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Cover Your Quiver – Do I Need Extra Insurance for My Performance Bicycles?

Author: Martin Lundgren

Your unbiased, practical review of bicycle insurance for every type of bicycle in your garage.

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Type “bicycle insurance” into your favorite search engines and you’ll get one hundred and eleven million reasons, from thousands of resellers or insurance companies, to buy bicycle insurance. Even established news organs, like Forbes and Bloomberg are into it, with their articles recommending bicycle insurance peppered with ads and recommendations from the range of bicycle insurance providers who are, invariably, advertisers.

It is no wonder that bicycle insurance coverage has taken off in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered an explosive increase in the use and sale of bicycles, with single year sales increasing 57% in the United States between April 2020 and April 2021. If you were lucky enough to score a bike of any sort during the pandemic, you likely added this to your stable of bikes and now you’ve got a garage full of bicycles, a quiver of loved, trusty, maybe classic machines and you’re in need of some sound advice about insuring these, often costly treasures. We’ve dug in to determine whether you might actually need bicycle insurance, when you might need specific bicycle coverage and how to navigate the complexities of coverage without spending too much.

We’ll discuss, first, what bicycle insurance is and why you might need it. We’ll have a look at which bikes in your quiver you might want to insure and consider the coverage amounts you might need. We’ll also consider homeowner’s insurance policies, discuss insurance riders, deductibles and named exclusions then dive into the details of obtaining insurance for your specific riding needs and interests. So, whether you ride competitively, are a weekend warrior, casual cruiser or bike commuter and whether you ride a klunker, a classic beach cruiser, an e-bike, cargo bike or a high-performance, carbon-fiber road bike, or all of the above, read on for a practical perspective on your bicycle insurance coverage needs.

What is Bicycle Insurance?
Bicycle insurance is specific insurance coverage for bicycles, be they road bikes, mountain bikes, e-bikes, cargo bikes and even tricycles. When many people think of bicycle insurance, they think it’s for cycle racers, triathletes and riders of high-performance road bikes. While this is certainly true, to an extent and certainly recommended for competitive cyclists, the varied types of bicycles, made from a dizzying array of often expensive materials and featuring widely varied accessories and parts, you might need bicycle insurance even if you’re just rolling around the neighborhood grabbing groceries on your cargo bike or styling the waterfront on your classic cruiser.

With the advances in materials technology of the last 50 or more years, bicycles have become increasingly lighter, faster and more durable. Bikes, as a result, have become increasingly easier to steal, despite similar advances in security technology. It was much harder to boost a 60 pound “safety” bicycle in 1923 than it is to steal a 21-speed titanium or carbon fiber racing bicycle in 2023. You’re fast on your road bike, a thief is faster, and they’re looking for opportunities to score. Bikes are used for joyrides and dumped or quickly traded for cash and other merchandise and stolen bikes are very seldom recovered.

The materials used to build bicycles have changed over the last several decades, as have the nature of bicycles and their overall cost. Most homeowner’s insurance policies don’t typically bother to keep pace with the cost of bicycles, despite the increases in popularity, and exclusions or limitations in your policy may result in a net loss if your favorite bike is stolen. Hence the arrival of specific bicycle insurance coverage. The cost and value of your bicycle and its components are key considerations for deciding to obtain or forego bicycle insurance coverage.

In addition to coverage from theft, many bicycle insurance policies, like those from widely used carriers like Sundays Insurance or Velo Insurance also cover accidents, injuries, liability, medical and damage from transit. Your component upgrades and high-end bicycle apparel can also be covered. There are also specific policies for competitive riders which can cover crashes, and the subsequent expenses, which occur during races. It gets to be a little much, all the coverage options, so we’ll stick here with some of the basics like covering the cost of replacing your bikes in the event of accident or theft and only touching on the needs of racers and racing enthusiasts briefly, leaving here the recommendation that, if you are a racer, you should already have competitive racing insurance and can find additional discounts on your policies for being a member of your race organizing body.

