Bike insurance and the law
Accident insurance for bicyclists
Oregon bicyclists who are also car owners pay for insurance coverage on their automobiles that also covers their families while riding bicycles. A few bicyclists realize that automobile insurance also covers bicyclists and pedestrians and that, when an accident happens all available resources must be used to pay for the consequences. Previous articles have discussed the various types of Oregon automobile insurance. The purpose of this article is to discuss insurance options for bicyclists under Oregon law that will pay for a potentially catastrophic accident involving collision with a motor vehicle.
Some bicyclists have sworn off motor vehicles entirely and use bicycles as their sole means of transportation. While this decision is commendable in making a lifestyle choice that eases traffic congestion and pollution while promoting physical vitality, the carless life does eliminate many insurance options. When a car free bicyclist who has no family household member or house mate listing the bicyclist as a named insured on an automobile insurance policy is involved in an accident on a bicycle, then the injured rider must make any claim for damages against the insurance of the other person involved in the collision. It is an unfortunate fact that many drivers who cause the most serious accidents have no liability insurance whatsoever. While driving without bike insurance online is illegal under Oregon law, and is legal cause for a drivers license suspension, if a bicyclist is hurt by a negligent driver without insurance, then there may be no insurance coverage whatsoever to pay for medical costs and other damages.
Of course, individual health insurance policies or health maintenance organization programs may be available to pay medical expenses separate and apart from some type of accident coverage. However, these policies, like stand alone disability policies, provide coverage regardless of the cause of injury or disability and cannot be used to reimburse for damages for pain and suffering, impairment of earning capacity and property damage. While a bicyclist can piece together a patchwork of health and disability quad bike insurance to cover some accident related costs, only a policy associated with paying damages for bodily injury claims will fully compensate a bicyclist seriously injured due to the fault of a motorist.
Inusrance for bicyclists without cars
It has been frustrating for bicyclists without cars to attempt to obtain coverage for potential injuries or cheap bike insurance. No companies presently offer bodily insurance for bicyclists without to automobile policies. Bicyclists advocates have attempted to fill this void in a number of ways. The most recent effort has been undertaken by the League of american bicyclists in order to provide bike insurance quote benefits to members. Non traditional insurance brokers have explored these potential products, but it has been difficult to quantify the numbers of potential purchasers and the scope of the costs on the risks. Jeff Lang of Gale’s creek insurance in Portland has met with the national leadership of the League of american bicyclists to explore alternative multi bike insurance coverages. He reports that obtaining accurate data on how many bicyclist ride who do not also have applicable car insurance is difficult and that there is little information available to the public about the damages level associated with the types of accident that would be covered under “bicycle only” insurance. While he has been successful in creating non traditional bike insurance quotes products that have been turned into viable offerings, such a coverage for participants in golf tournaments, so far he has not been successful in assembling a package for classic bike insurance.
The League of american bicyclists has recently offered a type of mountain bike insurance coverage that is a step in the right direction, but is limited to roadside service for members with bicycle break downs. They do this through the Better world bicycle club, which acts as a broker for auto insurance for League of american bicyclists members but it still only sells the same insurance products traditionally available to motor bike insurance.
How to obtain best bike insurance coverage ? How much is bike insurance ?
At the present time in Oregon, one way to obtain road bike insurance for a bicyclist is to obtain a drivers license and buy an inexpensive car. If a person were to buy a 1972 Chevrolet Nova for $350.00 (in other words, buying a very cheap car, as long as the car is not a “performance” muscle car), then the Oregon mandatory insurance amount for liability coverage is $25,000.00, which carries a corresponding coverage for Under insured motorist coverage (Uim) and Uninsured motorist coverage (Um) of $ 25,000.00. Since a person cannot buy Um / Uim coverage in an amount greater than his or her liability coverage, the person who wants to obtain a higher level of protection must pay to increase both coverages. Fortunately, higher levels of temporary bike insurance for persons with a safe driving record is usually not expensive, particularly where the underlying automobile is considered a low risk vehicle. If a person wants to use the medical benefits and wage loss provision of Personal injury protection, which is no fault, then higher coverage can also be obtained at a reasonable cost in Oregon.
