Here’s our guide to choosing the right insurance policy for your French cycling holiday – for you and your bike. By Lynette Eyb.
Good cycle insurance policies are hard to find, especially for cyclists undertaking extended trips. Leave plenty of time to find the best policy that covers you AND your bike. Depending on your trip, it may be necessary to insure yourself and your bike and accessories separately.
Make sure you ask plenty of questions of insurance companies and read the fine print to make sure you understand the policy’s conditions, and what is and isn’t included. It’s also important to know what caveats the insurance company has put in place to avoid having to pay out in the event of a claim: using a lock not on the insurer’s approved list; not having evidence of ownership of your bike and your lock (eg a sales receipt, photographs, etc); not locking the bike to a fixed object; or not using an 'official' cycle rack at a train station can all render a policy useless.
It is also a good idea to photograph your bike and accessories prior to departure. If you opt not to wear a helmet, check that the personal liability component of any policy doesn’t require that you wear one.
Insurance for cycling in France
Here are some cycle insurance companies that may offer suitable insurance for your trip to France.
We're listing them here as general guidance only – every policy and every trip is different, so you should make sure you research the right one for you and ALWAYS read the fine print.
World Nomads has travel insurance cover for residents worldwide and is recommended by Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, among others. Its travel insurance policies last from one week to 18 months and, for a premium. For some (but not all) countries of residence, you can add bikes as 'high value items as you progress through the quote stages. This add-on appears to differ from country-to-country, depending on your residency, so double check that it is possible where you live. The medical aspect of the policy covers cycle touring and mountain biking (see the activities section), but again you need to play around with the search functions to see if you're covered in your country.
For UK residents:
The bike and accessory retailer Wiggle offers global bike and travel insurance to UK-based cyclists. Cover include theft, accidental damage, public liability, replacement bike hire, medical cover, legal advice, taxi reimbursement, and the option to extend cover for sportives and triathlons.
Yellow Jersey Insurance, as the name suggests, offers insurance cover for cyclists. They have general insurance cover for theft as well as a dedicated travel policy for cyclists and triathletes. THey offer worldwide cover as standard, and also cover trip cancellation, as well as cover if your bike is damaged while being shipped to the start of your ride. There are discounts for couples, families and groups.
There is ETA, the carbon-neutral insurance company, which as a policy that covers bikes and (fixed) accessories worth up to £5000. It covers worldwide theft and damage and offers new-for-old replacement. Third party insurance up to £1000 and personal accident cover for up to £20,000 are included, as is a 'cycle rescue service' and a free legal helpline.
CyclePlan offers European and worldwide cover, including bike hire and break down assistance. It covers theft and accidents, and covers both holiday and commuter cycling. They also offer a best-price guarantee on similar policies elsewhere.
Bicy is specialist cycling insurance that offers 60 days of international cover in addition to regular theft and accident cover in the UK.
Pedalsure offers options that cover just you, just your bike, or you and your bike. You can pay a premium to cover 60 days of travel in France or elsewhere.
Another option for UK residents is Cycleguard, which has a useful frequently asked questions section on its website. Its basic cover is only for cycling in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but there’s an add-on that covers EU countries for 30 days per trip (maximum of 90 days per year), and anywhere in the world up to 45 days in any policy year. The policy’s ‘rescue cover’ does not extend to non-UK trips. Cycleguard also has insurance for camera equipment and laptops.
E&L has a policy (for UK residents only) that includes the loss or theft of cycle accessories (eg panniers), but double check they are listed on the policy when you sign up and that you’ve paid any necessary additional premium. The policy is limited to 45 days per trip for the monthly policy, and 31 days per trip for annual policies up to a maximum of 180 days a year. E&L also offers insurance for camping and photographic equipment.
The UK-based Cyclists Touring Club endorses a Cyclecover insurance policy that includes worldwide cover for up to 90 days a year for one or more bikes worth up to a total of £12,500. Cover includes theft as well as accidental damage. There are options also for public liability cover, as well as cover for family groups and competition cyclists.
CycleSure includes a family option, plus the usual public liability, theft etc.
The rest of the world (sort of):
Ireland: The CycleSure policy offers a discount for Cycling Ireland members. Family cover available, plus options for road riding, MTB, triathlons etc.
South Africa: There is CycleSure in South Africa that a cyclist recommende to us (it is a different company to the one mentioned above for the UK and Ireland.
Australia: The CyclingTips website has an informative article for people living Down Under, including some useful discussion and recommendations in the comments are underneath. VeloSure has been used by our readers in the past.
USA: The Adventure Cycling Association in United States endorses MH Ross.
I'd be happy to include other recommendations here from readers around the world – just email me at [email protected]
The market is much wider for travel insurance policies that cover you and your health – as opposed to that of you AND your bike – with everyone from regular insurers, banks and supermarket chains offering deals on travel insurance. It’s best to shop around and read all the fine-print to find a policy that suits you and your trip.
For shorter cycling tours and holidays, single-trip policies are usually both adequate and cheap. However multi-trip cover might work out more cost-effective if you’re planning on making return trips to see more of France by bike. Some but not all insurance companies also offer long-trip cover for people on extended cycle tours, though most cover personal health and safety only, and not that of your bike. Note that some travel insurance policies deem mountain biking to be a ‘dangerous activity’ that requires extra cover.
Firstly check your household insurance policy and whether it includes any travel-related insurance options. Your bank, credit card provider or post office may also offer suitable cover.
Again, the following are intended as guidance and starting points only, not endorsements of policies that may or may not suit your circumstances.
Yellow Jersey Insurance has cover for cyclists and triathletes travelling abroad from the UK. They cover longer trips as well as shorter trips for sportives etc. They also cover damage to your bike if you get it shipped ahead.
Worldwide Insure has policies covering residents of the UK and other EU countries, as well as the USA. It also has a policy for ‘global citizens’ who are based outside (or not travelling in) their country of residence.
Reducing the risk of bike theft
Prevention is, of course, your best defence against losing your bike while you are on the road. In France there is a lot of respect for cyclists and bike theft is much less common than in many other countries. However, a decent lock (or two) and ensuring that you leave your bike in the safest possible place are the two most senisble means of protection.
In a city like Paris, I'm always nervous about leaving my bike chained up outside (I've often chosen to leave it at my hotel while I'm sightseeing and use a public hire bike instead). However, while cycle touring in the countryside or away from major tourist sites I've never had an problems with theft and am usually always fine leaving it chained up outside restaurants. I ALWAYS stay overnight at bike-friendly places where I know there is safe parking (we have vetted every hotel, B&B and gite on this list).