Cycling insurance 101

Every cyclist has an unspoken bond with their bicycle, regardless of whether they are a recreational cyclist or professional. The bike is an extension of his or her personality, particularly if it has been painstakingly put together piece-by-carefully sourced piece.

Ask any cyclist what is their first thought upon an impending a crash, and you’ll be hard pressed to find one that didn’t worry about the damage to their bikes first rather than their own bodies. Even the mantra for those who’ve gone newly clipless is to hug the bike and fall, fully accepting that the damage to your body will heal.

With the rising amount of cycling activity in Malaysia, a number of companies have begun to introduce insurance products that will safeguard cyclists and their bikes against potentially exorbitant repairs and medical costs, allowing for peace of mind while they are on their pedal powered adventures. With this in mind, the team at Cycling Plus Malaysia thought it would be a good time to review what is available in the market now.

Why cycling specific?

Personal accident insurance is already readily available, but coverage is usually limited to personal injuries and liability. Some have disclaimers that exclude sports accidents, particularly if it is considered a high risk activity. Of course, there are also sports insurance packages, but these do not cover athletes who compete in triathlons, obstacle challenge events and cycling competitions even. Coverage is usually also restricted to the policyholder and liability only, excluding equipment, unless you have a specific package tailored to your needs.

Another option is travel insurance, although it is highly unlikely that such a policy would cover your bike as well. It also bears mentioning that this will only cover medical fees in the event of a crash during travel abroad, but not when you’re cycling back home. The medical coverage will be limited, likely only emergency or outpatient treatment, no repatriation and none of the costs during the recovery or rehabilitation process afterwards. Damage to your bicycle or equipment will not be covered, and neither will a stolen bicycle.

For the uninitiated, there are several cycling insurance packages already available, offering different tiers of protection based on your chosen annual premiums. As with other insurance, the rule of coverage is simple, the more you pay, the more you can claim. The devil is in the details as they say, and the key is to figure out which package suits your needs best. And while there may be other options globally, your best bet is to go with a local company for greater ease in the event of making any claims. Here we’ve taken the three best options in Malaysia, giving you an easy cheat sheet for a quick comparison to match your level of physical fitness, sports involvement, and bike value.

Top tier: Re-claim (read our Cycling Plus feature)

At the higher end of things we have Re-claim, the comprehensive sports insurance provider which was developed specifically for athletes in general, not just cyclists. Essentially, this is the go-to insurance package if you are actively participating in competitive sports events, either at the semi-pro or recreational level. It is great for those who have a wide variety of sporting interests in general.

Pro or national athletes are understandably not eligible. The best thing about Re-claim is hands down their medical coverage, which even includes things like stem cell therapy, reconstructive surgery, rehabilitation, and best doctor services, in addition to compensation for permanent disablement. There’s even coverage for a non-sports accident.

Essentially there are three different policies under Re-claim, with different levels of coverage. The annual premiums range between RM989 for the basic plan, RM1,989 for the medium coverage, and RM2,989 for the highest level of coverage. However, you do need medical certification that you are fit to take up your sport of choice, cycling or otherwise.

There is also a clause for top up coverage, which means you need to exhaust your other insurance policies before the company will pay up, failing which there is a RM10,000 deductible fee. Re-claim is also the only policy that does not cover outpatient treatment, unlike Allianz and Tokio Marine. Overall, the medical coverage appears to be the most extensive of the three insurance options we’re reviewing in this article, even though you do need to be hospitalised.

The company that serves and fulfils the Re-claim policy is locally based Lonpac Insurance Bhd, which operates through 21 branches in Malaysia and a foreign branch in Singapore. Re-Claim insurance policies can be bought online in Malaysia 24 hours a day, making it super easy to sign up.

We would caution speaking to an agent or representative of the company after reading all the details to get a clearer idea of how it works in the event of different scenarios. The company states all of their exclusions, but like all insurance, you really do need to read the terms and conditions.

However, that’s not all Re-claim have on offer. We've got confirmation that they are now working on an upgraded package that will be more flexible to the policyholder’s needs, which will be available by the end of 2018. One good thing for cyclists even with the current policy: any bike you ride will be covered if you crash it, since you can only ride one at a time anyway.

Buy Re-claim if:

You participate in multisport events or activities at a higher level and frequently do so abroad with a wide range of bicycles.

Have a higher possibility of sustaining serious sports injuries that require hospitalisation.