While it may seem to be a bizarre solution and a gigantic step backwards for a bicycle zealot to have to buy a car in order to protect themselves from a catastrophic accident caused by a uninsured motorist, it is a possible solution. Fortunately, the costs associated with higher levels of coverage is quite reasonable relative to the cost of the first $25,000.00 of insurance. For example, one of the staffers at Gale’s creek insurance (which also serves as the broker for the League of american bicyclists, Better world club car insurance offerings) related that a $250,000.00 automobile policy coupled with 250,000.00 Um / Uim policy on a low risk car would cost approximately $500.00 per year, a relatively modest cost for the ability to make a claim against one’s own bike insurer policy for damage if a serious accident is caused by an uninsured motorist.
In addition, additional coverage can be obtained for a relatively modest price if a bicyclist is interested in insuring both car and home with the same company because this creates the opportunity for purchase of an excess personal umbrella / liability policy for coverage amounts up to $1,000,000 or more. These excess coverage policies include the bike insurer coverage included in many homeowners policies and also contain an option for purchase of an Um / Uim policy that “stacks”, or is excess above the auto policy. In the situation described above the excess Um / Uim policy could be placed on top of the car policy for $200.00 more per year for total coverage of $1,000,000.00. Gale’s creek insurance reports that excess umbrella policies can also be purchased in conjunction with renters insurance so that home ownership is not necessary so long as associated autos are covered through the same company.
Why have dirt bike insurance ? Why compare bike insurance ?
While auto insurance companies have done a fair job (out of economic self interest) in calculating the accident frequency for automobile usage, there are no accurate figures for bicyclists. One rule of thumb frequently mentioned is that a high mileage bicyclist is likely to get into an accident about every seven years which involves some personal injury. While most cases probably only involve a scraped knee or elbow, when motor vehicles are added to the traffic equation on the street, experienced riders know that collisions with cars can have catastrophic consequences. Though none of us in the bicycle advocacy community like to dwell on risks associated with transporting ourselves without a protective steel exoskeleton, nevertheless it is important to think about the burden placed upon our family and friends if we were to get in a serious accident caused by some idiot driver who cannot pay for our damages. If we can buy short term bike insurance which covers us and our family members on their bicycles, as well as any owned automobiles (including liability for our own driving mistakes and homeowners liability), for a cost of less than $1000.00 per year, then it begins to sound like a pretty good investment.
Sometimes, in bike safety classes I tell people that the reason increasingly large amounts of bike insurence coverage are a better deal than minimal amounts of converge is that people who buy a lot of insurance for bike never seem to be the ones to get hurt. If large electric bike insurance limits are indeed a talisman against a bad accident, so be it. As a bike lawyer, it is one of the worst experiences imaginable to investigate a client’s serious accident, learn the bicyclist was doing everything right, but then the motorist who caused the accident has no insurance, and the bicyclist, because he or she does not own a car, has no coverage whatsoever to pay for medical bills and damages.
What does the future hold ?
Jeff Lang at Gale’s creek insurance is determined to work with the League of american bicyclists to devise a collection of figures to provide accurate risk and cost information to bike insurance compare underwriters in order to provide insurance for folks who depend exclusively on the bicycle for transportation. In Oregon alone, there would be many potential customers for motocross bike insurance product. However, in the meantime, we are aware of no coverage currently available that affords the equivalent of Um / Uim motorist coverage for bicyclists who have no motor vehicle. The League of american bicyclists is keen to offer its members some type of accident pedal bike insurance coverage, but to date the market has not been tapped.. In the meantime, the only practical alternative is to become a named insured on a motor vehicle and then raise the insurance limits to provide a reasonable level of coverage. While it is ironic that safety minded and risk averse bicyclists who have weaned themselves from car ownership may go back to owning a car just to be insured against idiot drivers, until we find an insurance company willing to underwrite this type of coverage, there are few alternatives for bicyclists. Health insurance coverage and disability coverage do provide some protection for folks without automobiles to take the sting out of an accident, but the coverage is limited to medical costs and wage loss.
Finally, for careful bicyclists who already own cars, it is important to remember that existing automobile coverage in Oregon includes Pip and Um / Uim insurance while on their bicycles and that it is probably a wise investment to substantially increase coverage amounts “just in case”.
