPad, you'd typically choose a round figure of £1,500. Of course, the greater the value of 'personal possessions' you take out of the home and wish to insure, the more you pay.
In the home is anywhere within the legal boundaries of your property so would include a garage, driveway or garden.
If you live in a communal block, you're insured within the boundaries of the block itself, which should include communal hallways, garages, bike storage areas or gardens. Where the area is shared (ie, hallway, bike shed) theft restrictions usually apply.
Outside is anywhere in the world on many policies, yet to be covered outside the UK, most policies say that the bike can only be abroad for a maximum 60 or 90 days a year.
They usually are covered as long as they're attached to the bike. So with a helmet, it's best to lock it to the bike when not in use - or take it with you when you lock the bike up.
As a rule, a home contents insurance policy will in the first instance give you back a new bicycle equivalent to the specifications of the one you originally bought, if it's stolen or damaged beyond repair, no matter how old it is – usually via a retailer of the insurer's choice.
You could opt for cash instead but you'd only get back the cost price to the insurer, which is likely to be much less than retail price.
Whatever the outcome you'll have to pay the excess – a sum you give to the insurer before it pays out for a new bike. Often this is around £100, but could be as high as £500 depending on what sort of policy you've opted for, so find out your excess from your policy documents.
If the bike is damaged yet repairable, you'll be told where to take it for repairs. You'll need to pay the amount of the excess to the repairer, but your insurer will cover costs above this. Some insurers will pay the shop directly for the work LESS the excess; others might ask you to pay everything and then reimburse you (less the excess).
As long as the bicycle is used by an immediate family member, you're usually covered though we have spotted one or two that don't allow it.
This will depend on the insurer you have your contents policy with. Insurers such as Direct Line, Sainsbury's and Aviva allow contents policies to be extended to cover e-bikes from the likes of Gtech, Raleigh, Gocycle and many others.
However, you may need to specify the make, model and cost of the bike, so it's always good to call to check. Depending on the e-bike's value, there may also be an extra premium to pay.
For more, see how to insure an e-bike for additional information, and insurers to try.
There are two key problems you may face if relying solely on home contents insurance. It may still be adequate for many but arm yourself with the info below before making a decision.
The excess could mean you get nothing from a claim – a problem with cheap bikes
Where your bike is covered as one of many valuables on a policy, home contents excesses (the amount of any claim you must pay) vary wildly, with £150ish being typical, but sometimes going up to £500. If just your bike's stolen, and it's worth less than the excess, you'll get nothing from a claim.
Remember that as the typical cost of a bike is up to £500, it may not be covered. If damaged or stolen as part of a bigger theft, fire or flood, the excess often won't change so you should get cash back from a disaster such as these.
Claiming could push up your future home contents costs
It could mean higher prices for up to five years following the claim. This is because home insurers will ask you if you've made a claim during the past few years, and if you have they'll consider you a higher risk, which could push up prices. You'd also lose any no claims discount too.
When you get to renewal on your home insurance, use our home insurance cost-cutting system to slash the price you pay whether you've claimed on it or not.
Specialist policies are largely targeted at serious cycling enthusiasts who race competitively and often spend four-figure sums on their bikes. Costs differ based on your bike's value and the type of cover, but our top picks for a £3,000 bike are between £150 and £300 a year.
As well as covering expensive cycles, specialist insurance covers lost race fees and cycle clothing, which can be expensive.
What specialist bicycle insurance usually covers
You normally get the following covered as standard on all policies:
- Theft or damage while the bike's stationary. You're covered anywhere in the UK, though only some policies extend to Europe or worldwide.
- Bike damage due to an accident while riding on the road.
- Accessories that are part of the bike itself (eg, where you don't detach the light).
The following cover tends to come as standard or an additional fee with mid-range/premium policies:
- Damage while in an official race.
- Lost race fees if you can't compete.
- A personal accident payout if you're seriously injured or killed while riding.
- Cover for third-party injuries/damages if you cause an accident or hurt somebody, and face legal action.
- Accessories that are not part of the bike (eg, lights that clip on and off).
- Bike clothing.
- Roadside assistance.
Most policies will only cover the bike if in the possession of the person named on the policy at the point of the incident.
Wear and tear and the excess can limit how much you can claim
If you claim and are given a new bike or repair, you have to pay towards the cost in two ways. Firstly, the insurer will deduct an excess (often £50-£100) and secondly, it will deduct an amount for 'depreciation' that takes into account wear and tear on the bike.
