Your household insurance can in some cases also protect your electric bike. But to be 100% covered, you have to subscribe to specific guarantees. An example of France.
Fast, practical and eco-friendly, electric-assisted bicycles seem to be a hit in France. Sales of new e-bikes have exploded in recent years: 102,000 in 2015, 134,000 in 2016, and a spectacular jump to 254,870 units in 2017.
“The market should be up again in 2018,” said Virgile Caillet, delegate general of the Union Sport and Cycle, the body bringing together professionals in the sector (and the market was indeed up in 2018! Read more in my post). In comparison, today, it sells twice as many electric bicycles as new scooters under 50 cm3.
But, whether it’s having fun outdoors or going to work without too much sweat (find out how not to sweat on your e-bike commute in my post), these new-style cyclists have to ask themselves a basic question before jumping on their ultra-fast bikes: who will cover the costs in case of an accident or theft (more on how to protect your e-bike from theft in my post)?
Here are a few considerations.
Am I covered by car or motorcycle insurance?
No. Your car or motorcycle insurance will not be of any help in the event of an accident with an e-bike. Car and motorcycle insurance is designed for vehicles classified as “land motor vehicles”, and your e-bike is not one of those by this classification.
However, “for insurers, electric-assisted bikes are, above all, just bicycles, that is to say, it is necessary to pedal for an e-bike to move forward”, says Alexis Merkling, in charge of private insurance of the French Federation of Insurance (FFA).
“So, as an electric bike is similar to a conventional bike, the cyclist is not obliged to have insurance, even though it is highly recommended!” explains Marie-Lou Ménard, home product manager of MAIF insurance (do you need insurance for an e-bike? read in this post).
Can household insurance be applied?
Yes. “It includes a civil liability guarantee that will cover you if you are responsible for damage to others,” said Alexis Merkling, of the French Federation of Insurance (FFA). Whether it is simple material or physical damage (pedestrians or other), your home insurance will play a role.
But, whatever happens, you will have to dive deeper into your home insurance contract to understand the details of what is covered and what is not. For example, if you are at the origin of an accident or if you fall all alone, there is a good chance that you also undergo physical damages.
In this case, simple civil liability insurance will not be able to do anything for you. It is when individual accident insurance (school insurance, “life accident guarantees”, etc.) that will have to be looked at. They supplement the compensation of health insurance in case of a large accident, preventing you, for example, from going to work for a number of days.
And if you are a victim of a robbery?
Electrically assisted bicycles are expensive (on average 1,500 euros, and can be up to 2,500 or even 3,000 euros), so they are interesting objects for thieves. The multirisk home insurance policy can cover you against theft of your e-bike if the electric bike is stored at home.
On the other hand, when you use your e-bike on city streets, you will need to subscribe to an additional anti-theft option with your insurer.
“The cost of such anti-theft option is variable, but on average it will cost around 5 euros per month. The guarantee is acquired within the limit of 400 euros per claim “, as it is emphasized, for example, at AXA insurance.
AXA also has a supplement to cover cases of above 400 euros: “We have also added an optional premium guarantee with which we cover any property specifically referred to in the contract (worth more than 400 euros) in case of theft, breakage (even partial) and other cases. “
If your current insurer does not offer this option, you can turn to a specialized e-bike insurer. In case of theft, the insurer will ask you to prove that you have purchased your e-bike (a bill or other type of confirmation), that your e-bike was secure (anti-theft lock purchase bill, etc.) and that your e-bike has been stolen (filing a complaint at the police).
Franchise, exclusions, theft
You’ve just bought your new 1,500-euro power-assisted bike and are scared to break or if it could get stolen. If your home insurer does not offer to cover you, you will have to turn to a dedicated insurance policy. Count a good hundred euros a year to buy one.
You should be able to find electric bike insurance offers in some of the sports equipment retail stores (Decathlon or others) or surfing the Internet (Cyclassur, Velosur or others).
Check which cased are not covered
Check all cases in which the insurance applies. Look for the policy to be as complete as possible. The policy should cover theft in public areas and roads. Make sure that thefts by assault or tricking the rider are not excluded from the insurance compensation.
