The 10 most dangerous states for cyclists—and the coverage riders need

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Spring is here and legions of bicyclists are taking to the streets.

Bicycling is a great way to increase health and happiness, but it’s also a liability—particularly if you live in some areas of the US. For cyclists in these states, certain insurance policies are vital.

Florida is the most hostile state for bicyclists, with 6.56 pedalcyclist fatalities per million people in 2011, according to data from the US Department of Transportation. Louisiana and Oregon follow close behind, with 3.93 and 3.87 deaths per million.

In Arizona, the city of Phoenix alone averages between 450 and 500 accidents a year involving bicycles.

No one is quite sure why these states rank as highly as they do in cyclist fatalities. Each municipality has different reporting procedures for accidents, which makes drawing conclusions about factors like time of day, model of bicycle, and rural versus urban streets more difficult. However, they do send an important message about potential safety hazards that producers in these areas would do well to express to cycling clients.

Merely updating medical and liability coverage for clients who bicycle won’t cut it, says the League of American Bicyclists.

“Claims against any of your existing policies may result in an increase in premiums,” said Scott Williams, membership director for the League. “But filing bike-related claims under a bike-specific policy may protect you from rate increases—and provide additional, supplemental coverage.”

Instead, producers in at-risk states should try to spread the risk. Williams recommends looking at carriers who offer cycle-centric policies that combine enhanced medical, accident, liability and damage coverage.

Such policies base premiums off of a client’s level of participation in cycling, and offer uninsured motorist coverage and roadside assistance as well as medical payments for incidents ranging from head injuries—the most common cycling injury—to death.

Policies aren’t overly expensive, either. Markel, a carrier for specialist insurance, offers comprehensive coverage ranging from $250 to $300 a year for most riders.

And cyclist insurance isn’t just for people who bicycle professionally, says bicycle attorney Robert Mionske. Producers would do well to recommend cyclist insurance to all clients who regularly ride a bike and don’t have proper coverage elsewhere.

“It has to do with what other insurance you have in place. If you own a car and that’s insured, you’ve got a lot of coverage there,” said Mionske. “But bicycle insurance does some extra things. It covers bicycle theft, bicycle damage—no other policy does that—roadside assistance, and trip interruption coverage. That’s critical.”

Mionske noted that with more people biking to work and fewer young people with driver’s licenses, there is a “big movement” in the insurance industry for bicycle coverage, which may pay off handsomely for producers in at-risk states.

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  • DAVE WILLIAMS on 11/4/2013 8:27:53 AM

    A Markel cyclist policy instant quote is available online from Velosurance is a cyclist owned and staffed company and you are always dealing with another cyclist who understands your insurance needs.

  • Neill Campbell on 4/1/2014 11:22:37 PM

    Is that per million people or per million cyclists? I would expect fatalities to correlate more closely to number of cyclists.

  • DAVE WILLIAMS on 4/2/2014 11:53:23 AM

    The accident rate is per million state residents per the US Census. There is no census of bicycle riders per state that we know of.

  • Libby Davis on 4/3/2014 9:54:26 AM

    Any cyclist products in Maine? I noticed Velosurance did not offer.

  • DAVE WILLIAMS on 4/3/2014 11:59:50 AM

    Maine is covered by the insurance company direct. and follow the bicycle links.

  • Carole Grimley on 4/4/2014 12:49:17 PM

    Florida has a high number of elderly drivers. Maybe the issue is really better testing for drivers.

  • DAVE WILLIAMS on 4/4/2014 1:25:06 PM

    Yes there is a big population of retired people in Florida and their driving skills can be a concern. I am deeply immersed in the cycling community in So. Florida and from my experience most car vs bicycle accidents are caused by inattentive drivers no matter what the age. Don't text and drive - it can wait!

  • WilliaM Fleischer, CIC on 4/7/2014 9:53:37 AM

    Beside cycling in New York City, I am also A insurance Agent for 30 years. I checked the Velo site and did not find any samples of the policy limits, Deductibles, exclusions or conditions.
    We have a simple saying in my office. the policy gives you coverage, then takes is away in the conditions and exclusions.
    Show the policy and the triggers.

  • Casey on 8/13/2014 10:42:25 AM

    Florida is also the most dangerous state for pedestrians. My guess is the suburban sprawl and strip mall-ization of that region means more cars, busier streets, etc, and that equates to greater peril for walkers and bikers

  • Brandy on 4/6/2015 12:15:47 PM

    Something to note:
    Bike value has to be over $500, new or used and for the casual rider (not one who competes or rides to work daily) such as myself (single, 36, casual rider) premium came in around $20.00/month with a deductible of $100.00 and $50K bodily injury chosen. BUT this would be great for people who bike to work!

  • Kyle on 4/7/2015 11:23:12 AM

    William, a sample of the policy t's and c's is listed on the web site FAQs.

  • Tina on 4/8/2015 1:16:39 PM

    For one who has just moved here from out of state it does not surprise me that Florida tops the list. I see one of the problems being in how bicyclists at least in my area ride. They do not abide by traffic laws, will cross a busy highway on a red light and have no common sense while riding their bike. This holds true for Pedestrians as well. I have never seen anything like it. And God forbid a vehicle hits someone you better have high limits on your insurance policy (even if it is proven that you were not at fault) because an attorney will get involved and at least policy limits will be paid out.

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