Unbeknownst to many cyclists, insurance to cover cycling related damages is generally pieced together from a combination of auto insurance, health insurance and homeowners / renters insurance. Until recently, there was no specific “bike insurance companies” to cover situations where there was no available automobile, medical or homeowners / renters insurance. This article will briefly review coverage in common situations and discuss the new custom bike insurance that should be available in Washington and Oregon by the time you read this.
Bike versus car (motorist at fault) :
As a cyclist, if you are hit by a car and the accident is the driver’s fault, your medical bills may be covered by the motorist’s Personal injury protection (Pip) coverage, your own automobile Pip coverage and / or your health insurance. In some states Pip coverage is optional, and not all drivers carry it. In Washington, the driver’s Pip insurance is primary, regardless of who is at fault. The cyclist’s Pip coverage is secondary, and the cyclist’s health insurance is third in line. The latter will typically refuse to pay medical bills until all available Pip coverage has been exhausted.
If you are unable to work due to an accident, your lost wages may be covered by the motorist’s Pip policy, your Pip policy, the driver’s liability policy and / or your automobile Underinsured motorist (Uim) coverage. Like Pip, Uim insurance is an optional coverage that most drivers carry as part of their automobile policy, and it covers a cyclist if the driver who caused the accident does not have adequate liability insurance.
Your bodily injury damages, including pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, etc. may be covered by the motorist’s liability policy and / or your Uim coverage.
Your property damage is covered by the driver’s auto liability insurance.
Sections above assume that the driver who you hit is insured. If the car was not insured, your automobile Pip and Uim coverage would step in to cover your damages, except for the property damages (i.e. your bike, accessories, etc.). In this case, you could make a claim with your homeowners / renters insurance, but such a claim may not be worthwhile to pursue because of the deductible and the impact on future premiums.
Bike versus car (cyclist at fault) :
If you cause an accident and damage the car or injure its occupants, your automobile insurance for bikes policy will not cover such claims, but your homeowners / renters insurance may provide liability coverage. You will not be able to recover bodily injury damages such as those outlined in sections above, but because Pip is “no fault” coverage, your medical bills may still be covered by the driver’s Pip, your Pip and / or your health insurance. Likewise, related wage loss may be covered by either or both PIP policies. Your property damage may be covered by your homeowners / renters insurance, but as stated above, the claim may not be worthwhile.
What if you do not own a car or a home, or do not have health insurance or renters insurance ? If this is the case and someone who is not insured injures you, or you simply crash on your own, you could face a mountain of debt. While insurance companies in countries such as Canada and England have offered compare bike insurance online to cyclists for some time now, there was no such coverage available in the United States until recently. A Texas based company now offers basic cheap bike insurance quotes to cyclists or off road bike insurance and sometime the company will be extending its coverage to cyclists in Washington, Oregon, California, Virginia and Illinois.
The basic plan will cost $99 per year and provides $1,000 in property damage, $1,000 medical and $25,000 accidental death and theft coverages. This chinese bike insurance will not provide any sort of liability coverage should the cyclist injure someone else. Nor will it provide Uim coverage for damages such as pain and suffering, disfigurement or loss of enjoyment of life should the cyclist be injured by someone who does not have adequate insurance. The property, medical and theft benefits are on a “per occurrence” basis, which means it’s possible to file multiple claims per year if the need arises. Property damage is subject to a $500 deductible and is for a predetermined amount, established upon purchasing the policy and by paying an additional $15 for every $1,000 increase in coverage. For example, if you wanted to insure your bike for $5,000, you would pay a premium of $159 ($99 for the first $1,000 plus $60 for additional $4,000).
The medical benefit is an “excess” policy, meaning it will only pay out after your other health coverage, if any, is exhausted. Theft modified bike insurance coverage is subject to a deductible, which is the greater sum of either $250 or ten percent of the bike’s value, up to a maximum of $500. Additional benefits include a mandatory annual three hour safety training seminar through the League of american bicyclists.
While this new monthly bike insurance does not provide all the coverages available through automobile, homeowners / renters and health insurance, it does provide some basic coverage for the cyclist who does not own a car, have medical insurance or own a home.
Locating the right coverage to satisfy your cycling claim can be a complicated puzzle. While the above scenarios are typical, remember that each situation is different and outcomes depend on the facts of each individual case, the wording of the applicable insurance policy and the laws of specific jurisdictions. If you are involved in a cycling accident, please consult with both your insurance agent and a competent cycling attorney. Ride safely !