Insurance for People who Bike
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HUB Cycling is in ongoing discussions with ICBC, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General and others in the insurance industry in an effort to advocate on behalf of people who bike. We are also aiming to provide you with more details on insurance related topics as they pertain to cycling.
Insurance questions can often be very specific to the situation – whether it is your personal situation before a crash or the unique circumstances once a crash has happened.
For this reason, the answers below are general and while they will apply to most situations, there could be exceptions based on the specific case.
The best advice about the insurance needed to protect you in the event of a crash is available from an insurance broker. Insurance brokers are licensed insurance professionals who can help you find the right protection from all the companies that offer it.
After a crash involving a vehicle, ICBC is available to answer questions about what benefits you may be entitled to and how they may be able to help with your recovery. ICBC is required, by law, to advise and assist every British Columbian with their claim and endeavor to ensure that every person is informed about, and receives, all the benefits to which they are entitled. More information on the benefits available in a crash is available on ICBC’s injury claims page.
What type(s) of insurance is available for someone who rides and/or owns a bicycle?
1. Theft and Loss
Standard homeowner’s or tenant’s insurance policies typically cover bike theft/loss up to $1,000-$5,000, and this protection extends to when you’re traveling. However, standard policies may not cover the full value of your bike (depending on what it’s worth) and may have a high deductible (up to $1,000) for claims.
Enquire with your insurance provider to confirm the specifics of your policy.
2. Collision and Injury
For bike injury-related healthcare costs that extend beyond what’s covered by your Medical Services Plan, there are a few different options that might be helpful in supporting your return to health.
a) ICBC’s Enhanced Care
Under ICBC’s Enhanced Care, any British Columbian – including people cycling – injured in a crash with a moving vehicle anywhere in Canada or the United States are entitled to receive all of the care and recovery benefits they need, regardless of whether they were responsible for the crash or not. If a B.C. resident doesn’t have a vehicle they insure – for example, they cycle or walk only – they are still covered for income replacement if they are injured in a crash with a vehicle up to 90% of their after-tax income in wage-loss benefits (to a maximum of $100,000 of pre-tax income).
If they earn more than $100,000 a year, people cycling and walking are also able to purchase additional coverage. ICBC’s Income Top-Up (icbc.com, PDF brochure) is optional coverage that provides additional income replacement support to top up the wage loss benefits provided from Enhanced Care. ICBC’s optional Income Top-Up policy is only sold to individual customers and isn’t tied to vehicle coverage. If you are a B.C. resident, you don’t need to have an insured vehicle to purchase this product.
The key feature of ICBC income top-up coverage is that it extends the limit on the income replacement benefit available under Enhanced Care.
While it is not necessary to insure a motor vehicle in order to purchase ICBC income top-up coverage, you can only access the income top-up benefit in incidents where income replacement would apply. Learn more at icbc.com
Income replacement covers income loss as a result of injuries sustained in the crash and does not pay for vehicle or bicycle repairs. Nevertheless, as long as the person cycling is not responsible for the crash, they can still sue the responsible driver for damages caused to their bike, if they have the financial means to do so.
There are a number of steps that can be taken if someone wishes to appeal a decision about their claim, including accessing ICBC’s Fair Practice Office and the Civil Resolution Tribunal. Learn more at icbc.com
Drivers convicted of drunk driving can still be sued by victims.
ICBC income replacement and income top-up benefits would not apply if a person walking or cycling is injured in a situation that does not involve a moving vehicle like a fall or accidentally hitting a stationary object, even if that stationary object is a parked car.
b) Homeowner’s/ tenant’s insurance
Extended benefits packages (e.g. Pacific Blue Cross), or home insurance generally provide “accidental death and disability” coverage which provides pay-outs for different amounts depending on your injury.
Standard homeowner’s/ tenant’s insurance contracts cover around $2M in third-party liability if you caused a collision and another person was injured. Not all contracts cover you though - it’s important to check the wording in your policy to determine what specific liability coverage you have.
HUB Cycling recommends getting in touch with your insurance company(ies) including home insurance and auto insurance if applicable and confirming what your policy covers in terms of theft and loss, collision and injury and liability.
Other recommendations from legal representatives include wearing a body cam while biking for the purposes of collecting evidence in the event of a crash and following these tips to prevent bike theft.
What is HUB Cycling’s stance on cycling insurance and ICBC’s Enhanced Care Insurance System?
HUB Cycling endeavors to provide the most accurate and meaningful information for vulnerable road users to best support themselves and others in the case of a collision.
There is an integral link between legislation that protects vulnerable road users and the insurance provisions for vulnerable road users. For example, a person cycling may be forced to take an evasive action to avoid being struck by a motor vehicle and be injured, without actually colliding with that vehicle. Liability rests with the road user that was breaking a law, but in many cases, the laws aren’t clear. For example, BC has no Safe Passing Distance Law, unlike many other jurisdictions in North America. That means there are no clear legal expectations and accountability for ICBC to stand behind. There is a role for ICBC to advocate to the Government of BC to adopt this law and modernize the full Motor Vehicle Act to be a more inclusive Road Safety Act, and a role for the Government of BC to take immediate action.
HUB Cycling along with other BC cycling organizations and active transport organizations have concerns with the ICBC Enhanced Care insurance system. We are actively lobbying the provincial government and ICBC to consider changes and ensure the views and experiences of active transportation users are heard.
You can read more about HUB’s communications with ICBC here.
GOOD TO KNOW FAQ's
What type of extended ICBC third-party liability coverage is available to people who bike?
Third-party insurance for people cycling is not available from ICBC. The best advice on products available is available from an insurance broker.
