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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 March, 2005, 14:51 GMT
Risks of cycling with no insurance

There is no legal obligation to take out cycle insurance, and many cyclists do not have any, but they face the same financial risks as drivers, so the consequences of having an accident could be devastating.

Penny on her bike
Penny had never thought about insurance for her bike
Penny Scott Francis had an accident in October 2000.

"I was cycling to work as normal and I was at a junction about halfway to work," she told BBC Radio 4's Money Box.

"Suddenly I was hit from behind, could not keep control of the bike and eventually fell off.

"The next thing I knew I was pinned to the ground and these massive wheels started going over me, which was a skip lorry."

Penny was left with devastating injuries, including a crushed shoulder, and a fractured arm and leg. She needed four operations.

She felt the accident was not her fault, and because of the pain and suffering she had gone through she was hoping to claim compensation. But she had no insurance. And that meant no money for legal expenses.

Penny deeply regrets the fact she never had a policy. Her advice to others is not to make the same mistake:

"I would recommend people get insurance.

"I spent two years of anguish, not really knowing, not really understanding. This would not have happened if I had insurance in the first place."

Finding a policy

Many home contents policies can provide some cycle cover. John Franklin, Chairman of the Cycle Campaign Network explained:

Bycycle
You should check carefully what the policy covers you for
"If it offers you sufficient cover in terms of theft to the value of your bike and where you are likely to cycle.

"If it either gives you insurance in case of an accident or you can economically extend it to do so and similarly with third party, go that route."

However, some people, such as students will not have a home contents policy.

There are only a few companies offering full stand-alone cycle insurance. They include CycleGuard and E and L.

AUA insurance also provides some cover. The firm's Stephen Parker told the programme:

"Our insurance has been designed to provide a broad range of standard cover for owners of pedal cycles.

The cost of this insurance depends on the value of the cycle, and where you live
Stephen Parker, AUA
"There are four parts to the policy: Firstly, accidental loss or damage to the cycle itself; Secondly, personal liability; thirdly personal accident, and finally legal expenses.

"The cost of this insurance depends on the value of the cycle, and where you live.

"By way of example, if you have a cycle valued at 500, it would cost you between 38 and 68 [per year]."

However, AUA does not provide insurance if you live in Central London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Liverpool, Manchester or Oxford.

Club benefits

Another route to finding insurance is through one of the main cycling organisations like the Cycling Touring Club (CTC).

Penny on her bike
The Cycling Touring Club helped Penny in her fight for compensation
In the end it was the CTC who helped Penny on a no-win no-fee basis.

It offered her free legal advice and she won 35,000 in compensation. Had she lost her legal case, the CTC would have covered her expenses.

Yannick Read of the CTC explained that with full adult membership at 32, cyclists get a range of benefits:

"One of them is free third party liability insurance and that means if you injure somebody with your bike - or you cause damage with your bike - you are covered by a 5milion third party liability policy.

"In addition, you get access to legal advice. If you are unlucky enough to be injured on your bike or if your bike is damaged, you get advice from our specialist team of solicitors."

Other organisations which offer some insurance to members include British Cycling, the London Cycling Campaign, and the Environmental Transport Association.

But cover and conditions should always be carefully checked when arranging any insurance policy.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 19 March, 2005 at 1200 GMT.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 20 March, at 2102 GMT

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