In a perfect world, nothing ever goes wrong. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world, and in the real world, sometimes things do go wrong. This is where insurance comes into play.
You? Or your bike?
It’s really important to understand that you get two types of insurance:
1) Insurance that covers your bike and your kit, whilst on tour, and
2) Insurance that covers you.
These two are not the same!
It’s entirely possible to get an overlap of at least some extent. For example, your personal travel insurance might cover loss or theft of luggage or gadgets, while your bicycle travel insurance might cover that, too.
Despite some of these overlaps, it remains best to treat it as completely separate types of insurance. Depending on who you are, where you’ll be cycle touring, and your appetite for risk, you might choose to forego one, or both.
In my case, to go cycle touring Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, I have to have both. As a South African citizen (with permanent residency in the UK) though I don’t need a visa to visit Ireland, I do need proof of personal insurance. That insurance must cover medical costs and repatriation, if needed.
This seems like such a simple thing to do, but the reality proved much harder.
Personal Travel Insurance
Firstly this: READ. THE. FINE. PRINT!
I cannot stress that enough! Insurers are a very bizarre lot, and some personal travel insurance policies will happily cover you often even for entering cycling events, but will explicitly exclude cycle touring! It’s absolutely beyond stupid how they calculated that particular risk assessment, and suggests to me the risk assessors don’t have a clue what cycle touring is like!
When I started looking at personal travel insurance, InsureAndGo was one of the first companies I looked at. After all, they even market their policies by saying “Cycle touring (as well as over 50 other activities) is covered as standard on all our travel insurance policies, so you can get up to more on your holiday.”
What more do you need, right?
Well, when reading the fine print, the situation changes. I was going through the motions of signing up for travel insurance with InsureAndGo, the followed the link to the policy wording. What I found was rather concerning: their policy wording explicitly states that you will NOT be covered for personal accident and personal liability when cycle touring!
I asked InsureAndGo for an explanation (on Twitter) but never heard back from them.
Basically, I was lured in with a promise that I’d be buying travel insurance to cover cycle touring, yet the policy document explicitly excludes that. To me, that’s dodgy, and a massive red flag (in addition to leaving me without the actual cover I was looking to buy!)
Yellow Jersey come across as a really good bunch, and came highly recommended. As an added bonus, you get get both personal travel insurance, as well as bicycle insurance on the same policy – win-win, right?
The fly in the ointment is this: in March 2022 I had a crash that ended with me breaking my collarbone. Insurers (quite reasonably and fairly) ask you to disclose pre-existing medical conditions. That includes ANY condition for which you needed hospital treatment, even if only as an out-patient, like I was with my collarbone.
The fly in the chamois cream with Yellow Jersey was that they wanted to charge me around an extra £30 just for an additional online medical assessment, purely because I broke my collarbone well over a year ago.
I wasn’t happy paying the extra, while many other insurers simply asked a few additional questions. While I know may people remain very happy with Yellow Jersey, this was enough for me to not do business with them.
Big Cat Travel Insurance
This was the next company I tried to get a quote from. Like Yellow Jersey, they wanted to charge me extra for a “medical assessment”. That simply meant that they ruled themselves out from getting a penny from me.
My Solution (Your Mileage May Vary)
In the end, I went to a price-comparison site, specifically Compare The Market. That led me to Puffin Insurance, who quoted me for a decent personal travel insurance policy for less than what either Yellow Jersey or Big Cat wanted just for the additional medical assessment!
And yes, I declared my broken collarbone as a pre-existing condition! After all, lying to an insurer is a supremely dumb idea, as effectively you would be handing them a great excuse to invalidate your claim, in the unlikely event that you may need to make one.
Signing up was simple and easy, and the only criticism I have of Puffin’s policy is that they demand riders wear a cycle helmet. To me, that’s not a big deal though, as I usually do ride with a helmet.
Just to be clear, I have no affiliation with any companies I either named, or linked to, and received (or will receive) no payment, nor any discount. This is simply a reflection of my own personal experiences.
Obviously, not having made an insurance claim (and I sincerely hope I never need to!) I have no way of knowing how helpful, or unhelpful, any of these companies are.
2 thoughts on “Cycle Touring Insurance”
Thank you for this useful, well-written article. I am planning a bikepacking trip next year and honestly hadn’t thought about insurance!
Insurance is a gamble we hope we lose: we take it out, hoping not to need it.