Bicycle Insurance Factors to Consider
Among the myriad factors to consider when evaluating bicycle insurance are the age and condition of your bike or bikes. While you might truly love that old cruiser more than your romantic partner, while it might be a dream to ride and own, the value of the bike, in the eyes of an insurance adjuster, might be considerably less as the bike ages. Age and use, technically, depreciate the value of your bike considerably if damaged or stolen. Your compensation for the loss will reflect this. Depreciation clauses, in insurance terms, reduce the amounts you are compensated for the bicycle as it’s ridden and as the machine ages, despite your expert care. Clearly, many standard policies miss the point and value of your classic road bike. We just need to take this into consideration when reviewing policy details, even with specific bicycle insurance policies. Homeowners’ policies don’t consider bikes specifically as bicycles, but rather sporting goods equipment, with limitations for reimbursement. Explicit zero depreciation and replacement cost policies are available which will reimburse you for the original value of the bicycle regardless of age and with no depreciation, if selected, and under certain conditions. Some policies, for example, will only replace the full value of your bike if you purchase full value replacement coverage within a specified period of purchasing the bicycle. Premiums for the different types of coverage will vary, and insurance companies have clever ways of tying you into specific riders for all your bikes, so keep the replacement value, actual cash value and depreciation costs in mind when evaluating insurance needs for your stable of bicycles; not all of them may be worth replacing at a full replacement value. A little advanced thinking can save you more than a bit on premiums for certain bikes. Riders, cycling aficionados and avid cycling families with large numbers of bicycles in their garage may benefit from the premium discounts available for multiple bicycles, often 10% for every additional insured bike.

What About Insuring E-Bikes?
While you don’t need insurance in most states to ride an e-bike on public roadways, many homeowners’ and condo insurance policies won’t cover theft, loss or damage of an e-bike as they’re considered “motorized vehicles” and are often excluded in coverages. Specific policies do exist to cover electric and power-assisted bicycles and some bicycle insurance companies will only insure e-bikes and e-cargo bikes that have pedals and meet specific state requirements. E-bikes are frequently classified by states as Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3 bikes. These categories are broad and vary by state, but more than half the states in the US have adopted these classes. The classes are indicated by the level and assistance of the electric motor, the top-speed of the bicycle, how the throttle is configured to work with the pedals and the wattage output of the batteries. You can typically find specific e-bike classification guidelines for your state online, through, as with Washington state, the State Department of Natural Resources. It’s a good idea to understand your state classification system for e-bikes before shopping for insurance, so you can avoid paying for a class that differs from your bike, and also avoid the potential for a denied claim from a misclassified bike. States, in recent years, have begun offering incentives and vouchers for e-bikes. It’s likely that, if you don’t already, you’ll be increasingly incentivized to add an e-bike to your stable so it’s important to make sure you have adequate coverage, from theft or damage, for these costly and complex machines. If you already have an e-bike in your collection, you’ll want to review your homeowner’s policy straight away and identify any exclusions in coverage which may be reason to deny your claim.

Doesn’t My Homeowner’s Policy Cover My Bicycle?
Speaking of denying claims, it’s time to review your homeowner’s or condo policy and figure out whether it’s worth it to you to take on the added expense of specific bicycle insurance coverage. According to the 529 Garage, a bicycle is stolen in North America, roughly every 30 seconds. Bike theft has reached epidemic proportions, impacting nearly 2 million riders every year, states 529 Garage founder. A Bloomberg report suggests that only 2.4 percent of stolen bikes were recovered and that year round cyclists are 90 percent more likely than casual riders to have a bike stolen. As your enthusiasm for bicycles, and the number and variety of bicycles in your garage continues to grow, your chances of having a bike stolen at home or around town increases exponentially.

A typical renters’, homeowners’ or condo insurance policy does cover the theft, loss or damage of a bicycle, but there are limitations. Policies will cover, for example, theft from home but will exclude a theft from the local coffee shop, public library or office complex. As mentioned earlier, e-bikes are often excluded on homeowners’ policies as they are considered “motorized vehicles.” Homeowner’s policies won’t cover the cost of replacing a bicycle involved in a crash either. Bicycles, except e-bikes, under most of these policies, are considered “sporting goods equipment” and would be covered, to limited extent. The reimbursement for the loss is determined by the coverage selected and impacted, of course, by your deductible. Homeowners’ policies won’t, in most cases and without purchasing specific policy riders, adequately cover the full replacement cost of a high-end, accessory-decked racing bike and you would be hard-pressed to find a homeowner’s policy that didn’t factor in depreciation, even of a classic Campagnolo.

You’ve got some options to evaluate with your homeowner’s policy, including deductible amounts and replacement cost value or actual costs value considerations. All of these details will factor into whether your bicycles are adequately covered in the event of theft from home or damage, from a fire or other disaster, and whether you’ll actually see enough money to cover the cost of replacing your beloved machines. In most cases, with a deductible and the actual cash value, unless you have specific riders on your policy for those high-end bicycles, it’s likely you’ll be seeing only a small portion of the total cost to replace it. Of course, the coverage options and deductibles you choose, like replacement cost coverage, greatly impact the out-of-pocket cost, or premiums, of your homeowner’s coverage. The general rule for any insurance is, the lower your deductible, the higher the loss compensation and the riders you obtain, the higher the cost of your annual insurance premium. With separate bicycle insurance coverage for your bikes, you can suffer a loss from theft or accident, get adequately reimbursed, and your homeowner’s policy rates won’t increase. Adding additional riders to your policy can secure and increase coverage for specific items like a titanium racing bike, but these policy riders will also increase your premium, and won’t’ help at all in the event of a crash or other incident. There’s also the deductibles to consider and, of course, the exclusions, often in the fine print, detailing whether something like an e-bike will be covered, if at all. It’s a good idea to read and understand the fine print before deciding on additional coverage or exercising the option for specific bicycle insurance coverage.

