What is cycling liability insurance and do I need it?

Digby Bodenham By Digby Bodenham

What is cycling liability insurance?

Cyclist liability insurance is similar to third-part only car insurance; it can cover costs if you injure someone or damage their property while you’re out with your bike.

It might be called personal, public or third-party liability in insurance policy documents.

Like car insurance, there are different levels of cycling cover. The most basic policies may focus on liability to ensure you'll be able to cover costs if you cause an accident. More comprehensive insurance will pay out if your bike is damaged or stolen or if you are injured.

Liability doesn’t cover any damage to yourself or your bike, whether you are responsible for the accident or not.

We’ve negotiated discounts for our members from a number of specialist cyclist insurers. We have groups for commuters, new cyclists and mountain bikers that feature a 10% discount on PedalSure policies. They can be tailored to cover you, your bike or both and feature pay outs for broken bones and physio if you have a crash.

If you select a policy just for your bike it's possible to select liability cover on its own, which starts at £1 a month for £1m of cover. PedalSure offers £1m or £2m of cycle liability cover.

We also have a general cycling insurance group, as well as ones for racing cyclists and travel insurance for cyclists.

Although £1m of liability cover sounds like a lot, claims can easily add up. If you cause a car to swerve, crash or even suddenly stop you could face legal costs, medical fees for issues such as whiplash and car repair costs, which can add up if it's an expensive vehicle. That’s a relatively minor incident, if you’re alleged to have caused serious injuries, pay outs can be large.

And it's not just motorists that could need payouts. If you have a cycling collision with a high-paid individual like a CEO or lead singer of a rock band they could sue you for substantial loss of earnings.

Here’s how easy it is to almost cause a crash if you stop paying attention for a second.

Read our guide to the best cycling insurance to see all our deals, our pick of the top providers, information on how much cyclist insurance costs and how to get a cheaper quote.

Do I need cycle liability insurance?

Having liability insurance is not a legal requirement for cyclists but it can be a useful and affordable policy to have.

When other road users argue that cyclists should have insurance, they usually mean personal liability cover.

Although that is a contentious view, it would mean any motorist, pedestrian or property owner would be able to receive a payout to help them with any injuries or damaged caused by a cyclist. And the cyclist would not be hit with a huge bill for a claim they may not be able to afford.

Although there have been rumours about the government introducing mandatory cycling liability insurance, it doesn’t look like it’s happening anytime soon.

And it’s not just drivers and pedestrians who may make a claim, other cyclists on the road and in races may seek compensation after an accident.

If you do have insurance be sure to check you’re covered for races, sportives or other events. Liability exclusions may include cover in the USA or claims from family members. And standard bicycle insurance is unlikely to cover people who make a living using their bike, such as messengers or delivery riders.

However, full cyclist insurance can cover individuals for legal expenses and provide payouts if you are injured or your bike breaks or is stolen.

If you're entering a race in the UK you may need a British Cycling membership, which includes up to £10m of liability cover. However, British Cycling’s policy does not cover claims from other members during races or offer any other insurance benefits.

Phil Cooper, PedalSure CMO, says: "At PedalSure we offer the option of Personal Liability Cover with £1m starting at just £1 per month. It covers you should you be involved in an accident and injure someone else or cause damage to their property whilst riding your bike. Many cyclists believe they would be exempt from any claim but all road users ultimately can be liable for accidents that they cause."

Find out how cycling insurance would have helped a Bought By Many team member after his crash.

The level of cover you need will depend on how you cycle and what you ride, although most cycling policies come with at least £1m of liability cover, which should be plenty.

Of course, if you ride around Chelsea and are worried about scratching a row of supercars you may want to bump that up!

Home and contents insurance can provide some liability cover while you’re out of the house, but it may not include cycling as an activity. Check with your insurer to see what is excluded.

We do also have a home insurance for cyclists group.

How much is cycling liability insurance?

Few providers offer pure cycling liability insurance. British Cycling memberships do include liability cover and packages start at around £30 to £40 a year for adults.

But for a little more it’s possible to get full cycling insurance that includes accident, theft and liability.

PedalSure has a range of policies and the cheapest starts at £4.49 a month, it's also possible to just buy liability cover from them for £1 a month.

You can get 10% off its premiums by joining any of our insurance groups for commuters, new cyclists and mountain bikers.

Check out our cycling insurance, racing cyclist and travel insurance for cyclists groups to get discounted quotes from other providers.

Liability cover for races

Many races require riders to be members of British Cycling. Membership does include liability insurance, however, it does not cover incidents that occur between members during races.

Although specialist cycling insurers cover races, sportives and trials, some may exclude personal liability from event cover or charge an additional fee for it.

If you already have cyclist insurance check your policy documents or call your insurer so that you’re sure of any exclusions.

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