Avid cyclist David Bott finds dealing with insurers an uphill battle.
Research by the road safety charity Brake shows cyclists and motorcyclists account for almost four in 10 of all deaths and serious injuries on British roads – a total of 101 cyclist deaths and 349 motorcyclist deaths in 2017. In spite of these alarming figures, the number of cyclists in this country is increasing year on year.
But for those cyclists involved in an accident, when trying to claim with their own insurance providers, or against the car driver’s insurers, many have to go through further pain. The main problem is the insurer’s lack of awareness around cycling. For example, many treat cycling collisions in the exact same way they would car collisions, causing real frustration for the cyclist. It’s no surprise that cyclists are increasingly turning to legal firms with an expertise in cycling.
The whole experience left me exasperated. I had to teach the insurer about the details of the claim myself, which was frustrating.
I’m a keen cyclist and I discovered this first hand. I was knocked off my bike in early September 2018 and when I had recovered from the accident, I contacted the car driver’s insurer to place a claim but had to go through a long, drawn-out process. In fact, I found myself having to educate the insurer about the specifics of a cycle claim.
A narrow escape
Having cycled for years, I’m confident on the bike. On the night of the accident, it was business as usual. I was just cycling home during rush hour after work and felt pretty safe in my reflective clothing – bright shoe covers, a reflective gilet and a flouro helmet.
According to my Strava app, I decelerated to 18 mph from a speed of 23 mph before being hit by a Nissan Micra that suddenly pulled out in front of me, causing me to fly off my bike, over the handlebars and onto the tarmac.
The accident could easily have been catastrophic. I had a split second to decide whether to fall towards my left or right. If I landed on the right, I would be in the lane of oncoming cars. Fortunately, I made a judgement call to fall to the left. I was quite badly injured but just remember being really worried about my bike.
Insurers are using the same process for cycle claims as they are for car claims applying no expertise and not meeting the cyclist’s needs.
When I reported the accident to the insurers, it was clear that they didn’t understand about the specifics of a cycle claim. Third party insurers will always look to replace ‘like for like’ but this doesn’t quite work if you can’t get a ‘like’, which was just what happened in my case (or at least it was until I persuaded them differently).
Lack of knowledge on the insurer’s part
Insurers are using the same process for cycle claims as they are for car claims applying no expertise and not meeting the cyclist’s needs. For example, the engineering report for my claim was amended from a car report. To make matters worse insurers try to put a scrap value on a bike as they would on cars, but scrap value on cars is based on the idea that metal is worth something.
Cyclists really treasure their bikes but insurers fail to realise this. In their minds it’s just a bike.
I was offered a similar bike but it wasn’t the same as my original Team Edition Scott Addict bike, which I bought new in July 2016. As the accident was in 2018, there were no 2016 Scott Addict Team Editions available. To complicate matters the 2018 Team Edition is disc brake only, whereas my bike was calliper brake, so there was no ‘like for like’.
It’s all about the bike
Cyclists really treasure their bikes but insurers fail to realise this. In their minds it’s just a bike. They know what you paid for it and assume you can get another one. But surely, if insurers can’t give you ‘like for like’ then they should give you the current version of that bike or give you what you paid for it first time round.
The whole experience left me exasperated. I had to teach the insurer about the details of the claim myself, which was frustrating. There seems to be a massive disconnect between what insurers think has a value, because they say: ‘I can get you something that’s basically the same.’ However, ‘basically the same’ is not the same.
I’ve found that many cyclists who settle their claims directly with insurers are not getting what they are entitled to. Perhaps this is why there is a trend in people seeking out cycle experts when it comes to understanding their case.
There are more of us cycling on the roads than ever before meaning hundreds of cyclists each week compete with motor vehicles for the same space, so I don’t predict the problem will go away. According to Government road safety statistics, you are 15 times more likely to be killed on Britain’s roads if you ride a bike than if you drive a car, a very stark and sobering reality.
A massive disconnect
With the volume of cyclists and accidents increasing, insurers will be forced to step up. They need to realise each cycle claim is unique, it’s different to a car claim and they will need specialist departments that only deal with cycle claims, and to be educated more in this niche area.
Insurers need to either invest in cycling experts or become more educated in the area so they know first-hand the impact of a cycle accident and life-threatening injuries that can occur.
Accidents often result in a loss of bikes and equipment, loss of earnings due to time off work, the loss of the ability to continue with life as normal, or worse. For this reason making a cycle claim should be a straightforward process. Injured victims have the right to this at the very least.
Bott and Co has been obtaining justice for victims of cycling accidents for more than twelve years. Claimants are treated with respect and empathy by the firm’s team of experts, many of whom are part of Bott and Co’s dedicated cycling team.
If you would like bespoke legal advice on your next steps after a cycling accident, please visit our cycling accident claims page