How Much Coverage Do I Need?
So you’ve got a couple of great bikes in your garage. The kids have their bikes and so does your spouse. You’ve got the cargo bike and the e-bike to consider and you’ve discussed coverages with your trusted insurance agent or financial advisor, and decided it’s time to get some bicycle insurance. Now that you’ve made the decision to move forward, how much coverage do you actually need? This will, of course, vary by the types, ages and affixed components of the bicycles you own as well as whether or not you are racing, commuting, traveling or just casually rolling across town. Most reputable bicycle insurance carriers offer a range of specific coverage options depending upon the type and usage of the bicycles covered. Sundays Insurance, for example, bases “your monthly premiums purely on you and your bike’s details.” Coverage can also include zero depreciation and can, if you race competitively, reimburse the costs of race entry fees if you’re injured on your bicycle before an event. Some policies also include “worldwide coverage” if you often travel with your bicycles.

There are as many coverage options as there are types of bicycles. The cost of coverage also varies depending upon whether you’re a commuter, road racer, downhill mountain bike aficionado or e-bike enthusiast. Just like other insurance policies, deductibles and liability protection will impact the cost of coverage which can range anywhere from $100-$300 annually, per bicycle. As mentioned, multi-bike discounts are available as well as zero deductible options, and accessory coverage, so the amount of coverage you need will prove very specific to the use and types of bicycles you’re keeping in your garage.

Should I Ensure All the Bikes in My Garage?
With the cost of coverage, with depreciation and replacement values varying the way they do, it might not make good financial sense to cover all of the bikes in your stable. This might just be the beauty of standalone bicycle insurance policies. If you’ve got a couple of high-end racers, an e-bike and a cargo bike in your quiver, you can cover those, at a multi-bike discount, and leave all of the kids beaters and the old beach cruiser to your homeowner’s insurance coverage. Of course, covering a vintage Schwinn Racer for less than a hundred bucks for the year might bring you a little peace of mind in the event of a theft, but it certainly won’t bring back such a cool vintage bicycle.

Keeping in mind how e-bikes are considered by your homeowners’ policy could be enough impetus to just insure your e-bike for the added protection. Most bicycle specific insurance carriers are happy to cover your e-bike or e-cargo bike with sample rates of around $200 for a 2023 power-assisted cargo bike. Some of these policies will also include coverage for transport of a damaged bike, and even cab fare to get you home from a bike accident. Companies like Velosurance offer free cycling apparel coverage, up to $100 per item, as part of their policy perks. So, should you cover every bike in your garage? Perhaps, if you think it’s worth it. Those beaters, however, can likely be replaced under a homeowner’s policy for less than it might cost you to insure them under a separate bicycle insurance policy.

Regardless of whether you’re insuring your entire stable of bicycles and cycling gear, you’ll most certainly need to detail and secure the bicycles you do own. With every bike in your collection, be sure, at the very least, to record the serial numbers on each bike, take detailed photos of the bike and components, and save the purchase receipts, if you can.

The odds of recovering a stolen bike, as noted, aren’t great. There are things you can do to protect your property, at least from theft. In addition to quality bike locks, or locks specifically approved by bicycle insurance carriers, you can take a few additional precautions. These precautions are a moderate expense that may also save you a few bucks on your premium. You can register your bike with the 529 GarageBike Index, or your local municipality to aid in recovery. You can also affix a “DNA liquid” to your bike, a transparent, traceable liquid with a unique signature, for further protection.

Bikes remain the most sustainable, and enjoyable, mode of transportation. They’re a joy to ride, to fix, upgrade, appreciate and enjoy. They’re also targets for theft. You’re uncompromising in your pursuit of cycling and equipment excellence, so taking these extra precautions and geeking out a bit on theft deterrence, locks and insurance coverage shouldn’t be terribly painful. As relentless targets for thieves, these precautionary steps, and thoughtful insurance coverage will help keep you on the road and relishing your rides without compromise or undue expense.

The information in this article is not intended as tax, accounting, or legal advice. Read the full disclaimer here.