The Need for Bicycle Insurance in San Francisco
The SMFTA 2012 State of Cycling Report estimates that there are over 10,000 bicycles in San Francisco. The latest US Census Data shows that 17% of San Franciscans ride weekly. Ridership has doubled since 2006, and now bicycles make up the primary mode of daily transportation for up to 4.3% of city dwellers. On an average day in 2016, there were an estimated 82,000 bike trips in San Francisco. But, as a bicycle accident lawyer I understand that an increase in ridership can also mean an increase in expensive injuries.
It makes sense then that the insurance industry would respond with policies to cover cyclists and their gear. However, that’s not the case. While a number of insurance companies (and branches of insurance companies) began offering bicycle insurance coverage from 2010 on, the trend never really took off. Many of the companies have closed up shop or dropped essential liability coverage, opting instead to simply insure the bike itself against damage or theft.
Do You Need Standalone Bicycle Insurance?
Standalone bicycle insurance is a rarity in San Francisco but The Insurance Information Institute says that most cyclists are covered (to an extent) by their homeowners and renters insurance. These policies often provide limited liability protection as well as no-fault medical coverage. However, the maximum payout in such cases is often $5,000 or less—not even enough to cover a few days in a hospital.
Most of these policies simply don’t work for professional or pro-am cyclists either who often spend thousands of dollars on their bikes. Filing a claim for a $5,000 bicycle would nearly tap out any average homeowners insurance policy.
Bicycle Insurance Riders
Cyclists who need more coverage can add a rider (no pun intended) to a current insurance policy but that can be costly. Covering a $1,000 bike could cost well over $150 per year. Plus, those costs aren’t regulated across the industry. Individual insurers will base premiums on average use, where the bicycle is ridden, where it’s stored, and even the weather.
The Options for Standalone Bicycle Insurance
As a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco I have to say the idea of bicycle insurance is a good one for daily commuters. However, the implementation is lacking—there simply aren’t enough providers to offer competitive plans and rates. Why? Unfortunately, bicyclists seem like a riskier investment for insurance companies. Not only do riders who are in accidents suffer more severe injuries, bikes are more difficult to protect from theft or damage than automobiles.
However, there are a few insurance companies who market specifically to riders offering coverage for:
- Crash/Accidental Damage
- Damage/Loss in Transit
- Roadside Assistance
Velosurance partnered with Market American Insurance Company, to offer the above options on a global scale. In addition they offer discounts at a national network of bike shops and policy discounts for members of several professional cycling organizations.
Markel Bicycle Insurance
Markel bicycle insurance offers a variety of coverage options. The major difference between these and the ones offered by Velosurance is that Markel’s worldwide coverage is an add-on, not part of the standard policy.
Bigring Insurance is underwritten by Transamerica Casualty Insurance Company and administered by Health Special Risk, Inc.. They offer similar policies with similar benefits (including discounts at certain specialty bike shops). However, they do also offer bicycle rental reimbursement. This is a great option for San Franciscans who use their bicycle as a primary means of transportation.
Evaluating Your Risk
If you’re considering whether or not you need bicycle insurance in San Francisco, it’s important to estimate your personal risk. Ask yourself:
- How often do you ride?
- Do you ride in the city’s “Danger Zones?”
- Do you ride at night or in inclement weather?
- Do you own a high-end bicycle?