What is covered by just having a BC Drivers's License?
Under B.C. law, people cycling and walking don’t need to purchase ICBC insurance or hold a BC Driver’s License to be eligible to receive care and recovery benefits if they are injured in a crash with a vehicle. That includes income replacement benefits if they’re unable to work, and additional benefits in the event of a serious or life-altering injury.
What is covered if you own and insure a car with ICBC vs you are simply listed as an insured driver on someone else's policy?
The benefits under Enhanced Care coverage are available to all British Columbians whether you are an owner, driver, passenger, cyclist, or pedestrian, regardless of whether you caused the crash or not.
If a driver is underinsured, what impact does that have on a vulnerable road user's coverage?
Enhanced Care benefits are set under the law and are not tied to how much insurance the vehicle owner purchased. So no matter how much, or how little, the owner has purchased, you still have access to the same benefits.
Do the courts still have a role in situations involving drunk drivers, pub liability, vehicle manufacturer liability, etc. - Are there any other roles for lawyers?
Yes, under Enhanced Care, the most dangerous drivers are still held accountable. For example, if you are injured in a crash and the at-fault driver is convicted of certain Criminal Code offenses (such as impaired driving), you can still sue the other party in a civil claim for certain damages. You also have the ability to sue some other parties for certain damages if their actions may have contributed to the crash, such as a pub owner or vehicle manufacturer.
Under Enhanced Care, ICBC is required, by law, to advise and assist every British Columbian with their claim and endeavor to ensure that every person is informed about, and receives, all the benefits to which they are entitled.
Under Enhanced Care, you can still retain a lawyer if you wish to seek legal advice for your claim or have them represent you.
How does ICBC assess collisions involving e-scooters and other micromobility including electric-assist* bikes?
The legality of a micro-mobility device is not a factor in how ICBC assesses liability but rather the actions of the person using the device.
Similarly, if you are in a collision while on an electric-assist bike you will be subject to the same rules and duties as the driver of a motor vehicle.
This applies to e-bikes that do not exceed 500 watts total.
There are different rules for limited-speed e-motorcycles, such as mopeds and scooters, which can be found on ICBC's website.
*The central characteristic of an electric-assist e-bike is that the electrical power assists the person riding. In other words, when the person riding stops pedaling, the power function ought to cease. This is the defining characteristic that differentiates them from other electric vehicles that are propelled without the operator utilizing the pedals.
What course of action should a vulnerable road user take if they have been forced into a crash due to a motor vehicle without being hit by the vehicle (evasive action)?
The best course if there is an interaction with a motor vehicle that results in an injury – even if there is no contact – is to contact ICBC. ICBC will be able to let the vulnerable road user know what benefits may be available in the circumstances. Liability rests with the road user that was breaking a law.
What is the main difference between the current No-Fault system compared to the previous tort system, regarding people cycling receiving compensation?
A person cycling can no longer file an injury claim for damages and issues of liability and quantum (assessment of damages). They are limited to the income replacement and rehabilitation care assessed by ICBC. Regarding damaged bicycles or property, if the person cycling is not responsible for the crash, they can still sue the responsible driver for damages caused to their bike, but may be limited by the financial requirements to hire legal counsel.
The new ICBC policy regarding active transportation users involved in crashes with motor vehicles requires differentiation of “severe or catastrophic injury” from “non-severe accidents.” The latter is supposed to rely on a “committee of experts,” but both require a detailed assessment of health and well-being. Are there health professionals on these assessment panels? What kind?
Any claim involving a severe or catastrophic injury to a cyclist will no longer be considered for subrogation. Subrogation means when ICBC decides to recover money from the responsible cyclist.
The committee’s role will be to review any claim which involves a non-severe or non-catastrophic injury to a cyclist to ensure any decision on whether to subrogate or not.
In most cases, the new committee will not play a role in differentiating the type of injury – this is done through established processes by ICBC's injury claims recovery team and from the diagnosis provided by the injured person’s health care professionals. However, the committee membership does include the expertise to review injury claim information and acts as a second pair of eyes to ensure injuries have been properly categorized as non-severe for the purposes of subrogation.
If the injury has not yet been classified as severe, the claim will then go to the committee for a decision. The committee's mandate is to look at the totality of the situation and consider that the injury could become severe.
Does ICBC coordinate with other insurance companies for motor vehicle coverage, eg out-of-province drivers hitting an ICBC customer, reducing the pressure on an individual suffering from the consequences of a crash? Could they also coordinate with homeowner or renter's policy issuers that provide coverage for people cycling?
ICBC does not coordinate claims or benefits with other auto insurance companies, whether inside or outside of the province and would not be able to do this for homeowners’ or renter’s policies.
Where can I turn if I am involved in a collision and require legal assistance or representation?
Please see HUB’s information on ‘been in a collision?'
What are some insurance providers I can contact for cycling insurance?
Most cycling insurance costs $20-40/year. Here are some options:
If you are a member of a cycling Participating Provincial Association, your member benefits may include cycling-related insurance when taking part in sanctioned cycling races/events. Speak to your PPA for more details.
What were the May 2022 changes to ICBC’s split liability/subrogation policy for vulnerable road users?
ICBC will not seek recovery charges against a vulnerable road user when the collision involves:
-50/50 internal responsibility determination is made with no evidence/proof (Note that 50-50 determination doesn’t necessarily mean equal responsibility, it is used often across the industry when insurers can’t determine fault, eg conflicting stories and lack of evidence)
-Severe or catastrophic injury as defined under Enhanced Care
-There is a fatality
ICBC will require committee approval for:
-Recovery involving less severe injuries
-Guardians of vulnerable road users age 15 and under