Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bicycle Accident Insurance - Are you covered?

Bicycle Accident Insurance in AmericaBy Danny Workman, an Insurance Examiner
May 26, 12:41 PM

With an increasing number of Americans choosing to ride their bicycles to work as a way of cutting down expenses during the recession, bicycle riders in the U.S. can only buy accidental personal injury coverage if they own a vehicle and are covered by automobile insurance.

Comprehensive bicycle insurance is readily available in some European countries like Switzerland regardless of whether or not the cyclist owns an auto insurance policy.

Author of Bicycling and the Law, former Olympic cyclist Bob Mionske writes that many American cyclists choose not to own cars and should not be discriminated against for making that choice.

Cyclists at the Mercy of Motorists
Focusing on 1,020 fatal accidents from 1994 to 1997, a New York City study titled Killed By Automobile found that motorists were principally responsible for 74% of all accidents and partially at fault for an additional 16% of deadly collisions.

A more recent analysis from Toronto police shows that the top 3 types of crashes involving automobiles and bicycles are caused by:

1. Motorists driving out or turning at controlled intersections
2. Motorists overtaking cyclists
3. Motorists opening vehicle doors in front of cyclists.

Cyclist Injury Insurance in the U.S.
In states that practice tort liability, a cyclist injured in a collision with an automobile is covered under the driver’s auto insurance policy provided that the motorist is at fault for the accident. Even then, the cyclist is out of luck if the driver is either uninsured or insured for an inadequate amount of coverage. To cover potential gaps in coverage, Bob Mionske recommends that cyclists buy as much Uninsured/Underinsured coverage under their own auto insurance policies as possible.

In no-fault and so-called hybrid states, cyclists are covered under the Personal Injury Protection feature of their auto insurance policies. Without owning a vehicle, cyclists again depend on the motorist being insured for an adequate amount of accident insurance that will protect against potentially life-threatening injuries and months off from work.

In all states, cyclists who do not own a vehicle cannot buy insurance protection against uninsured and underinsured motorists.

Bicycle Damage Insurance in the U.S.
Ironically, American cyclists can readily insure their bicycles against theft or damage through their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.

Homeowner and renter coverage may also reimburse personal liability for an insured cyclist’s negligent acts, like skidding into a BMW and causing a nasty scratch. Individual liability policies are also available.

If American cyclists can easily buy insurance to protect against damages to their bicycles and the other guy’s new paint job, why can’t they buy insurance against serious injuries to themselves arising from those same accidents?

MTBLAWGIRL Readers: Any recommendations for the best insurance carriers/coverage? Might be a good time to review your policies just in case your bike is stolen or damaged or worse, you're involved in an auto-bike accident. Stay tuned for another post from yours truly on insurance coverage in Texas.