Check how theft is described
To make its theft warranty applicable, the insurer usually asks to secure your bike on the public areas with a bike lock. But be careful, it is often not just any bike lock. Each insurer has its own policy in this area. Some insurers require a specific brand or model of a bike lock to be installed. If this is not the case, your case will not be covered.
Does franchise apply?
Most of electric bicycle insurance contracts impose a franchise. And a franchise is often not small. For example, in Decathlon contract it is a minimum of 10%. It may also apply for Cyclassur policies, if you, for example, did not implement the anti-theft engraving of your e-bike. Read more on how to protect your e-bike from theft in this post.
In case of theft, do not expect a refund or replacement to new. Indeed, your insurer will apply a discount on the reimbursement related to the “obsolescence” of your electric bike.
In short, the older your e-bike, the less you will be reimbursed. This discount is often 1% per month of aging of your e-bike. With Cyclassur, for example, a minimum is 12% in case of the insurance incident.
Do your own calculations
The game of franchises and obsolescence can result in refund tricks for some e-bicycles. If your e-bike is older than two years, having e-bike insurance does not seem financially viable anymore.
Here is one example. Electric bike insurance offered by Assurance Velo. The franchise, for a bike of 1 500 euros, amounts to 200 euros, but can reach 50% of the value of replacement to a new e-bike in “case of non-redemption of an equivalent e-bike”. The contract applies the obsolescence rate of 30% from the 3rd year (and even 60% from the 4th year).
In other words, for a bike of 1,500 euros, if it gets stolen after four years, you will only recover 400 euros in the best case scenario. However, this insurance costs 90 euros per year, which then does not make a lot of sense for the e-bike owner.
Choosing e-bike insurance in Switzerland
If you own a powerful electric bike, it would make good sense to check if your household insurance includes it. Depending on the policy and insurance company, household insurance may not cover certain risks, such as theft, for example.
More than 111,000 electric bicycles were sold in Switzerland in 2018, a phenomenal 27% increase over the previous year. In total, a good half million of electric bikes (slower ones that run up to 25km / h and faster ones that run at 45km / h) are now in circulation in the country. The vast majority of these cycles, more than three quarters, are in the “light” category.
Insurance companies distinguish between “slow” electric bicycles, called “light mopeds”, and “fast” or “speed” electric bicycles, called “electric mopeds”. This is particularly important concerning liability insurance and the risk of theft.
We interviewed nine insurance companies and compared their insurance benefits for e-bikes. The results show that insurance companies usually do not cover all “fast” e-bikes with their household insurance policies.
In the case of fast or speed e-bikes, it is necessary to buy auto insurance or specialized e-bike insurance.
Check if all costs are covered
On the other hand, protection against theft does not pose a problem for “slow” electric bicycles. All insurance companies that we have talked to, classify e-bikes in the slow category as traditional bicycles. They are, thus, usually insured against theft by traditional household insurance.
That said, it does not matter if your e-bike is “fast” or “slow”. When the protection against theft goes through household insurance, the following points must be observed when buying your e-bike:
- Check the amount of insurance in your household insurance policy. It may be the case that the amount is not enough and your e-bike equipment will be underinsured.
- If the e-bike is stolen outside of the household, you may need to have a supplement that covers such cases.
- If you have an old policy, check the coverage, as e-bikes may be excluded. In this case, you need to agree on an adjustment with the insurer.
- If you intend to insure damage of your e-bike, including shock, or other options, depending on your insurance partner, you may want to take the insurance that covers objects of value. For an e-bike worth 5000 Swiss francs, such insurance costs between 30 and 230 Swiss francs.
Specialized insurance for e-bikes
The strong demand for e-bikes has led to new and specialized insurance offers: Bâloise, Generali, La Mobilière and Zurich offer special e-bike insurance policies.
Depending on the product, such policies cover not only theft or damage but also troubleshooting, vandalism or legal protection.
For an e-bike worth 3000 Swiss francs, the cost of a specialized insurance policy would be between 70 and 200 Swiss francs. For an e-bike worth 5000 Swiss francs, the cost will come to 110 and 270 Swiss francs.