Depreciation takes effect after two or three years, and can deduct as much as 20% for a three- to five-year-old bike, 30% up to seven years old, 40% up to 10 years and 50% above. So you may only get £1,600 back (before deducting the excess) on a five-year-old bike worth £2,000.
Various insurers treat this differently. Some make you go to one of their approved retailers and pay the cost (minus the two elements above) directly with the repairer or shop. Others do the same, but let you go to any shop you choose, though they first need to approve the cost before the claim is approved. In the latter case you have to pay for it and claim the money back.
Some specialist bike policies will cover the costs of hiring another bike while yours is repaired. If yours covers this and your bike's stolen or damaged beyond repair, call your insurer which'll sort out a replacement for as long as you need and you have cover. You'll usually have to agree to a model from its choice of hire firms.
Yes. Specialist bike insurers will usually have policies for cycling aficionados with custom-made bicycles. Insurers will vary the top value bike they're willing to insure – however, you shouldn't have any problems if it's worth £10,000 or thereabouts. But remember to keep all your receipts for work carried out and parts purchased. The insurers usually want to see these.
Forget insurance for a minute: you should do all you can to keep your bicycle as safe as possible. If you don't do this, your policy may not pay out if something happened so that's a double reason to play it safe.
Here are some key tips to keep your bike out of reach of thieves, while also ensuring you don't invalidate any claim if a criminal gets past your defences.
Quick bike security tips
Your claim could be refused if your bike's not locked to an immovable object such as a specialist bike rack or a radiator or pipe (though be careful not to tie it to anything fragile or dangerous), whether in a communal hallway, garage, bike store, bike shed, garden or courtyard, even if behind a locked door.
Some insurers also insist the bike must not be visible to the outside world, eg through a window.
If your building doesn't have a separate, locked gate or fence between your bike and the outside world, you're likely to have a problem if you have a specialist bicycle insurance policy and it's stolen (even if locked to something immovable), as these policies may state it can only be left there for a maximum of 12 or sometimes 24 hours.
This varies by insurer, though it's still a safer bet to lock it up. You won't need to lock a bicycle kept inside your locked home, however.
Home insurance policies usually just insist your bike is secure, meaning you can use any working lock.
Specialist policies are more stringent given you're usually insuring expensive bikes. Most will insist you have a particular lock according to your bike's value.
Most use the bike lock 'ratings' system known as Sold Secure that rates the strength of bicycle locks as bronze (for bikes costing up to £250), silver (bikes costing £251 to £1,500) or gold (bikes costing more than £1,500).
Generally, a bronze-approved lock will start from £20, silver from £25 and gold from £35, though competition between retailers means you should be able to compare prices and save. Always hold onto the receipt because many insurers will want to see proof you had a suitable lock, if your bike (and the lock) is stolen.
Be careful if you leave your bike at a station, public cycle rail or just chained to a lamppost, as if it's there for too long and stolen, insurers may not pay out. Limits vary by insurer, so check, but are usually a max 12 or 24 hours.
This can also apply to a bike left at work if there wasn't effective security in place. Under home insurance, this time limit usually doesn't apply unless your bike's worth thousands of pounds as a high-value item you've specifically had to list.
You can register your bike on the Bike Register - National Cycle Database for free. This will essentially give your bike its own unique number to help police recover it if it's stolen. You can also buy security kits to mark your bike with its unique number and get stickers to warn thieves that the bike is registered.
Police stations across the UK offer free marking events so it's worth keeping an eye out for those. Dates differ depending on where you are in the country, but you can check your local police force's website to find out more.
No. A claim on your bicycle insurance won't have any impact on any other insurance. However, it's worth remembering that if an incident involves you breaking the law while on your bike, your insurer can refuse to pay any claims. So if you skip a red light and get hit, your insurer will probably refuse to fix your damaged bike and won't pay out anything you may have been due under the personal accident part of the policy.
Electric bikes, or e-bikes, usually cost significantly more to buy than regular pedal-powered bikes.
Unfortunately, this does mean that not all 'standard' cycle insurers or home insurers will cover them - so a bit more work is involved to get the right policy that will cover you for theft, damage and third-party liability.
Laws are in place to avoid rules being manipulated, or broken, but as a general rule of thumb:
- The electric bike must have a maximum speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph) provided by the electric motor.
