Cyclists warned to check home insurance as rocketing bike cost outpaces payouts for theft

With more people out on their bikes due to the warm weather, cyclists are being warned that their home insurance may not cover the cost of a replacement if it was stolen. 

Some 12 per cent of policies do not cover bikes at all, according to research from financial information service Defaqto. 

It also found that, while the cost of a bike shot up during the pandemic as people sought a Covid-safe alternative to public transport, insurance cover limits have not.  

Defaqto said that 20 per cent of home insurance policies that covered bike theft offered less than £1,000, and 5 per cent less than £500. 

Cyclists are being warned to check their home insurance as some will not cover for theft 

The growing number of people opting for bikes has pushed prices up, with some road bikes now selling for more than £10,000.

Cycling has been increasing in popularity over the past decade and especially this last year in lockdown, with the Bicycle Association reporting a 60 per cent increase in retail sales.

Sports England also estimated almost nine million people cycled each week during the first lockdown in spring 2020.

However, increased demand, combined with supply problems due to Brexit and Covid has pushed up prices by 26 per cent.

Today a road bike can cost between £700 and £10,000 and this price can go up with accessories such as helmets, lights and non-standard saddles.

The recent easing of restrictions has also led to an increase in bike thefts.

For those who have home contents insurance, 78 per cent of policies now have some cover for bikes stolen from the home although 12 per cent provide no cover at all.

However, a major problem is that the amount of cover has not kept up with the rising price of bikes.

Those who purchased a bike before lockdown and need to claim for theft now may find the amount of cover will not be enough to buy them a like-for-like replacement. 

Some 15 per cent of policies only pay out between £500 to £999 for stolen bikes, whilst 5 per cent had cover limits below £500. 

Whilst 63 per cent of policies covered owners for bikes worth £2,000 or more, the upper limit varies. This could cut off owners who have higher-end bicycles.  

Pedal cycles in the home No. of Products % of Products
No cover 46 12%
Less than £500 17 5%
£500 to £999 56 15%
£1,000 to £1,499 8 2%
£1,500 to £1,999 9 2%
£2,000 or more 238 63%
not stated 3 1%
TOTAL 377 100%
Source: Defaqto      

This is especially true of bicycles stolen away from the home with only 29 per cent of home insurance policies covering bikes worth £2,000 or more as standard.

Cyclists are now encouraged to check with their insurer to make sure their bikes are covered away from home.

Brian Brown, consumer finance expert at Defaqto, said: ‘It is great to see so many people cycling again. It is better for the environment, good for your health and is also great fun.

‘It is no surprise that it is so popular, particularly given the past year, and it is a shame this has pushed the cost of bikes up by so much.

‘Thousands of bikes are stolen every year and unfortunately you may find that your insurance does not provide enough cover for a replacement now. It is worth checking what cover you have and speaking to your insurer if you need to change this.

‘You may also want to consider a specialist bike insurance policy if you have one of the more expensive models.’ 

Pedal cycles away from the home No. of Products % of Products
No cover 5 1%
Less than £500 31 8%
£500 to £999 142 38%
£1,000 to £1,499 52 14%
£1,500 to £1,999 33 9%
£2,000 or more 111 29%
not stated 3 1%
TOTAL 377 100%
Source: Defaqto      

Separate research from LV= General Insurance this week revealed it had seen a 97 per cent increase in people adding bikes to home insurance policies since this time last year.

This also represents a 168 per cent increase since April 2019.

It said customers in the South East added the highest number of bikes to policies last year across the UK, with Northern Ireland the least.

As restrictions continue to ease this month and the weather begins to improve, it expects that families and newly flexible commuters will beat estimates again this summer, following a previous peak in adding bikes to home insurance policies in July 2020.

Sarah Smith, head of home underwriting at LV= General Insurance said: ‘It’s really important consumers understand their home insurance policy when it comes to bike cover, as this can differ. 

‘With the increase in the price of bikes this is particularly important, as you may want to consider additional insurance for higher value bikes. Do also make sure bikes are locked away securely, as we’re likely to see a rise in thefts from gardens as restrictions ease.’ 

Top safety tips for new cyclists

1. Start small: If you are new to cycling, especially in an urban area, or haven’t been on a bike in years, pedal around quiet, local streets or in nearby parks first.

2. Choose a bike that’s right for you: Before you set off, make sure your bike is the right size for you, and meets your needs. Bike shops can help with this.

3. Take lessons: It might be worth requesting a free cycling lesson from your local council, or perhaps asking a friend or family member to show you the ropes.

4. Invest in the right gear: There is no law enforcing helmet use, and it’s your choice, but it’s worth investing in one as they ensure your safety. Also consider buying a secure lock, bike lights and a puncture repair kit, to keep your bike safe wherever you go.

5. Know your route: Cycling to work might seem simple, but planning is essential to avoid the busier roads.

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