Posted by Lindsay Caron (Reporter) on January 5th, 2010 at 8:43 am
Problems arise when an uninsured motor vehicle operator and a person on a bike without auto insurance collide… Lack of insurance is also a problem in the case of single vehicle crashes, such as when you hit the light rail tracks at the wrong angle and go down.
As I reported in my first piece on bicycle insurance, there is currently no alternative form of automobile insurance for people who do not own cars. If you ride a bicycle and are not covered by car insurance, you should know your options in case of a single-vehicle crash, a hit and run, or a crash with an uninsured motorist.
At-fault motor vehicle operators who have their own auto insurance should be liable for any damages to you and your bike. If you have auto insurance it will most likely cover a crash that you cause, even if you are on your bike.
Problems arise when an uninsured motor vehicle operator and a person on a bike without auto insurance collide, or worse, in the case of a hit-and-run. Lack of insurance is also a problem in the case of single vehicle crashes, such as when you hit the light rail tracks at the wrong angle and go down.
Though health insurance if you have it will (in theory) cover your injuries, it will not cover liability (the damage you do to another’s property), lost wages, pain and suffering, or damage to your bicycle.
So what’s a car-free, health insurance free, cycle-commuter to do? There is no outright equivalent to car insurance offered to those who don’t own cars, but here are some ways our sources have found to fill in the holes:
- Home owners or renters insurance will cover theft or severe damage of your bicycle (usually, varies by policy). These sorts of insurance are often packaged with auto insurance; home owners with auto insurance have an option of an additional $1,000,000 liability coverage. Renters insurance is extremely cheap (often under $15 a month) and may include personal liability coverage as well.
- USA Cycling and Adventure Advocates offer emergency medical coverage for their members. The insurance is intended as a supplement to basic health insurance to cover gaps left by high deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance, but it can be purchased by a member having no insurance. The most comprehensive plan is $46 dollars a month and has a $500 deductible and a $10,000 benefit.
- TriBike Insurance offers accident insurance specifically for triathletes. Their insurance plan has a benefit amount of $20,000, offers optional “excess liability” coverage for damage done to others’ property, and also covers damage to your bicycle. To sign up, your bike must cost at least $3,000.
- Although there is nothing preventing the non-competitive average Joe or Jane with a fancy bike from signing up for either TriBike Insurance or Adventure Advocates, representatives from both assured me their plans are not appropriate for commuters.
- Bike lawyer Ray Thomas recommends purchasing a cheap clunker car, insuring it to cover potential collisions, and parking it permanently in your driveway.
- Another suggestion from Ray Thomas is to pay a friend, family member, or housemate to add you as a “driver” to their auto insurance policy.
None of these solutions is ideal, but they’ll have to suffice until a true bicycle insurance option emerges. Stay tuned for our third article (of three) of special coverage on The Bicycle Insurance Gap.
For more on this topic, see Ms. Caron’s story, Bicycle insurance: Coming to America in 2010?