California is the third most bicycle friendly state in the nation, according to the League of American Bicyclists. The League’s annual ranking names California as the best state for having bike-friendly policies and programs. It lists California as fourth for the number of commuters who bike to work.
Thousands of cyclists ride on Los Angeles County roads each day. These cyclists enjoy the same protections, rights, and responsibilities as motor vehicles, with a few exceptions.
Despite the many advantages of bike riding, the sport comes with special risks. For example, in a crash, a cyclist is at greater risk of serious injury than a motor vehicle passenger. Moreover, thieves steal bikes more often than they steal cars. California bike owners report more than 25,000 stolen bikes each year.
What can cyclists do to protect themselves and their equipment in the event of an accident or theft?
Most homeowners or renters insurance policies cover bicycles and bike equipment. These policies may also cover costs related to accidents involving bikes. Whether the policy applies largely depends on the type, location, and cause of the accident.
Motor vehicle insurance can also provide some level of coverage. The most common situation triggering your own auto insurance policy involves a hit-and-run driver hurting you while you are riding. However, another common scenario involves an uninsured or underinsured motorist hitting you while you are biking.
If your policy includes uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), your insurance policy will cover your injuries and property damage in these situations. If you have Medical Payments coverage as part of your auto insurance, it may pay your medical expenses in some bike accidents.
Two determining factors in whether your insurance will pay are (1) who caused the accident, and (2) who got hurt. For example, if you are cycling and hit another cyclist, your homeowners or renters insurance will probably cover the costs of the accident for the other cyclist. Your insurance may not cover your damages, though. Every insurance policy is different, so the details matter, particularly when it comes to bicycles.
Do I need to purchase bicycle accident insurance?
As an attorney who has represented hundreds of bicycle accident victims, I appreciate the benefits of full insurance coverage. I encourage everyone to carry enough insurance to protect themselves, their families and their property and assets in the event of a tragic accident.
Bicycle accident insurance can help some cyclists more than others. If you fall into one of the following seven categories, you may want to explore whether a bicycle accident insurance policy would be helpful.
1. Your bicycle is your primary form of transportation
If you are one of the 1.1% of California commuters on a bicycle, and you don’t have backup transportation, you may want to look into bike insurance. While your homeowners insurance will likely cover damage to your bike, it may not pay for replacement transportation while your bike is being repaired or replaced. Also, your policy may calculate the value of your bike in such a way that you cannot replace it with a comparable bike.
Specialized bicycle accident insurance policies may cover bike repairs, rental bikes, and full replacement costs. Many also offer a roadside assistance plan.
2. You don’t have homeowners or renters insurance
Even though everyone should be fully insured, many people are not. Without homeowners or renters insurance, you are personally liable for any accidents you cause while bike riding. Since you are not driving, your auto insurance won’t cover harm you cause to cyclists, pedestrians, cars or property. If you hit someone while on your bike and they are badly hurt, you could lose all your money and any assets you own.
Despite improvements in locking technology, thieves target bikes. Without homeowners or renters insurance, replacing a stolen bike or repairing a vandalized bike are out-of-pocket expenses for you.
3. You don’t have motor vehicle insurance
Car insurance meeting California’s minimum liability coverage requirements only covers accidents when you are in a vehicle. However, without basic auto insurance, you aren’t eligible for optional UM/UIM or Medical Payments Coverage, both of which could cover you while you are cycling.
4. You don’t have UM/UIM Coverage with your car insurance
Uninsured motorist (UM) bodily injury and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage are optional insurance offerings. They pay for your injuries if an unidentified driver of a motor vehicle hits you and flees the scene. UM/UIM also pays in collisions with an uninsured driver or one whose insurance limits are less than your damages. In most cases, this coverage protects you when a motor vehicle hits you while you are riding your bike.
5. You don’t have Medical Payments Coverage with your motor vehicle insurance
This optional coverage pays the cost of your medical expenses, regardless of who is at fault in an accident. It is likely to protect you in bicycle crashes involving a vehicle, even if you cause the crash.
6. You own an expensive bicycle or bike gear
Homeowners and renters insurance may place limits on how much they cover when it comes to sports equipment. Bicycles can cost thousands of dollars. Check your insurance to see whether the full value of your bike is insured. Also verify whether it covers your biking equipment, spare parts, clothing, or gear. Your policy may require an additional rider to fully cover your bike, or it may include a depreciation schedule preventing you from replacing your bike with an equivalent model.
7. You travel or compete with your bicycle
If you race or participate in organized bike events, your existing insurance may not fully cover you. Similarly, if you transport your bike to events, your bike and equipment may or may not be covered. Check your homeowners and renters policy to be sure. Insurance companies can tailor bicycle accident insurance policies for these situations.
A Long Beach Bicycle Accident Attorney Can Help You
Regardless of your insurance coverage, if you are injured in a bicycle accident, you deserve the best representation available. I will work closely with you to build a persuasive case and assist you through the process. Because your injuries are personal to me, I will handle all aspects of your claim.
I offer a free consultation by phone in English or Spanish. You will be under no obligation, and you will never pay any money unless you recover compensation for your losses.
Call the Law Office of Michael D. Waks at 888-394-1174 today. Or use the convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Learn how an experienced Long Beach bicycle accident lawyer can help after a biking accident.
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