- The bike must have fully operational pedals, ie: which allow you to pedal the bike when needed.
On top of this, it also depends whether you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
If you’re a resident of England, Scotland or Wales then there is no requirement you must insure the the electric bike, or get special insurance.
If you live in Northern Ireland, different road use rules apply as the highway regulations of Northern Ireland view e-bikes as closer to mopeds than to bicycles. Because of this, you are required - by law - to insure your electric bike, when using one, if you live in Northern Ireland.
Additionally, you’ll also need to hold a moped licence if you plan to ride an e-bike in Northern Ireland, and it must also be registered and taxed. So remember - just like riding a pedal bike - you will still need to comply with the road safety laws, such as using lights when it's dark, and complying with traffic lights and other signals.
This depends which country you are in. Residents of England, Scotland and Wales do not need a licence for an e-bike - but the rider must be aged 14 or over.
In Northern Ireland, the rules are stricter as:
- The rider must hold a moped licence, and be insured.
- The electric bike must be taxed and registered.
Buying insurance for an e-bike is not really much different to buying a standard bicycle policy. Many policies will still give theft and accidental damage cover for the bike (but don't expect to get cover for racing).
Something to consider when buying a policy is to check if you get public liability cover. This insurance cover would give you protection in case you injure someone, or damage property, while riding your electric bike. Without it, you could be held personally responsible if someone chooses to sue you for injury or damage.
Usually, home insurance policies won't give you this liability protection if your bike is electric or motor propelled.
But, the insurers listed in our top picks do give quotes for electric bikes - and will include public liability insurance as part of the policy - so are worth try. Remember to follow each step in our how to buy bicycle insurance guide.
The big question: Should you pay for extra bicycle insurance?
Most people probably have some sort of cover via their home contents insurance policy. So you need to decide whether that's enough or whether to extend that cover (which may be from scratch if you've nothing) by bolstering your home insurance, or whether to buy a specialist bicycle insurance policy.
If you choose to pay extra, we've best-buy tips in the section below.
It depends on your attitude to risk. If you rarely lose or damage things, and you'd get little after a claim and paying the excess, you've less need. If you spend £1,000s, consider specialist cover as home insurance probably won't protect it.
Let's give you two scenarios to think about:
- Your bike is worth £250 and you pay £40 a year to insure it via a specialist policy. If the excess is £100, you'd only get £150 as a monetary value back in a claim in year one, but as you've spent £40 you're only getting a net £110 back. If you didn't insure it for three years and didn't make a claim, you're better off anyway.
- You've a £3,000 bike, and spend £220 a year on insurance. If the excess is £100 you'd get £2,900 as a monetary value back in a claim in year one, but as you've spent £220 you're getting a net £2,680 back.
So, whether extra insurance is worth it depends on the value of your bike, the excess you'd need to pay, and how long you keep the bike for.
Many credit cards offer a purchase protection system, meaning if you buy goods on the card and they're lost or stolen within a set time – usually about 90 days – you can get the money back from the credit card company.
So use the card in your wallet that gives the best level of protection (or get a new one; see our Top 0% Credit Cards guide), though if you fail to pay the balance off in full at the end of the month you'll pay interest.
Just by paying on credit card you'll get protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This is far from a substitute for insurance but means if the bike's damaged when you get it, or you order and pay for it and it never arrives, and the retailer won't help, the card firm has to give you your money back.
Martin's bike theft purchase protection tale:
A few years ago, I had my month-old bike stolen. So having been to buy a new one to get to work, I cycled to the police station to get a crime number so I could claim on my purchase protection. This second bike, which was chained to the cop shop railings and D-locked round the wheels, was stolen too. So I walked straight back inside, reported that too – and thankfully it paid out twice.
- Martin Lewis, MSE founder & chair
How to buy bicycle insurance
So now you know the basics of bicycle insurance, here are the steps you need to follow to ensure you find the best possible price.
Almost all insurance policies cover cheap and mid-range bikes in your home anyway (though check before assuming you're covered), so the question for most is whether to pay extra to cover your bike outside your home.
If that's your choice, here are the two steps to take.
Firstly. Find out how much it costs to cover your bike outside your home on your home contents policy. Depending on your insurer, the add-on can just cover your bike or all valuables outside your home (incl a bike, laptop, jewellery, handbag and more).
