Tips For Navigating Bicycle & E-bike Insurance Claims

June 21, 2024
Alex Broekman
Walden van der Walt

Insurance insider's guide and Q&A for a smoother claim experience

Alex Broekman chats with Walden van der Walt, one of Sundays' experienced claims agents.

Run us through a typical bicycle insurance claims process.

I'd start with the first few minutes after the incident itself. Let’s suppose you just discovered your bicycle has been stolen, or got up from a nasty crash on the bicycle. Naturally, the first question that comes to mind would be: “Now what?”

From a claims perspective, probably the most important aspect would be to gather as much evidence as possible at the scene of the crash - almost like our equivalent of ‘the golden hour.’

Obviously after having a look around, making sure you are okay and notifying the authorities - it is important to reach out to our claims team as soon as possible. This will ultimately help us process your claim as quickly and as diligently as possible. 

Most insurance policies I know of have a time frame on this, put in place specifically for us to be able to assess the damages to the bicycle before anything is repaired, or in the event of a theft, contacting the authorities and reaching out to companies for CCTV footage. So I'd say start with submitting the claims form as soon as possible and then keep an eye out for a call & email from our agent, requesting the information you just gathered, to get your claim review started. 

In terms of the actual claims review process, it’s quite nice to know we are a team of cyclists working to get you back on the bike as soon as possible. We understand the nature of having a crash, or stress of getting your bike nicked - and are ultimately there to help! The great thing is, we usually also facilitate the inspection and repair process through a network of partners that we've got set up all across the UK - knowing our clients are in trusted hands.

What are the most common challenges that keep someone from having a successful claim?

We unfortunately see a lot of cases where commuters forget to correctly lock their bicycles - which puts us in the difficult position where we may not always be able to accept such a claim. Oftentimes, also cases where a bicycle was simply locked to a wheel, or a wheel stolen off the bicycle simply by unclipping it from the frame. It’s not the best cases to deal with, but I’d say the key is to be proactive and inform cyclists of these risks before it happens.

Best advice I would give is to make sure your bicycle is securely locked to something immovable, and ideally not in the deep dark corner of an alleyway. Also make sure you have a lock correctly rated by Sold Secure - this is particularly important.

So as long as the client is able to get that evidence to the claims team, it will get processed super quickly?

Look, it's definitely a case of mutual cooperation with the client to get their claim sorted quickly. But it goes both ways though.We always take pride in quick turnaround on our work - this is the name of the game in the claims industry. Working with cyclists during a claim means our top priority is to get you back on the bike as soon as possible. We actually run these little internal competitions where our team sees who can conduct the most diligent assessment within the quickest time - I think our record is around 30 minutes from claim received to providing the client’s outcome!

One great process we put in place, quite unique to the insurance business, is to facilitate the repair or replacement process on behalf of our claimants. At the end of the day, having that trusted retail partner we can turn to for replacement, keeps our work simple and our clients in trusted hands while they await their bicycle.

You're a keen cyclist yourself, does that translate to riding only or do you like to keep up to date with bike tech and stay knowledgeable? Do you think it makes a difference as a claims expert — to be a cyclist also?

Most definitely! I think we've got a duty to stay up to date with the latest in bike tech and the industry - especially if we want to call ourselves a specialist cycling insurer. 

Being a cyclist and working amongst cyclists, it gives us that competitive edge we can then use to associate with our clients. We always have the greatest chats with our clients about their bicycles.  

Most of our team are from a background in the bike industry. It really places us in a good spot where we know what to expect, what may have gone wrong and how we can get them back on the bike. If you just damaged your bicycle or your bicycle has just been stolen, speaking to somebody on the other side of the line that is not only familiar with bicycles,  but excited to speak about bicycles with you - must be so nice from a customer's point of view. I’ll challenge you to go find me a home insurance agent passionate about interior decorating!

And then building on that, do you ever just start speaking about bicycles to the customer  and not get any work done?

Oh all the time! Maybe even too often. But at the end of the day it benefits the process. If we have a client that gets an opportunity to replace their bicycle, but they are looking for an upgrade or maybe specific features on a bicycle, we know which bike shops specialise in commuters or race bikes and we can essentially provide them with the know-how to make the right decision with their next bicycle.

I know you've touched on most of this in the first question, but everyone wants a smooth quick claims process. What are the key factors to get it over the line quickly?

Yes, I think to summarise,  the most important steps are what we spoke about the first question; gathering as much evidence as possible, as quickly as possible. Another key point is to provide us with all the evidence as quickly as possible. What I said earlier about the mutual relationship - the quicker the client gets back to us with the necessary information the quicker we are able to review the claim and let them know.

And then also to make sure your policy details like email address and phone number are up-to-date and you have proof of ownership on hand. That's something less thought about, but often poses difficulties when it's an old email address on the customer's policy because they've had insurance for many years, without updating these details or letting us know they changed bikes.

I'm sure you've come across some interesting or complex claims? Any worth sharing? Without giving out customer info of course. 

I think we should keep it light and steer clear from fraudulent claim attempts on this one… While interesting, unfortunately this is something that happens in the insurance industry.

Some interesting carbon damage claims always come to mind. It still astonishes me how repairable carbon actually is. We’ve had cases where we worked with very reputable carbon specialists on everything ranging from full-sus enduro bikes, to sub 7kg aero bikes.

Carbon repair process — image credit: Carbon Cycle Solutions

As for incidents, we've had a few cases of note. I've had this particular one where a gentleman was riding along a country road and he got struck by muddy sheep that bolted out from behind a hedge.

Now all jokes aside, I had to phone the client and make sure he is okay. A few minutes into the call, asking him how exactly this happened - he suspects the sheep was full of mud because it was completely camouflaged against the backdrop. Next thing he knew the sheep bolted out into the road and he went OTB! And I had to keep a straight face during the whole call!

That's a quintessential British claims story for sure.

Oh yes. Then some other ones where the husband accidentally drove into a bridge with his wife's bicycle on the roof, subsequently writing off a very expensive bicycle and a substantial amount of damage to the vehicle. That was quite an interesting claim to navigate the dynamics between speaking with a nervous husband and a fuming wife asking me for an explanation. 

You're definitely in the dog box after doing that. Okay, And lastly. What is your claims ‘mantra’?

I think our claims mantra is largely grounded in our passion for cycling and as a team of cyclists, it's ultimately to help our clients get back on the bike as soon as possible. We understand the need to get back on your bicycle, whether it is just to commute to work or wanting your racing bike back as a matter of staying sane. So for us we definitely push ourselves with not only turnaround time to resolve claims as quickly as possible, but also to make the process as informative and smooth as possible.

Working in claims though, we are unfortunately on the side of the business where we hope not to see return customers - purely due to the nature of having a big crash and needing to claim. It’s never fun. So if we are dealing with customers, we'd like to break that stigma about dealing with an insurance company that you're going to go through a lot of paperwork and hassle to prove to us that you have a valid claim.

That's very, very wholesome.

And if you have to sum that up in one sentence?

If we need to coin a nice phrase, I'd say - “cyclists looking after cyclists”

For more information or to make a claim, chat to one of our friendly, experienced claims agents and we'll be happy to get you back on your bike in no time.

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