Cycling Insurance Options for Car-Free Life

Posted on behalf of Rizk Law on Nov 14, 2016 in Insurance Issues

Comprehensive cycling insurance hasn’t caught on yet, despite the rise in zero-car households. With many cyclists dependent on their bikes for their daily commute, it is still shocking to understand the limits of comprehensive insurance options for those who rely on a bicycle as their main method of transportation. At RizkLaw, we occasionally do get inquiries from uninsured cyclists who have been injured by uninsured or underinsured motorists while on a ride. Even if the driver is at fault, who pays? Who can you sue for damages?

The way it stands, if this happens to you and you drive a car, you must rely on your own personal injury protection coverage that is required by law. You can also appeal to your health insurance coverage, but that will only cover injury and not liability, lost wages, or any damage that may have been done to your bike. When car-on-bike accidents occur and neither party has adequate insurance coverage, problems arise. The situation is more common than you may think, as many Oregonians simply do not have even the bare minimum car insurance coverage required by state law.

What options for damages exist after a bike accident?

Over 90% of cyclists in Portland also own cars, however this number is gradually declining among new homeowners. Currently, if you are a cyclist and you cause an accident or you have been injured, you rely on your own auto insurance coverage to reap damages. But why have car insurance if your bike is your primary method of transportation? Although the limited options for proper coverage is a blow to those who reject cars, there are a few workarounds to ensure you are covered when the unexpected happens. It is important to know your options in case of a single-vehicle crash, a hit and run, or a crash with an uninsured motorist.

Health Insurance

If you are an uninsured cyclist who does not pay for auto insurance, you should consider some form of health insurance. With health insurance you can appeal to your own policy even if the driver who caused your injuries has proper insurance coverage. As mentioned, health insurance coverage cannot extend to lost wages or property damage; however, your medical bills can escalate quickly and are often your biggest expense. Be aware that if after your insurance kicks in and covers your expenses you receive extra damages for medical bills from the driver’s insurance policy, you may be required to reimburse your health insurance provider.

Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance

Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance covers two types of losses. The first is from loss that results from your own liability, or losses that are your own fault. This can include severe damage to your bicycle if you have the right policy. Under personal liability coverage, you are covered for negligent acts that cause personal injury to somebody else, or cause damage to someone else’s’ property.  The second type of coverage you receive with such policies is theft. If your bicycle is stolen, you can be covered for the full loss if you insure the bike for its replacement value.

Buy a Cheap Car

By cheap, we mean real cheap. Less than $1,000 cheap. A good old clunker car will do, so long as you can purchase insurance for it and leave it parked somewhere. If you purchase a low-risk vehicle, insurance should be reasonably priced.

In Oregon, your insurance policy must include property damage and bodily injury coverage as part of liability coverage. The minimum amount of coverage is $25,000/ $50,000/ $20,000. Your limits for bodily injury are $25,000 per person with a total maximum of $50,000 per incident. Up to $20,000 is covered for damage to another’s property. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) can be used to reimburse you for a portion of wage loss and medical expenses. The minimum of $15,000 per person. While it sounds counter-intuitive to buy a car just to have insurance, it may well be worth it.

Pay a Friend for Insurance Coverage

A final option is to pay a family member or friend to add you as a driver on their own auto insurance plan. This may be the most cost-effective way to find coverage until comprehensive bike insurance comes to fruition.

In the event that you’ve been hurt and find yourself in a complicated insurance situation, contact Portland personal injury attorney Richard Rizk. Richard and the team at Rizk Law have a proven history of success and charge no upfront fees if they take on your personal injury case. Ph: 503.245.5677.