Company, club join together to offer cycling insurance
Sometimes when a car passes me while I’m on my bike and I look over and see the driver texting, I think, “Man, I really wish I had cycling insurance.”
And sometimes, when I’m driving and a cyclist riding on the wrong side of the road makes a too-wide turn into oncoming traffic, I think, “Man, I really wish that guy had cycling insurance.”
But for a long time liability and accident insurance has been unavailable or too expensive for the average cyclist.
Earlier this month two Portland companies teamed up in an effort to change that. Better World Club, an auto club, and Gale Creek Insurance launched what they call the “first nationwide, comprehensive and affordable” insurance for cyclists. They plan to offer theft insurance later this summer.
Jeffrey Lang of Gale Creek Insurance is an avid cyclist and biking advocate who has been working to develop cycling insurance for more than a decade.
He says it’s been hard to figure out who would buy cycling insurance and said it wasn’t profitable to write individual policies. Teaming up with Better World Club gave them access to a large group of cyclists.
Better World Club is popular with bicycle commuters because it is environmentally conscious (it donates 1 percent of revenue to environmental cleanup and advocacy) and it claims to have the only nationwide roadside assistance program for cyclists.
“We pioneered bicycle roadside assistance,” said Mitch Rofsky, Better World’s president.
Enrollment is $39.95 per year and includes assistance for your car and bike and, as of July 5, members get Gale Creek’s cycling insurance free for one year, Rofsky said. Subscribers will have to pay extra for theft insurance when it becomes available next month. Rates for theft insurance have not yet been announced.
The cycling insurance, called BIKEon, can be added for family members for $17 per person each year. The insurance covers up to $100,000 to reimburse the cyclist for bills and covers liability up to $1 million per occurrence (up to three accidents per year). Road bikes, mountain bikes and electric bikes are covered. BMX bikes and bikes used for commercial purposes aren’t covered.
Currently the insurance is only available for Better World Club members, but Lang said Gale Creek Insurance plans to eventually make the insurance available through other organizations.
Cyclists can depend on their homeowners insurance if they are liable in an accident and their auto insurance if they are injured by an uninsured motorist. But Lang hopes BIKEon will protect more people,
“Our mission is to help the most needy, the 25-year-old kid who is commuting to work in an urban area and has no health insurance and is run over by an uninsured motorist,” Lang said. “Typically he gets his wages garnished for five years. ... This is the person who is doing the best thing for the community and the environment by riding his bike. He is doing the right thing and he ends up getting ripped off by the system.
“We want bicyclists to get the same treatment as they would driving a motor vehicle.”
CAPITAL’S NEW RIDE
The Capital Bicycle Club is retiring one of its most established summer rides and will replace it with it the inaugural Ride the South Sound on Sept. 9.
The club decided to end the Tenino-Rainier-Yelm-Bucoda Rally, staged each August, because of dwindling interest. The ride drew 120 riders last year, 350 fewer riders than the club gets for its other major ride, the Two County Double Metric Century held each June.
Last summer, the club enlisted club road captain Sue Duffy and club member Laura Phenix to analyze the dwindling interest in TRYBR. What they learned, said club promotions director Carole Bernhardt, was that riders thought the food stops, maps and route markers were subpar.
Duffy and Phenix proposed that it would be more productive to abandon the ride and launch a new one rather than try to make fixes to a ride with a poor reputation.
They decided to build a ride that would showcase downtown Olympia and South Sound scenery. They also wanted to appeal to a wide range of cyclists by offering routes from 10-100 miles.
At least 10 sponsors have already signed on to support Ride the South Sound.
“The new ride truly is a celebration of local cycling,” Bernhardt said.
Registration is $20-35 depending on the route selected. Families can ride for $40 and students with identification and seniors 65 and older can ride for $10. For more information visit cascadebicycleclub.org
Craig Hill’s fitness column runs Sundays. Submit questions and comments via email@example.com and twitter.com/AdventureGuys
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