If you’re a regular bike commuter, you know the risk of a crash with a car is frighteningly real. Even if you follow every traffic law perfectly, it seems like drivers never check for bikes before turning or getting out. Getting “doored” or being hit by a car isn’t just painful, it’s expensive too. That’s why it’s good to know what kind of insurance will cover you if you’re in a bicycle accident.
Does car insurance cover bicycle accidents?
It depends. Car insurance sometimes covers bicycle accidents. It depends on whose fault the crash was and what kind of insurance the driver and cyclist have. Read on for information about a bike hitting a car. For general information about bicycle insurance, read about how cyclists can protect themselves.
How an insurance company covers bicycle accidents
You’re biking to a friend’s house when a car hits you. The driver, Carl, hurries out to check on you. He apologizes and says he should have known better than to text while driving.
Your forearms are scraped raw, and your collarbone hurts so much you want to scream. Your helmet is cracked, but it did its job. Your head only feels a little rattled.
A still-spinning wheel catches your eye. Your heart sinks. Your beloved bicycle’s frame is twisted beyond repair.
Soon, you’re surrounded by flashing lights as emergency vehicles pull up. Someone must have called 911. EMTs come to check you out. Carl looks mortified, but he’s not injured. Before you get into the ambulance, you and Carl exchange insurance information. He takes photos of his car and your bike to document the collision.
At the emergency room, a medical team checks your vitals and takes X-rays of your collarbone. Sure enough, it’s broken. They patch you up, give you a sling and pain medication for your collarbone, and send you home with instructions to follow up with an orthopedist.
You know you need to rest, but your thoughts are racing. Will you have to take time off work? How will you replace your bike and helmet? Isn’t an ambulance ride really expensive? Will insurance cover any of this?
Getting hit by a car on your bike is always a stressful experience. But you can do a few things to get insurance to cover as much of your accident as possible.
The first is to document everything you can. Those photos the driver took will come in handy, and you need to track your medical records and expenses. The second is to know how insurance companies cover collisions between bikes and cars.
Fault in bicycle accidents: who pays for losses and injuries?
Before you know whether car insurance will cover a bicycle accident, you need to know whose fault the crash was. This isn’t a finger-pointing, blaming-each-other kind of “fault”. Instead, fault matters in a legal sense to your insurers.
In a bike accident, it might be the driver’s fault if:
- They “doored” a cyclist – opened their car door into the bike lane without checking for oncoming bikes
- They backed into a cyclist
- They hit a cyclist while turning
In the story we just told, the crash was the driver Carl’s fault. He was driving distracted.
In other situations, the accident might be the cyclist’s fault. For example:
- They rode into a parked or stopped car
- They ran a red light or ignored a stop sign
If the crash was the driver’s fault, their liability car insurance will pay for the cyclist’s losses and injuries. Losses are damage to objects, like a bicycle, helmet, bike gloves, or other cycling accessories. Injuries are just that – anything the collision does to the cyclist’s body. So, if the driver is at fault, the cyclist can file a claim with their insurance to get reimbursed for medical care and a broken bike/gear. In our example, Carl’s liability insurance would pay for your hospital bills and to replace your bike and broken helmet.
If an accident was the cyclist’s fault, the driver’s insurance will deny the claim. However, other types of insurance might pay for their accident expenses.
Will insurance cover me if I’m hit while riding a bicycle?
If a driver hits you while you’re on your bicycle, insurance will likely cover you. Here are the types of relevant insurance:
- Health insurance. If you’re injured in an accident on your bike, your health insurance will help pay for your medical bills. Every plan is different, so you may have to pay out of pocket for copays, coinsurance, and/or a deductible.
- Liability insurance. The driver’s liability insurance will pay for bike repairs and medical expenses if the crash was their fault. If liability insurance is paying for your medical bills, your health insurance won’t pay double, but they’ll work with the driver’s car insurance company to determine how much each insurance company pays in a process called coordination of benefits. You likely won’t need to get involved in that, other than maybe describing how the accident happened.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and/or medical payments coverage (MedPay). If you have a car insurance policy which includes PIP or MedPay, it can help pay for your medical expenses and lost wages from injuries. PIP and MedPay don’t care whose fault the accident was, either. It doesn’t matter whether you were in a car, on a bike, walking on foot, or using a wheelchair. PIP and MedPay pay for car accident injuries no matter where you were.
- Uninsured/underinsured driver coverage. Some car insurance or non-owned auto insurance plans have uninsured/underinsured driver coverage. This coverage pays for accident expenses if you were in a hit-and-run or if the driver’s liability insurance doesn’t cover everything.
- Renters or homeowners insurance. If your renters or homeowners insurance covers your bike and gear, it could help pay for repairs or replacement after a car accident.
What to do after a car hits your bike
Your top priority after a bicycle accident is to take care of yourself. Bike accident injuries can be serious! The last thing you want to worry about while recovering from an accident is your finances. Luckily, there are many possible ways for insurance to help you in the aftermath of an accident. While recovering, keep track of your injuries, medical expenses, and the damage to your bike and gear. It’s best to file an insurance claim quickly, so ask your family or friends for help if you’re not up to it.
And, if you’re worried about expenses from a future bicycle accident, get in touch with Surround Insurance. We can help you find policies to protect you and your bike, from car insurance and non-owned auto to renters or homeowners insurance.