The cost of adding cover for all valuables can vary massively depending on what you want to cover, from £10 to £100s. Just adding a bike is usually much cheaper, from £10 to £100 for a £1,000 bike.
- Then ... get a quote for a new insurance policy altogether. You may need to do this if your bike is too expensive for your current insurer, if your insurance becomes expensive once you've added the bike, or if it may have been expensive to start with. See our full home insurance cost-cutting system to find out how to get a better deal.
Once you know the cost of a cheap new policy or extending your current one, choose the best of the two, then compare it to the costs below.
If you are looking for a bicycle insurance policy, the first option is use comparison sites to find the cheapest insurance.
Comparison sites zip your details to a number of insurer and broker websites to find the cheapest quotes. It features some insurers that have not made it into our best buys so it's worthwhile to check the policy, conditions and excess meet your needs.
For a wide selection of insurers, try these two comparison sites:
Pros: Has the widest panel of insurers.
Cons: You'll need to set up a password at quotation point.
Pros: Able to easily select add-ons & level of cover.
Cons: A smaller choice of insurers.
Please give us feedback on these comparison sites, and let us know if they worked for you..
If a comparsion site doesn't work for you or you're still unable to find cover you are looking for, the next step is to try a specialist which are not always listed on comparison sites.
We've picked policies with low-ish excesses and we've tried to balance getting the cheapest deal with policies that actually provide decent cover (eg, many below provide cover while racing, which is popular among enthusiasts).
Our top picks are for bikes worth £500, £1,500 and £3,000 for owners based in London and Manchester. The prices should apply to much of the UK, though there may be some regional variation so it's worth checking.
We analysed standalone bicycle insurance policies, reviewed the cover (and exclusions) and worked out our best by those which pay back the most compared to how much they cost. To pick the top we've divided the total amount you can claim per year with how much you'll pay out per year, inclusive of the excess, and given it a score. For example, a policy that pays out £500 and costs £100 a year would score a five.
We have also created a 'Best of the Rest' list if you would like to try more insurers.
|CycleGuard*||£50.55||£50||Scooter or motorbike lock (1)||Optional||Optional||Yes||Optional|
|Bikmo (Plus)*||£67.32||£0 (2)||Silver||Yes||£2m||Yes||Yes|
Correct as of July 2020. (1) Any lock specifically designed for a bike, motor scooter or motorcycle allowed.
|Yellow Jersey (Essential)*||£194.68||£100||Gold||Yes||£2m||No||No|
|Bikmo (Plus)*||£294.12||£0 (1)||Gold||Yes||£2m||Yes||Yes|
(1) If you use a local retailer. All other claims (including claim’s settled as cash), the excess is £40 or 10% of the claim value, whichever is greater.
Correct as of July 2020.
We checked dozens of policies to whittle down the list above and the providers should work for most, but not for everyone. Policies that didn't make the cut aren't necessarily bad value but may have a high excess, for example.
Where they may not be best is if you don't fit what insurers consider to be 'standard'. This can include:
- If you've made a previous bike insurance claim.
- If you live in an area where prices are higher than those listed above.
- If you want cover for a long trip overseas.
- If you have a disability which means you won't get the same level of cover as above.
- If you want a policy which includes racing.
If that doesn't help, you could try a broker, via the British Insurance Brokers' Association broker search, though be aware not all will be specialists in bicycle insurance.
How to claim on your bike insurance
Claiming on your bike insurance shouldn't be daunting and – if you understand the terms and excesses on your policy – you shouldn't be in for any nasty shocks. Follow these three simple steps in the event you need to claim.
If it's a theft, notify the police quickly
If your bike's stolen, you'll need to get a crime reference number to make a successful claim on a home or specialist policy. Report the incident to the police as soon as you can – you often have to do it within 24 hours – to make sure your claim doesn't hit the skids.
Submit your claim as soon as possible
Contact your insurer as soon as you can to avoid any administrative hold-ups; if it's a complex claim, it may take a while to be processed, so the sooner you start the better.
Keep your receipts
If you're claiming for accessories as well as for a bike, you'll need the receipts as proof of loss. For those who buy all their accessories at the same time they buy the bike, this won't be a problem. But if you buy them over a short period from various retailers, make sure you hold on to the receipts.
How to complain about your insurance provider
The insurance industry doesn't have the best customer-service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include claims either not being paid out on time or at all, unfair charges, or exclusions being hidden in small print. It's always worth trying to call your provider first, but, if not, then…
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