Bicycles are fun, healthy and environmentally neutral. They are also cheap transportation, particularly in the city where relatively short distances make the use of bicycles to run errands, get to work and drop off the kids very doable. More often these days it seems that lots of people are forgoing the considerable costs of car ownership and using their bikes, along with public transportation and their own feet, to get around. Great. But, one risk that comes with not owning a car is not having car insurance. If you are injured by a motorist while riding your bike your own auto insurance may provide you with some important protection. It may protect you if the driver either lacks insurance or has insufficient insurance coverage. If you do not have health insurance, the medical payment provision of your auto policy may help cover your treatment costs. Without auto insurance, the bicyclist is more vulnerable to financial calamity should he or she require medical care after being injured by a motorist.
Increasingly, however, there are options out there for the non car owning bicyclist. One option that has been around for a while is non-owners car insurance. I have written about that before and I recommend looking into it. Recently, I became aware of another option available to Illinois cyclists: Bicycle insurance. This year one insurance company, Markel American, began offering these policies to cyclists in our state. The company's website offers the means to get a detailed insurance quote. Curious, I investigated. What I found was that for $310 a year, $25.83 a month, I could receive $25,000 in "bicycle liability" and "vehicle contact protection." Markel defines bicycle liability coverage as "protection for bodily injury or property damage" for which the insured cyclist becomes liable to another person such as a pedestrian, another bicyclist, or motorist. Vehicle contact protection is coverage to benefit the bicyclist should he or she be injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. That $310 price also includes $10,000 in medical payments coverage defined by Markel as coverage providing "protection for the reasonable charges for necessary medical, surgical, x-ray, dental, ambulance, hospital and professional nursing services and funeral service expenses incurred within one year form the date of an accident causing bodily injury to an insured while using an insured bicycle." Generally, the insured may receive compensation under a medical payments provision of an insurance policy regardless of who was at fault for causing his or her injuries. The quote I received also provided some nice benefits should the insured bicycle become damaged in a crash.
What Markel is offering sounds good. However, whether it really is good will of course depend upon how it works in action. Will the company honor its promise to a bicyclist that purchases one of its bicycle insurance policies? I really do not know anything about Markel nor, to the best of my recollection, have I dealt with them on any claim or case I have worked on over the past 16 or so years. Please do not accept anything I have written here as an endorsement of Markel or any service or policy it provides. I encourage readers to investigate for themselves whether purchasing one of its bicycle insurance policies makes sense for them. I invite anyone who does purchase a policy to comment on this blog about their experience, whether good or bad.