It’s going to be raised in parliament, so should cyclists be made to take out third-party insurance in the same was as drivers?
Should people riding bicycles around cities and towns be required to take out insurance, much like drivers are?
It’s a question that comes up relatively frequently, often in the context of angry motorists complaining about people on bikes.
And in March, Lord Winston – a peer best known for his work in fertility and role as a TV presenter – will raise the issue in parliament. He believes that cyclists should have to hold licences and carry third part insurance if they want to use their bikes in town centres.
He told The Express newspaper: “We are only talking about a minority of cyclists but many people will have experienced problems because of people biking the wrong way down the road or on the pavement or not being careful or not stopping at a pedestrian crossing…
“It seems there is nothing to ensure adults cycling in town centres have to follow the rules.”
His comments infuriated many cyclists and some pointed out that requiring insurance would be a barrier to getting people on their bikes, adding to congestion and pollution. And, of course, drivers have licenses and compulsory insurance but it doesn’t stop them jumping lights or speeding.
The idea of making insurance and licensing compulsory for cyclists makes people on both sides of the argument pretty heated.
But there is a case that doing so could actually keep cyclists safe. Here’s why:
Why some cyclists pay for third-party cover
No cyclist sets out intending to ride dangerously but accidents do happen. If a cyclist hits into a pedestrian, another bike or a car then there’s a risk that they will be found at fault and potentially sued for any damage.
If there’s injury to a person involved then that could potentially run into thousands of pounds in costs and compensation. With no insurance provider to pick up the bill, that can mean the individual being sued for any costs incurred by the injured person.
Third-party insurance that protects the cyclist against such claims are sometimes referred to as cyclist liability insurance or cycling indemnity insurance.
Some insurance policies will also include cover for your bike if it is damaged or stolen. But if you have a home insurance policy that includes protection for your bike already then you probably don’t need to pay for such a comprehensive policy.
Where do you buy cycle insurance?
There are a number of insurers that offer dedicated bike insurance and – as with any financial product – it’s worth shopping around to find a competitive quote and a provider you feel confident trusting.
Just remember that with any insurance product you want to find the best price for the right cover, not necessarily the cheapest. There’s no point paying less for insurance if it doesn’t provide the support you need when you come to claim.
As with any insurance product, take the time to understand what limitations there are. For example, if you’re using your bike for work – say as a courier – then the insurer may not cover that.
So do you actually need it? Most people would agree that kids riding bikes or people who only cycle in fairly unpopulated areas don’t need third-party insurance.
If you’re regularly riding through towns and cities it may be worth considering. But, since it seems unlikely Professor Winston will succeed, it’s certainly not compulsory.