12 Jan 2016


You put a lot into earning your holidays, so you want to enjoy your riding or racing when you’re abroad – and as dull as it seems, that means getting the right insurance in case the worst happens.

Theft is awful if you’re left with nothing afterwards, while injury is worse – even without finding you’re suddenly liable for tens or even hundreds of thousands of euros or dollars in medical and/or legal bills. So when an X-ray and a box of antibiotics can have US doctors chasing you for 3,000 Euros, and an airline can present you with a destroyed bike – or no bike at all – and legally deny responsibility, it doesn’t take much for the trip of the year to turn sour. Take a few precautions, however, and you can breathe easily (or at least to your VO2 max…) once again.

Along with packing carefully, pay close attention to your insurance cover

Here are the pitfalls to avoid:

Personal cover

Firstly, make sure your personal cover is appropriate – while road and leisure cycling is often covered on standard policies, racing and mountain biking frequently aren’t.
In fact, some policies appear to cover off-roading, but careful reading reveals they only cover ‘mountain biking’ on roads or paths! Actual mountains, trails and bike parks may be excluded, so read carefully.
Races and events such as triathlons or sportives are unlikely to be covered at all, and you may need to try specialist insurance firms – which are becoming more numerous. It’s also worth looking at products from cycle-specific organisations.

Bike and equipment

You’ll need insurance for your bike and associated gear. The limits for individual items and the total claimable value will probably be too low on ‘regular’ travel insurance, though you may be able to raise them for an extra fee.
There are separate policies available to cover bikes and kit, but it’s still vital to check the terms. They may stipulate things such as locks or secure storage that are simply unavailable to you.
If you really can’t comply, or only can for a fraction of the time, the insurance is functionally worthless. The key is simply to wade through the small print exactly like they don’t want you to, and make sure you’re happy before you leave.
For total peace of mind, ensure your chosen provider is regulated by the appropriate body for your home nation, such as the Institute for the Supervision of Insurance (ISVAP) in Italy, BaFin – Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht in Germany, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK, and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in the USA.

Wherever you take your ‘holiday’, get the niggles like insurance covered so you can concentrate on enjoying your ride!


You should get liability insurance as well as travel insurance, in case a claim is made against you for an accident which is your fault. And don’t assume that everything is covered. For instance, British Cycling membership includes cover up to £10 million while abroad, but that doesn’t cover the costs of medical bills, repatriation or legal representation, and there are similar schemes with a number of other national bodies.

Health Insurance Card

Make sure, if you’re riding and traveling in Europe, that you carry your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). It entitles to you healthcare in European Economic Area countries and Switzerland at either a reduced cost or for free. Note it doesn’t cover the costs of rescue, repatriation or private medical care. The card is free; don’t use any of the sites that charge for them.

And finally… don’t crash!

OK, that may be tricky, but remember that even with all the insurances in place the emphasis remains on you to be responsible and to ride appropriately. For example, do make sure you know which side of the road to ride on: while America and the whole of Continental Europe drives on the right, a number of countries including Australia, New Zealand and Britain drive on the left.

Good luck!