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Does Auto Insurance Cover Bicycle Accidents?

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

If you’re hitting the open road on your bicycle, you’ve probably gone to great lengths to increase your safety. But accidents happen. The CDC reports nearly 130,000 cyclists are injured every year in the United States during a road accident, and close to 1,000 people die from bicycle crash injuries.

A crash is not only scary but can hit your wallet, too.

Like other wrecks on the road, you should prioritize getting to a safe location and notifying authorities after a bike collision. Then, both parties should share insurance information. But whose insurance applies? Will car insurance cover a bicycle accident? Should you file a claim after a bike accident?

Whether you’re wondering about covering your medical costs from a bike crash or you were the driver in a collision involving a bicycle, we’ve got answers. 

In some ways, auto insurance works the same after a crash whether it involves a bicycle or a motorized vehicle. But a key difference is that bicycles are not insured under an auto policy. So in cases where a cyclist caused the collision, other insurance (such as private health or personal liability) would apply.

We’re going to look at a few scenarios where an auto insurance claim may or may not cover a bicycle accident, starting with the most common.

Bicycle and blue helmet on the ground after a car collision.

Does Car Insurance Cover Hitting a Bicyclist?

Unfortunately, even though cycling is generally a safe sport or exercise option, the rate of crashes and injuries nationally has gone up in recent years. The most likely situation where a cyclist or pedestrian is injured on the road involves being hit by a car. 

Being in an accident while cycling can be a harrowing experience, but understanding how insurance comes into play can provide some peace of mind. 

If the vehicle is at fault in a wreck involving a bike, the driver’s car liability insurance generally will cover expenses. Just like a wreck involving two cars, the liability insurance coverage of the at-fault driver pays for the other person’s medical expenses and property damage. This might include:

  • Insurance payment for a new bicycle
  • Reimbursement of medical bills
  • Compensation for lost wages

Remember, liability insurance (often the minimum required) kicks in when you – the driver – have injured someone else or damaged their property. If you hit a bicyclist with your car and are found to be the one at fault, you would need to have collision coverage on your auto insurance to have help paying for your own vehicle repairs.

Causing a wreck and injuring a cyclist or fellow driver will probably increase the cost of your next insurance premium. Even if you’re not at fault in a wreck, a claim or collision can affect your insurance rate

business use of car

How Does Insurance Work With Bikes?

Here’s an at-a-glance overview of bicycle accident insurance coverage:

What Happened?Who Caused It?Who Pays?
A car hits a bicyclistThe driver of the carThe driver’s auto insurance
A bicyclist hits a pedestrianThe cyclist The cyclist’s personal liability insurance under homeowner’s or renter’s policy
A bicycle crashes into a carThe cyclist The cyclist’s personal liability insurance under homeowner’s or renter’s policy
A hit-and-run crashUnknownThe cyclist or driver’s uninsured/underinsured auto insurance

Before we pedal further, let’s address another common question: Is there such a thing as bicycle insurance? 

Just about anything can be insured but chances are you don’t need to buy separate bicycle insurance. Some companies do sell bike-specific policies but more often the protection you’re seeking is provided by homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Of course, if you are a professional athlete or have another extenuating circumstance, consult directly with your insurance representative about bicycle insurance. 

Aside from wrecks, one of the most common concerns among cyclists is bicycle theft. If stolen from the rack on your car, auto insurance generally won’t cover the bike. If taken from your garage, your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may offer coverage. The best way to make sure your policy would cover your bike is to ask for a specific inclusion with your property insurance (homeowner’s or renter’s).

What Happens if I Get Hit on My Bike?

As covered above, if a car strikes you while you’re cycling and you are following all traffic laws, the vehicle driver’s liability insurance will cover your expenses. The most significant costs you’d likely face are hospital bills, including the cost of ambulance transport if you have life-threatening injuries.

If you – the cyclist – are at fault in the wreck, any damages to the driver or their car might be eligible for coverage if you have personal liability insurance under a homeowner’s or renter’s policy. In this case, the driver of the car might seek compensation from your insurance. 

If you cause a collision and are injured as a cyclist, your medical expenses should be covered under private or group health insurance – not an auto policy.

Finally, there’s the rare circumstance of sustaining bad injuries in a bike vs. bike collision. While generally less injurious than a high-speed car crash, if you and another cyclist collide, insurance may be needed to cover costs. In a recent case, for example, a Georgia jury awarded $1.6 million – paid by a cyclist’s homeowner’s insurance – to another cyclist who was injured in a collision.

Man sits in hospital bed while doctor shows him something on a tablet.

Does Insurance Cover a Hit-and-Run Bicycle Accident?

This is one scenario where a bicyclist’s own auto insurance can be helpful. Although the bike is not an insured vehicle, the rider may have protection under uninsured/underinsured coverage. 

Standard on many auto insurance policies, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is designed to provide financial assistance to the policyholder. This coverage kicks in when the other driver can’t be identified (such as a hit-and-run), or when the at-fault driver’s insurance is inadequate. 

Aside from general health insurance coverage, an injured bicyclist (or driver) may have help paying medical bills if their auto insurance policy includes medical payments coverage. Your policy may call this personal injury protection (PIP). Often this endorsement can cover medical expenses regardless of fault in the wreck. 

Insurance Claim After Bicycle Accident

If you’re hit by a car while cycling, you don’t need to contact your auto insurer – unless it was a hit-and-run. Immediately after a collision, both parties should notify police, seek medical help as needed, and exchange contact information as well as insurance information. The at-fault driver’s auto insurance will open a claim for the cyclist’s injuries or damage. 

If you – the cyclist – caused the wreck, you should contact your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance agent to ask about coverage. 

Always take photos of the wreck, vehicle, bicycle, and surrounding area. On the notes app on your phone or with a pen and paper, jot down the date, time, weather conditions, speed, and other information relevant to the wreck. Taking notes right away is best as the situation will be fresh and you’re likely to forget details later. This information is extremely helpful for your insurance representative. 

In some cases, there’s a dispute over who was at fault or you’ve been injured but not compensated. Consider contacting an attorney if you’re concerned about your rights after a bicycle wreck. 

At Independent Insurance Associates, we’re experts in outfitting you, your car, your home, and your business with solid insurance coverage – and we’re ready to talk about your bike, too! We can evaluate your current coverage, identify gaps, and help you find great insurance at a reasonable price. Contact us today for more information and to start the process of a free quote!