July 1, 2013 – If you’re a two-wheel traveler, don’t give bike thieves an easy ride. Lock it up and be sure you’re properly insured.
Cities and suburbs are hot spots for theft, but universities and college towns rank high on the list too. Experts estimate that it takes only 7 seconds to steal a locked bicycle. More than 217,200 bicycles were reported stolen in the U.S. in 2011, the latest available figures from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A good bicycle can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a basic model to several thousand dollars for a racing bike. It’s an investment you’ll want to make sure is insured appropriately.
Insurance Coverage for Your Bike
Bicycles are covered under the personal property section of standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. This coverage will provide reimbursement, minus the deductible, if a bike is stolen, or damaged in a fire or other peril for which coverage is provided under the policy.
Homeowners and renters insurance policies also provide liability protection. If you injure someone in a bicycle accident and he or she sues you, you will be covered up to the limits of your policy. Most people have $100,000 to $300,000 worth of liability protection as part of their standard policy, but higher amounts of coverage are available. Your homeowners or renters insurance policy also includes no-fault medical coverage in the event you injure someone.
Keeping Your Bike Secure
Of course, the best protection of all is to keep your bike safe. To help avoid theft, safety experts recommend the following tips:
- Always lock up your bike, even if it is in your garage, an apartment stairwell or a college dormitory. If you’re outside, lock it up in a visible, well-lit area.
- Lock your bicycle to a fixed, immovable object like a parking meter or permanent bike rack. Be careful not to lock it to items that can be cut easily, broken or removed.
- Consider using a U-lock. For proper locking technique, position the bike frame and wheels so that they take up as much of the open space within the U-portion of the lock as possible. The tighter the lock-up, the harder it is for a thief to use tools to attack the lock. Always position a U-lock so that the keyway is facing down toward the ground. Do not position the lock close to the ground as this makes it easier for a thief to break it.
- Don’t lock up your bicycle in the same location all the time. A thief may notice the pattern and target you.
- Consider registering your bike with the National Bike Registry. Registering the bike may also increase the likelihood of you getting a bike back if it’s stolen.
Filing a Bike Claim
Before you have to file a claim, the Insurance Information Institute suggests that you:
- Save your receipts – When you buy your bicycle you’ll probably purchase expensive equipment to go with it. Be sure to save all your receipts. The cost of a helmet, patch kits, pumps, extra inner tubes and other essentials can add up quickly. If your bike is damaged or stolen, having receipts can help speed the claims process.
- Add your bicycle to your home inventory – Everyone should have an up-to-date home inventory. This can help you purchase the proper amount of insurance and will make the claims filing process easier if there is a loss. Erie Insurance offers a household inventory form to make the tracking of personal possessions easier.
- Take a photo of your bicycle and document any serial numbers – If your bike is stolen, proof of ownership will be important.
To help ensure your bicycle is insured properly, contact an ERIE Agent. Your Agent can review the coverage and discuss bicycle theft risks and how they can be avoided.