Summer is a beautiful time to ride a bike, that is of course if you have one. If your bike was stolen, you’re not alone. In Toronto alone, there are over 3,700 bikes stolen annually, so it is not uncommon to fall victim to this type of crime.
The question is, what do you do if your bike is stolen? Furthermore, what could you have done to protect yourself from this financial burden?
Does bicycle insurance in Canada exist?
Yes, there are two kinds of bicycle insurance in Canada. Home Insurance and stand-alone bicycle insurance. Let’s dig into how they differ, and which one might be right for you based on your bicycle, budget, and any existing coverage you might have.
Your bike is covered by your home insurance, but it’s essential to know the limitations.
For example, with an RBC comprehensive home insurance policy, each bike you own is covered for $1000. If you ride a personal commuter bike, the worst case scenario you pay a $500 deductible and get a brand new $1000 bike. This also applies to condo insurance and tenant’s insurance.
However, If you ride a top of the line Cervelo, valued at more than $10,000, you’re going to want to add a scheduled personal articles endorsement like you would for jewellery or rare art.
You can increase the contents insurance coverage for specific valuable personal articles by adding a coverage endorsement, which will end up costing you a little extra on your monthly premium.
The increased contents insurance coverage will include theft, unforeseen accidental damage, and unintentional risks of direct physical loss or damage, except for what is described in your policy.
It's important to know that how you use your bike may impact wether or not you are eligible for coverage, like if you are racing or going on a bike tour with a group. It’s critical to speak with your insurer to understand what exclusions may apply. Remember, if you’re not happy with your current insurer’s coverage, don't be afraid to compare new home insurance quotes from other providers. You may just find the coverage you need at a cheaper price.
Pro tip: If you want extra coverage for special events covering you in case of injury to you or a fellow rider, you should think about looking at third-party insurers.
Third Party Bicycle Insurance
A third party insurer can cover you for third party liability and personal accidents across North America.
Let’s say you entered a race in the US, and you hit another cyclist injuring them or damaging their bicycle. With third party insurance, you could be covered for legal defence costs if they sue you. If they win in court, your insurance may cover their bicycle, any medical expenses, loss of income, and bike replacement depending on the insurer.
While riding, If you injure yourself, and depending on the chosen policy, you could be covered for dismemberment, any related medical expenses, and even death.
Your bicycle itself can be covered against all perils, including fire and theft.
Third party bicycle insurance companies
How to buy bicycle insurance
To buy bicycle insurance, you’ll need to itemize the bicycles, either with photos and receipts and submit them to your insurer of choice. If you’re working with your home insurance policy, simply call your provider and go over the details. If you opt for a third party insurer, you can usually get an online quote, or they may direct you to one of their brokers on their website.
How much is bicycle insurance in Canada?
It depends on the insurer and the chosen policy, for third-party insurers, it’s about 3% to 4% of the bicycle value for the year for basic coverage, and it can jump to 7% to 8% if you’re in competitive racing.
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Protecting your bicycle from theft
Ideally, you don’t have to worry about making a claim on your bicycle. Insurance is the product you buy, hoping never to use. With that in mind, here are a few security tips.
- If you can, bring your bike indoors. If not, lock it in a well-lit public area.
- Always remember to lock your bike. Even at home, in a garage or in a backyard shed, keep it locked to deter potential thieves.
- Ensure your bike is locked to something substantial and preferably metal, secured to the ground. A tree, or just general wood, can be cut.
- Do your best to avoid older bike racks that only hold the bottom of your wheel in place. It’s best to secure the body of your bike as well as the back tire.
- Try to fill the space inside of your lock as much as possible. This makes it hard for thieves to insert tools to pry open the lock.
- If you lock up the back tire and frame of the bike, try to use a cable lock to secure the front tire as well.
- Don’t make it convenient to steal your bike. If possible, use two different types of locks at the same time (e.g. a cable lock and a U-lock). It stands two reasons: Most thieves want to make a quick getaway. They may not have the time or the tools to break two kinds of locks in a short time.
- Secure or remove, if possible, any “quick release” parts on your bicycle. They’re nice to have on your bike but can make it easier for thieves.
- Register your bike with the authorities. Despite the 1% return rate in Toronto, it’s still worth it – it’s quick and easy to do.
Crossing the finish line
Despite the bad news, there is a glimmer of hope. Vancouver has seen a decline in bike thefts with their 529 garage program leading to 1,000 fewer bicycles stolen since its inception. You can buy a registration kit from them (available on Amazon and local bike shops). It includes a lock, a cable, and a 529 sticker to adhere to your bicycle. The sticker, or 529 shield, is tamper resistant and deters would-be thieves. It’s a signal to a large group of cyclists, bike shops, bike clubs, and law enforcement agencies that your bike is registered and the community is on the lookout for it.