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Have You Checked Your Travel Insurance Actually Covers Cycling?

Will Leedham | 2 years ago

cycling travel insurance matrix image

Finding travel insurance that includes proper cover for cycling can be a chore. Most of us have an annual policy we’ve got through our bank, or we pick up the first result on Google before a trip. It might not completely cover a missed flight, the excess might be a little more than we expected, but ultimately they are all much the same. It evens out in the end, or it does on a beach holiday at least.

Every year, thousands of riders head for the continent for events like Etape du Tour or Mallorca 312. Triathletes are competing in races from super sprints to Iron Man, and touring cyclists are covering spectacular distances right across the globe. While many of these cyclists consider themselves covered by their travel insurance, in a worrying number of cases, they aren’t.

We asked a hundred cyclists and triathletes who were travelling abroad at least once a year to race how confident they were their travel insurance covered them. 27% were very confident, 22% were fairly confident, but 51% were unsure. 38% weren’t even sure their travel insurance was valid in the country they were riding in, let alone if it extended to racing.

Only 4% of the cyclists and triathletes we asked rode abroad without any cover at all, so we clearly see the need for travel insurance, but it is the uncertainty over what we are actually covered for that is a worry. To make things worse, of the riders who were completely confident they were covered while racing abroad, we found several who weren’t after looking at the policy wording of their chosen provider.

So where does this problem come from? It’s not fair to blame the customer. An insurance company should be making it perfectly clear what it is they are and are not covering. Answers to our questions should be straight forward and easy to find, and we should be able to make informed choices without the headache of having to sit in a call centre queue to ask.

If you want to jump ahead, we’ve put a helpful list of things you should check with your insurance company before travelling for cycling which often cause confusion.

It seems that this is a particular problem when it comes to cycling abroad. Before heading out for a skiing holiday, we check our travel insurance specifically covers winter sports. Over the last 10 to 15 years this has become second nature, with insurance companies working hard to make sure we are informed.

Skiing is dangerous. Bones get broken, ligaments get torn, and the severe lack of public hospitals in ski resorts means our EHIC cards often aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. We know our insurance isn’t going to pay for skiing injuries unless it has been made clear to us in advance that it will. We aren’t going to pick up a last-minute travel insurance unless we know for certain it includes winter sports, and so travel insurance companies make that part of their marketing. But despite the steady rise in cycling and triathlon, we haven’t seen similar for cyclists.

While ‘winter sports’ cover does exactly as it says on the tin, cycling travel insurance seems to be far more complicated.

Every travel insurer has different ways of classifying cycling. Many will list ‘cycling’ as an automatically covered sport, but once you dive into the details of the policies it is rarely so simple. There will be maximum distances you can cover during a trip, or cycling will be covered so long as it’s not the primary activity of the trip. Some insurers won’t distinguish between a sportive and touring while other will see the timing on a mass ride reason to categorise it as a race. There are examples of travel insurers listing triathlon as a sport they cover, only to later limit the race distance to a sprint. Others will cover triathlon abroad, but only if you purchase an additional ‘extreme sports’ cover.

The advice is not to assume that your travel insurance is automatically covering you. Cycling in all its forms is continuing to grow rapidly in the UK, and the insurance companies are taking notice. Hopefully we will begin to see more companies giving some thought to cyclist and triathletes, with cycling travel insurance coming in line with ski cover, becoming simplified and easier to understand.

In the mean time, it is important to double check. Because ‘cycling’ is on a list of insured activities, does not necessarily mean the type of cycling you will be doing is. There may be an additional level of cover needed, or you might need to move your insurance somewhere else entirely. Give your insurer a call, tell them what you plan to do with your bike, and ask if you are covered for it. It could save you a fortune.

The travel insurers aren’t trying to catch you out or trick you into being uninsured. However, they are putting the burden of making sure on their customers. Before you set off for your trip, there are aspects of your travel insurance you should check, and if it isn’t obvious from their documents, you should give them a call and ask.

  • Are you covered when cycling is the primary purpose of your trip?
  • How are sportives classified, are they a ride or a race?
  • If racing, are there maximum distances or durations?
  • Does the insurer separate out types of cycling, and is your chosen style one that’s covered?
  • Do they expect you to purchase an ‘add on’ for riding, on top of the policy you already have?

We aren’t into the ‘hard sell’ at Yellow Jersey, we just want you to double check that your travel insurance is up to scratch when riding abroad. If you have double checked and have the cover you need, there is no reason to swap. But if you don’t have the appropriate cover, or if you just can’t face the hassle of finding out, we have a cycle travel insurance product designed to take out the stress.

Working with our Partners at the British Triathlon Federation and a good sample of our bicycle insurance customers, we have designed a cycle travel insurance to cover all forms of riding, travelling and racing. Be it a morning’s escape on a family holiday or the Ironman world championships, we have you covered.


Will Leedham

| 2 years ago

About this author:
I wasn’t given the choice as to whether or not I wanted to get into cycling. My family bike shop (Leedham’s Leicester) was founded in the 1850’s, and to avoid bringing dishonour to my ancestors, took up the two wheels out of reluctant duty. That said I do head out for the odd spin and know rather a lot about bikes.

I take care of YJ’s digital marketing among other things. Ever noticed those ads that seem to follow you round the internet and all over Facebook? Yep, I’m that guy.
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