Cyclists and Auto Insurance: The Coverage You May Not Know About
It’s that time of year again when bicyclists take to the road. The snow has melted, the sun is out and it’s a great way to get exercise. Unfortunately however, with more people out and about on their bikes and in their cars, a collision involving a bicyclist and a driver isn’t uncommon.
Cyclists often don’t realize that when they are riding their bikes, they are covered by their auto insurance for injuries that might occur as the result of an accident with another vehicle. You may also be eligible to receive benefits from the insurance company of the motorist that is involved in the accident with you. Cyclists can receive medical payments, pain and suffering benefits, and more if they file a claim with the auto insurance company.
What’s Available If You’re Involved In A Collision?
Cyclists involved in an accident with a motorist may be entitled to coverage from a few different areas. First, if the motorist is at fault, their insurance company may cover the damages to your bicycle. And, if there are injuries involved, cyclists may get benefits such as medical payments, income loss, and other costs related to recovering from the injury.
What you may qualify for from your insurance company will depends on the coverages your policy includes. If you don’t have your own policy, you may be covered under the policy of a guardian or family member (assuming you’re listed on their policy). There is also coverage available through the auto insurance company of the motorist involved in the accident.
The amount of benefits for which you qualify may not be the same as what you would receive in a car accident, but it can make a big difference during your recovery period.
Obtaining Benefits If In A Collision With A Vehicle
The most important thing to do is to treat the accident just as you would a car accident. If you can, take photographs of the scene. Cell phone cameras are convenient for this. You should also call the police and ensure that a report is taken if needed. Both the photos and the report are helpful in establishing what happened and seeking the right benefits. Be sure to collect contact and insurance information from everyone involved in the collision.
The next step is to call your insurance company. It may be helpful to talk to your agent and to seek advice regarding what is likely to be covered. If a motorist is involved and you do not have insurance, you can file a claim directly with the driver’s insurance company. You can file this claim no matter who is found at fault; and remember, the decision of the police as to who was at fault does not necessarily mean the insurance company will draw the same conclusion.
Involving the Courts in Your Claim
As a cyclist injured in an accident, you do have the right to sue a driver who is involved. Fortunately, in most cases this is not necessary as most car insurance companies will pay out the benefits. But, if you do have to go this route, you have two years in which to file your case in court, but only 120 days in which to notify the other person involved that you intend to do so. It’s best to move quickly since the process can take some time. Generally, the notification of your intention to go to court will be enough to get the benefits released.
As a cyclist, it’s important to remember that you share the road with much larger vehicles, and that you are required to follow rules of the road as much as anyone behind the wheel of a car. Ride safely and carefully, but know what your rights are when an accident does occur.
Safe Riding Tips
Stay safe riding your bike and remember to:
- Equip your bike with a front white light, rear red light and a bell (or horn)
- Wear a helmet
- Ride predictably
- Don’t weave in and out of traffic
- Give yourself, and the cars around you, enough room
- Don’t ride distracted
- Obey traffic laws
- Signal your intentions
- Make eye contact with drivers
- Wear bright clothing so you’ll be seen better
With more and more riders on the roads—everyone, cyclists, drivers and pedestrians need to make room for each other to stay safe.