Saturday, 26 November 2011

Insurance for cyclists

The BBC has a story encouraging cyclists to purchase insurance, apparently based on a press release from the Association of British Insurers (but the press release is not yet on the ABI's website).  The ABI's spokesman says:
Some 230 cyclists a month are killed or seriously injured on the roads so there is a good chance you are going to be off work for weeks, if not months, so some sort of insurance to cover you for loss of income makes sense
The statistic is accurate - according to the Department of Transport  111 cyclists were killed in Great Britain in 2010 and 2,660 seriously injured in accidents reported to the police, which combined comes to just over 230 a month.  And it's not surprising that British Insurers are in favour of Britons buying insurance.

But why focus on cyclists in particular?  The DoT statistics for pedestrians are 405 deaths and 5,200 serious injuries - twice as many serious injuries and nearly four times as many deaths (I wonder why the ratio of deaths to serious injuries should be so different).  A plausible estimate is that 27% of the adult population are cyclists, and I'm confident that less than 100% of the adult population are pedestrians, so the risks seem not to be very different.

The ABI spokesman goes on to say that third-party liability insurance is essential.  Well, whether on a bicycle or not all of us are at risk of somehow causing someone an injury.  Few of us sue one another on account of it - I suspect that legal actions such as this one would be much rarer if personal liability insurance did not exist, partly because most of us don't have enough money to make bringing the action worth the lawyers' while - Jack of Kent has some interesting thoughts on the subject.  If you're not rich enough to be worth suing for your own money, you might think it your civic duty to carry liability insurance, but that should not be for cycling only.

It seems to me that there's something unnecessarily discouraging about attitudes to cycling in Britain.  I'm reminded of the debate about wearing cycling helmets.  Helmets provide some protection, and I often wear one when cycling, but they would protect pedestrians and car passengers too: no one tuts at people walking down the street without a helmet on their head.


  1. far be it for me to take issue with you, o logic bomb, but surely cyclists are more vulnerable because riding a bicycle is an inherently less stable mode of transport than travelling by two feet, and a cyclist usually travels at higher speeds than a pedestrian, so the consequences of falling off or being knocked off a bike are usually more serious than falling over while out for a walk or run. Same principle applies to motorcyclists.

  2. Of course you are right that falling off a bicycle is more dangerous than falling over on foot. But if you're hit by a fast-moving, heavy vehicle, your own speed makes little difference.