Cycling is a great way to get around, and can be much cheaper than taking public transport or driving. But just because you’re free to ride around town on your bike doesn’t mean you don’t need to think about insurance.
Does your renters insurance cover your bike? Or do you need other protection?
Renters insurance covers your personal property, including your bike, if it is destroyed any one of 16 covered events, or perils listed in your policy, including fire, explosions, riots, volcanic eruptions, vandalism and more.
Theft is also a covered event, but note that your renters insurance policy doesn’t cover losses from flooding or earthquakes.
How much your renters insurance company will reimburse you for a loss of your bike is dependent on the terms of your policy and the location of the loss (see below).
Renters insurance policies include a total amount of coverage (e.g., $25,000) but that coverage includes category limits, which are max amounts your insurance will pay out for certain categories, like jewelry, art, and bikes. Category limits vary by policy, but are generally between $1,000 to $2,000 per category. And any claim is also subject to you paying your deductible first.
Renters insurance protects your stuff no matter where it is — whether in your home or out in the world — but how much coverage you have depends on where your property was when the incident happened.
For example, if your bike is stolen from your home, it is covered, up to the category limits. But if your bike is stolen from outside a store, while you still have coverage, it is subject to an additional limit for the applies to property away from your home — usually just 10% of your total limits, for most companies.
If you have an expensive bicycle, you can talk to your insurance agency about adding an endorsement that provides additional coverage for your bike no matter where it is.
If you destroy your bike and it’s your fault — maybe you aren’t paying attention and crash into a wall — your renters insurance policy won’t pay to replace your bike.
But if your bike is destroyed by someone else —perhaps it’s locked up on a bike rack and a car hits it and crumples it — your renters insurance would cover your bike, because being destroyed by a vehicle (not your own) is a covered peril.
Renters insurance policies include no-fault coverage to provide medical payments to people you accidentally hurt, whether in your home or not, and liability coverage in those same cases in the event you are sued.
This liability coverage explicitly doesn’t cover you when driving a car (that’s what auto insurance is for), but it does cover you while riding your bike.
So if you run into your neighbor with your bike and he breaks his arm, your renters insurance policy’s liability protection applies. Your neighbor can make a claim through your renters insurance company to pay your ER bill, and if he later sues you, your liability coverage will provide legal costs and protection up to your limits.
One important kind of coverage you may need as a cyclist is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and renters insurance does not include it.
If you’re on your bike and you are hit by a car, that driver’s insurance will be responsible for your hospital bills and replacing your bike. But what happens if the driver that hits you doesn’t have insurance, or doesn’t have enough to pay for your injuries?
If you’re driving a car and you’re hit by an uninsured motorist, your own auto coverage, if it includes uninsured/underinsured motorist motorist coverage, steps in to pay what the other driver cannot.
If you have an auto insurance policy, that coverage also applies if an uninsured motorist hits you while you’re on your bike.
If you don’t have auto insurance, you may be able to get uninsured motorist coverage through either a non-owner car insurance policy or a bicycle insurance policy — see below.
If you have a bicycle worth more than $1,000, you may want to look into getting a separate bicycle insurance policy, which would insure your bike at its full value at home and away from home.
Bicycle insurance covers your bike for accidental damage and offers additional coverage options including uninsured motorist coverage and worldwide coverage.
Read more about bicycle insurance.
Logan Sachon is the co-founder of The Billfold, a groundbreaking personal finance site for millennials that was named one of Time's 25 Best Blogs of 2012. Her work has been published in New York Magazine, Glamour, The Guardian, BuzzFeed and more.