Mid tier Option 1: Tokio Marine *NOTE: this package has been suspended indefinitely. Tokio Marine has yet to give us further details

Called Cyclist Partner Insurance, the Japanese company’s product is designed specifically for cyclists, and has a decent package for a segment different from Allianz. It covers almost all of your basic needs while on two wheels, no big surprise since it was initiated by Carson Wong - coach for Junior Cycling Malaysia and Team TIME’s Junior Triathlon squad. The Cyclist Partner is presented by Maison de Idea, an insurance partner of Tokio Marine Insurance Group.

Much like Re-claim, Cyclist Partner has different levels of coverage with differing amounts of annual premiums: RM330, RM614 and RM920. At first glance it feels like there is less coverage when it comes to the total amount claimable, but in truth the protection for bicycles and related equipment is good value considering the lower premiums, namely RM6,000 - RM20,000, as opposed to Re-claim’s RM3,000 - RM30,000.

Tokio Marine gives you the opportunity to insure up to two bikes, which is pretty useful for most cyclists susceptible to the N+1 Velominati rule regarding ownership of bikes. Sure it doesn’t cover all your bikes, but two out of your entire fleet is definitely better than just one. Equipment like your cycling helmet, apparel, water bottles, and tyres are also included, which is pretty revolutionary.

The Cyclist Partner is fairly comprehensive and tailored for the cyclist, in their own home country only or around the world. This policy also has a decent amount of emergency medical coverage including repatriation costs for those who need it. Have an accident abroad and you’ll know full well how expensive treatment can get in a foreign hospital. Coverage applies to both competitive events and recreational rides. Take note however, that there is a limit to each bike’s insured value under the policy, while theft is not covered.

Buy Tokio Marine if:

You cycle both in and out of Malaysia competitively or recreationally, but don’t really do other sports.

Want medium coverage for two of your bikes and other related equipment.

Mid tier Option 2: Allianz

Allianz’s insurance policy is definitely designed for cyclists, but has its focus on a slightly different segment. It has two parts, the first of which is the All Risk Insurance which insures your bicycle against damage from a crash of any kind, injuries to the cyclist, personal liability to a third party, as well as theft - which no other insurer does.

This applies if your bike is stolen from any secure location like from home or the office, or even if you can prove that it was forcibly taken from a roof or car rack. The bike will be insured at full value, meaning you can replace it with another of similar value when making a claim. You can also insure three to four bikes under a single policy, double that of Tokio Marine.

There is a minimum RM150 ringgit premium even if your bike is worth less than RM5,000, but this will go up according to the insured value of your bike. One special thing about this policy is that there is no cap to the amount you can have insured for your bike. However, Allianz will not cover bikes older than 7 years, while only those 3 years old or less will be insured according to its full value.

Anything aged between 3 and 7 years will be insured based on its market value. While the bikes are covered fairly well under this policy, this only applies to the frame, wheelset and groupset; attachments like your bike computer, other accessories/equipment or apparel are not covered.

The second part of the policy is Allianz’ Shield PA, which is essentially an exclusive personal accident plan. It covers snatch theft, medical expenses and hospital income, even sinseh treatment, and offers cashless hospital admission in the event of accidents. This part of the policy that protects both you and your family and has a double indemnity clause, in addition to 24-hour worldwide coverage.

Don’t confuse the two parts though, because damage to or theft of the bicycle only applies to local incidents only. If you’re abroad and happen to be cycling when a mishap happens, you cannot claim for it.

Also take note that even though you can't find much information online on this particular package, it does indeed exist. You can email Mr How and the rest of the folks in the team at bikeinsurance2016@gmail.com for more information.

Buy Allianz if:

You only cycle at home in Malaysia, either competitively or recreationally, and don’t do other sports.

Your bicycles are of higher value than normal, and you’ve more than two that need to be insured.

Making a final choice

Essentially, there are a few questions that can help you make this decision.

Do you participate in multi-sports events or other physical activities?

How high is your sports injury risk?

Do you cycle abroad?

How expensive are your bikes and gear?

These three plans that we have highlighted above are all very good options, but all have their pros and cons. However, there is no right or wrong when it comes to your own pick of the three. In the end, your choice of preferred insurance policy will largely depend on these answers, because these will determine what works for you and how you cycle.

Finally a note of caution: read all the fine details before you sign up for anything, particularly what instances will prevent the company from honouring your policy if and when you (unfortunately) need to make a claim.