Get on your bike – but try to stay one step ahead of the thieves

Warm weather and high fuel prices mean more cyclists on the road, as well as a rise in bike theft. Make sure you're covered, say Chiara Cavaglieri and Julian Knight

With the price of petrol exceeding 120p a litre, thousands of Brits will be leaving their cars at home in favour of two wheels. But bike theft is one of the fastest growing areas of crime. Statistics from the latest British Crime Survey show that in 2008/09 there were an estimated 540,000 bikes stolen, up 22 per cent on the previous survey.

One of the UK's biggest insurance providers, Halifax, says that bike theft rose by 65 per cent last summer. With economic times still tough, there is little reason to think that this summer won't bring a similar deluge of thefts. "We anticipate that this year bike theft may be on the up as high fuel prices mean people look for ways to economise, and warm sunny weather makes cycling a more appealing option. Many bikes that are stolen are locked up, but often some types of locks such as cables can be cut and are not enough of a deterrent," said Martyn Foulds from Halifax Home Insurance.

The average value of a bike is now about £150, according to the Association of Cycle Traders, but this doesn't reflect the true cost of replacing a stolen two-wheeler. The average claim on Halifax's bike insurance following a theft is £388. But if you're a keen rider who bought carbon-fibre frames and super-light wheels, costs can soar into the thousands. It is vital that all cyclists have adequate insurance cover.

"All bike riders should do four things before they start riding: invest in a good bike lock, store their bike in a safe place and make sure they have bike insurance and legal protection against accidents. With these things in place, cyclists can enjoy riding their bikes with a piece of mind that they are fully covered," says Terry Greenwood, membership manager at British Cycling, the national governing body for cycle sport.

There are two options for bicycle insurance: it can be added on to a home contents policy for an additional premium, or it can be taken out as a stand-alone product. Generally speaking, the most cost-effective option is to add it on to your home insurance which can often add just a few pounds to annual premiums. It may not affect premiums at all, as with both Swinton and Kwik Fit, according to research by Confused.com, based on a bike worth £300 wit the policyholder living in Coventry.

Always check your policy to ensure that you have an appropriate level of cover. Many cyclists make the mistake of thinking they are automatically covered for theft outside of the home, but this may not always be the case – best check the small print. In addition, be aware if you have an expensive bike as many insurers apply a single item limit.

"Most home contents will automatically cover bikes up to £500 but will ask people to specify bikes over £500. So it's a mistake for people to assume that the full value will be covered, particularly if they've bought a posh new one," says Adrian Webb from esure.

If you want to ensure that your bike is completely protected, you'll need to add "personal possessions cover away from the home" to your policy, and if you're bike is expensive it may need to be classified as a specified item. There will also be certain conditions to the cover; for example, most insurers will require you to keep your bike in a locked garden shed or garage and cycles left unsecured will not be covered at all. Mr Foulds also advises taking extra steps to ensure that you can prove ownership to the insurer should you need to claim. "It's a good idea to take photographs of the bike, and keep any receipts to prove purchase of the bike itself and also any modifications that have been added, for example mudguards, lights and tyres," he said.

You may also need to buy and use a lock or risk invalidating your policy, so find out which locks are approved by your insurer. D-locks are often seen as the most difficult to break and thereby find themselves on insurers' approved lists. Some companies may even refuse to pay out if your bike is stolen between certain hours (usually late at night), so always read through the list of policy exclusions carefully.

As with any insurance policy, you also need to check if there is an excess payable when making a claim. If your bike is pricey you may not be able to claim the full price on your policy. Another sticking point could be the issue of wear and tear, so check to see if your insurer offers new-for-old cover or if it will replace your bike only at a depreciated value.

"The main things to look out for in the terms and condition are the amount of bikes you can cover on one policy and the maximum amount that will be paid out per bike," says Darren Black, head of home insurance at Confused.com. With Swinton, five bikes can be covered per policy with a maximum payout of £500 per bike. Swinton also levies some strict conditions with no payout if the bike is used for racing and rallies, or if it is damaged by any mechanical breakdown or failure and no cover for accessories, tyres or quick-release features.

If you have a valuable bike and want the security of more comprehensive cover, it may be better to got for a stand-alone policy from companies such as Cycleguard, E&LI and Insureyoubicycle.co.uk which will cover a bike up to £4,000.

Stand-alone policies are more expensive, starting at around £25 a year for a basic policy, but they do typically include personal liability to protect against any damage to other vehicles if you cause an accident, personal injury and third-party cover. Some will also provide cover if you want to take your bike abroad.

Specialist providers may also offer a wider variety of policies if you need a more flexible arrangement. For example, at Cycleguard there are five policies to choose from including one for children, one for triathletes and others which provide stand-alone roadside recovery or public liability cover.

How to keep your bike safe

1. Make use of bicycle racks and always lock your bike, even if leaving it for only a few minutes.

2. Park your bike in well-lit busy areas.

3. Keep bicycles indoors and locked when not in use.

4. Invest in a good lock. Use a hardened D-shape lock as cable locks can be easily cut.

5. Have your bike marked and registered with a police security initiative such as bikeregister.com.

6. Keep photos of your bike and write down the name, model and serial number in case you need to report this to the police.

7. Check your home insurance policy and consider extra cover for contents outside the home.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

    £15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future