The jargon-free guide to bicycle insurance

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Whether you're a budding Bradley Wiggins, crave the thrill of a muddy mountain bike trail or just use a bicycle to get to the shops, it makes sense to protect yourself against loss and damage

Do I need bicycle insurance?

If you drive a car or ride a motorbike, insurance isn't optional. There's no such legal requirement when it comes to bicycle insurance. Of course, if you're riding around on a £1,200 titanium-framed beauty with a set of high-spec disc brakes then insurance is likely to be high up your list of priorities.

For riders with a more modest set of wheels, it makes sense too. You might well rely on your bicycle to get to work – more than 740,000 of us do according to the most recent government census. How would you cope if it needed to be replaced immediately? The inconvenience is one thing, but could you afford to splash out hundreds of pounds on a new bike at the drop of a hat?

Unfortunately, bicycles are a particular favourite of professional thieves. They're light, valuable, easy to sell, and there are plenty of them around. In short, they're generally seen as easy pickings. In the year to June 2016 there were 291,000 bike thefts reported to police, according to the latest Crime Survey for England and Wales. That figure is actually down on the previous period, but it doesn't show the number of people who had a bike stolen yet didn't bother reporting the theft.

Does home insurance cover bicycles and how much contents insurance do I need?

Well, that depends, let's break it down…

With an Admiral Contents Insurance policy, bicycles worth up to £350 are protected automatically when they're inside the home. Best of all, bikes belonging to every family member living at the same address are also covered.

If you ride a bike to work or if it's your main mode of transport, you'll likely want to be covered outside of the home too. That's easy to do when you're taking out a standard contents policy – just say you need cover away from home when you're shopping around. It's worth noting that some home contents policies, including Admiral Platinum, automatically cover any bikes worth less than £350 when they're out of the house.

My bike is worth more than that…

It's certainly possible to get a good quality, everyday bike for under £350, but you're likely to be looking north of that price tag for a solid, reliable commuter. The experts over at Cycling Weekly recently pulled together a list of six of their top hybrid bikes for 2016 – models designed to offer a good compromise between a road and a mountain bike. The cheapest to make the list was the Carrera Crossfire 2, priced at £429.99.

If you have bikes worth more than the limit specified by your insurer, you'll need to make sure that each one is individually listed on the policy. Also make sure that bikes kept in locked outbuildings are covered if you tend to store your bike in a shed or a garage rather than in the main house. Are you interested in taking out cover away from home and plan to go further afield than the local post office, say across the Channel to France? Be sure to ask whether or not overseas cover is included.

Insuring modified bikes

If cycling or mountain biking is one of your favourite pastimes then at some point you might well modify your bike to improve its performance. It's important to remember that changes to your bicycle could affect your insurance cover. For example, if fitting a new rear shock absorber substantially raises the value of the bike it may no longer be covered under your current policy. Play it safe and speak to your insurer just in case.

How can I help to stop my bike from being stolen?

  • Bike locks – There's no escaping the fact that it's possible to cut through any bike lock given the right tools and enough time. That said, investing in a quality security device like the highly rated Kryptonite New York M18 bike lock and anchoring your bicycle to an immovable object will help to deter criminals. It'll also keep your insurance valid. Thieves like easy pickings that offer low risk – make them think twice about messing with your bike.

Tougher more imaginative bike locks are being invented all the time. Just take a look at the Skunklock, currently under development in California. Billed as "the only bike lock that fights back", this imaginative anti-theft device has been designed to blast a foul smell into the face of a would-be thief once the lock has been partially damaged. 

  • BikeRegister – The national BikeRegister database holds details of more than half a million bikes and is used by police to help reunite victims of theft with recovered bicycles. It's quick and simple to add your details then mark your bike using a special security kit. Warning labels are also available to help deter thieves. 
  • Smart parking – Be sensible when it comes to choosing a place to leave your bike. Well-lit, busy areas are the way forward. Thieves would rather not be overlooked, so try and pick somewhere with CCTV cameras.

Selecting the right bicycle insurance cover

Check your home insurance documents to find out exactly what your current policy covers. If you're an Admiral customer and require expert advice or need to update your details and get a new bike covered, call our customer service team on 0333 220 2003.

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