Fall Weather Makes Bike Riding More Appealing; But Fatalities Also Rise

I.I.I. Offers Bike Safety Tips and Insurance Advice

 

INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE
New York Press Office: (212) 346-5500; media@iii.org
Washington Press Office: (202) 833-1580

NEW YORK, September 30, 2009 —Cooler temperatures and the natural beauty of fall, can make it an appealing time to hop on your bicycle and go for a ride. Unfortunately shorter days and increased road travel due to the start of the school year can result in more dangerous conditions for bike riders, according to the Insurance Information Institute. 

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that September and October traditionally have the greatest number of bike related fatalities.
 
“Bike riding is not only good for the environment, it is a healthy way to relax, enjoy the fall foliage and get some exercise,” pointed out Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president, Public Affairs and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. “Learning how to be a responsible cyclist, however, can reduce injuries and save lives.”
 
Before taking your bike out for a spin, make sure it is safe to ride by checking that all parts are secure and working properly. This includes checking brakes and making sure that the tires are inflated properly. If you have not ridden it for a while, bring your bike to a local bike shop for a tune-up. Other tips for being a responsible bike rider include:
 
  1. Protect your head by always wearing a properly fitted bike helmet.
  2. Adjust the bike so that it fits properly.
  3. Make sure that you can be seen by drivers and other cyclists by wearing a bright color and using reflective tape, markings or flashing lights.
  4. Ride responsibly by controlling your speed and staying alert.
  5. Be on the look out for potholes, broken glass or other road hazards.
 
Bicycling has increased in popularity. In the United States between 1992 and 2006, bicycle sales increased roughly 20 percent, from 15.3 million to 18.2 million per year, the U.S. Department of Justice noted in its most recent report.
“Owning a bicycle is an investment. They can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars for a garden variety bike to custom-made options that cost thousands of dollars,” said Salvatore. “To financially protect your investment, have adequate insurance coverage and always make sure that your bike is locked up properly.”
 
Bicycles are covered under the personal property section of standard homeowners and renters insurance. This coverage will reimburse you, minus your deductible, if your bike is stolen or damaged in a fire, hurricane or other disaster listed in your policy.
 
There are two types of coverage for personal property:
  • Actual Cash Value
    Actual cash value reimburses you for what the bicycle is actually worth given its age. A 10-year-old bicycle, for example, would be valued at the cost of a comparable bicycle minus 10 years depreciation. 
  • Replacement Cost Coverage
    Replacement cost coverage reimburses you for what it would cost to replace your 10-year old bicycle with one of like kind and quality at current cost. Replacement cost coverage costs about 10 percent more than actual cash value, but it is a good investment.
 
Homeowners and renters insurance policies also provide liability protection for harm you may cause to someone else or their property. If you injure someone in a bicycle accident and he or she decides to sue, you will be covered up to the limits of your policy. Your homeowners or renters insurance also includes no-fault medical coverage in the event you injure someone. This coverage usually ranges from $1,000 to $5,000.
 
To make filing a claim easier, the I.I.I. suggests the following:
  • Save your receipts
    When you buy your bicycle you will probably purchase expensive equipment to go with it. Be sure to save your receipts. The cost of a helmet, patch kits, pumps, extra inner tubes and other essentials can add up quickly. If your bike or equipment is damaged or stolen, having a receipt for it can help speed the claims process. 
  • Add your bicycle to your home inventory
    Everyone should have an up-to-date home inventory of their personal possessions. This can help you purchase the correct amount of insurance and make the claims filing process easier if there is a loss. The I.I.I. provides free, online software at Know Your Stuff in order to help you easily create an inventory. As well as listing all your possessions (and their serial numbers), the software allows you to add digital photographs and save scanned receipts. 
To protect your bike from being stolen follow these simple rules:
  1. Always lock-up your bike—even if it is in your garage, an apartment stairwell, or a college dormitory.
  2. Lock your bike to a fixed, immovable object like a parking meter or permanent bike rack. Be careful not it to lock to items that can be easily cut, broken or removed. Make sure that your bike cannot be lifted over the top of the object to which it is locked.
  3. Lock-up your bike in a visible and well-lit area.
  4. Consider using a U-lock and position your bike frame and wheels so that you take up as much of the open space within the U-portion of the lock as possible. The tighter the lock-up, the harder it is for a thief to use tools to attack your lock. Always position a U-lock so that the keyway is facing down towards the ground. However, do not position the lock too close to the ground as this makes it easier for a thief to break it.
  5. Don’t lock-up your bike in the same location all the time. A thief may notice the pattern and target your bike.
  6. Consider registering your bike with the National Bike Registry.
  7. Take a picture of your bike for your files; keep a copy of the receipt; and record the serial number in your inventory, or somewhere you can easily access it.

For a related Video News Release, go to Bicycle Safety. Reporters who would like a DVC Pro or Beta hard copy contact: Susan Stolov at 202-638-3400 or email washindpro@aol.com.  

 
To learn more about bicycle safety, visit the National Highway Traffic Administration Web site.
 

The I.I.I. is a nonprofit, communications organization supported by the insurance industry.

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