Have You Checked Your Travel Insurance Actually Covers Cycling?


29.04.16 at 10:00 am

Finding travel insurance that includes proper cover for cycling can be a bit of a challenge. Most of us have an annual policy 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 all offer 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 Étape 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 assume they are covered by their travel insurance, in a worrying number of cases, they aren’t.

We asked a hundred cyclists and triathletes who were racing abroad at least once a year how confident they were that 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.

We were glad to find that only 4% of the cyclists and triathletes asked rode abroad without any cover at all, but it is the uncertainty over the cover provided 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 sitting in a call centre queue to get our answers.

If you want to jump ahead, we’ve put together a helpful list of the often confusing things you should check with your insurance company before travelling.

It seems that this is a particular problem when it comes to cycling abroad. For skiing trips, we always check our travel insurance covers winter sports specifically. This has become second nature because 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 plastic 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. We aren’t going to pick up a last-minute travel insurance deal unless we know for certain it includes winter sports, and so travel insurance companies make that part of their marketing.

Despite the steady rise in cycling and triathlon popularity, we have not 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 others 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.

Our advice is don’t assume that your travel insurance is covers 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 simpler and easier to understand.

In the meantime, it is important to double check. Just because ‘cycling’ is on a list of insured activities, that does not necessarily mean that your cycling activity is covered. 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 check you are covered. 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 offloading the burden of clarification onto their customers. Before you set off for your trip, there are aspects of your travel insurance that need to be checked, 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 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. 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.