This article was published in 2002, in Newsletter 44.
So do you have liability insurance when cycling?
Recent discussions in the media have made many aware of this problem, and most members of Cambridge Cycling Campaign will know of the problems with the Third Party insurance we used to offer via the CTC.
As a teenager in the 1960s I became aware of these issues when a friend on a bicycle knocked down an ‘old lady’, who was probably younger than I am now. She was on a Zebra crossing, broke her pelvis, and subsequently claimed damages amounting to several thousand pounds in today’s money. My friend’s father had no suitable insurance cover and had to pay the amount from his wages as a petrol pump attendant over several years.
I remember my father reading the small print of the ‘Liability’ section of his household insurance at that time, and have since always been conscious of individuals’ liability, be it from branches falling off a tree in a garden, or children riding bicycles in a careless manner.
I do not believe that such third-party insurance should be compulsory, as incidents are rare, and claims for damage usually small. But I do think that if individuals have some form of household insurance it is worth ensuring that it does provide liability insurance for such accidents, including those involving a pedal cycle ridden by themselves or a member of their family.
A quick trawl on the web produced six house contents insurance policies (Royal and Sun Alliance, Eagle Star, Liverpool Victoria, Norwich Union, Tesco and Lloyds TSB), which apparently cover liability resulting from cycle accidents. This is not a recommendation of any policy, but for all of these, the only vehicles excluded in their ‘Liability’ sections are mechanically or motor propelled ones. The two ‘help lines’ for policies that exclude mechanically propelled vehicles that I contacted said that liability for those involved in cycle accidents was included.
I suggest that you check your insurance policies, and then when someone says ‘cyclists don’t have insurance’ you can say ‘I do and so do most people.’