With the biking season kicking into full gear, it is a good time to consider what insurance would apply if your was in a bicycle accident, or if your bike was damaged or stolen.
If you ask an attorney what you think is a simple question about the law, it is likely that the attorney will give you the same answer regardless of the question, “It Depends.” You would likely get this answer if you asked an attorney, “Do I have insurance for my bicycle?” The answer to this question depends on the circumstances of each specific case. In an attempt to inform you of how you and your bicycle are protected, we will identify the potential coverage for injuries in various situations.
First, if you are injured while riding your bicycle by a motorist and the motorist is at fault, his or her insurance policy would cover your injuries. In Wisconsin, motorists are required to have insurance on their automobiles. Therefore, if the driver of a motor vehicle hits and injures a bicyclist, his or her automobile liability insurance will likely cover the bicyclist’s injuries. However, there are many instances where Wisconsin drivers do not have insurance or do not have enough insurance to cover a bicyclist’s injuries. In those cases, other insurance coverage would be necessary.
If the at fault motorist does not have insurance, does not have adequate insurance, or flees from the scene of the accident, the bicyclist’s automobile insurance policy would likely cover the injuries under the uninsured or underinsured motorist section of the policy. This may seem odd, but your car insurance covers you for injuries you sustain due to being struck by another motorist if you are a pedestrian, on a bike, or even a pogo stick. The specific amount of coverage and terms and conditions of what is covered under the uninsured or underinsured motorist section is defined within the policy. While a bicyclist’s automobile insurance may cover injuries in these situations, many bicyclists do not have automobile insurance providing uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits.
Today, many bicyclists use their bicycle as the sole means of transportation and do not have a vehicle. In these cases, a bicyclist’s health insurance may provide coverage for his or her own injuries. However, health insurance will not pay for injuries until the deductible has been paid and in some cases injuries may not exceed these deductibles.
Second, if the bicyclist is the party at fault and causes injury to another, coverage depends on the type of insurance the bicyclist possesses. Some automobile insurance policies cover the liability of the bicyclist, but in most cases liability of the bicyclist is covered under homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies. Whether you are covered under automobile, homeowner’s, or renter’s insurance depends on the specific language of the policy. In cases with severe injuries, an umbrella policy may also provide extra coverage. Because coverage depends on each policy, if you are an avid bicyclist, it would be beneficial to talk to an insurance agent before selecting the best insurance policy for you.
Third, if a bicycle is stolen or damaged, there is usually coverage under homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. However, the problem of high deductibles may also play a factor in whether to report the stolen or damaged bicycle to your insurance company. For example, if your bicycle was worth $400, and you have a $500 deductible, the insurance company would not pay for replacement of the bicycle. In addition, your premium may go up if you report the claim. On the other hand, if your bicycle is worth more than your deductible, your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance would cover any amount in excess of the deductible. Although a limited solution, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may provide some coverage for your bicycle.
Fourth, if your bicycle is on the bike rack of your vehicle and you pull into the garage and damage the bicycle, for example, some automobile insurers will also provide coverage. However, coverage again depends on the language of each specific insurance policy.
Fifth, if you belong to a bicycling club and are injured on a club ride, you may have insurance through the club. The club can take out insurance that provides medical care coverage and dental coverage to treat injuries suffered in one of their sponsored rides. Typically, this only covers bills as a last resort, after other available insurance has paid. This may be very helpful in meeting a deductible through your health insurer.
If you are an avid bicyclist, be sure to read your insurance policies carefully. Again, coverage usually depends on each specific situation. Therefore, do not hesitate to ask your insurance agent questions or contact an attorney to ensure you are receiving the best benefits possible to protect yourself and your bicycle.