What Triathletes Need to Know about Insurance

author : Team BT
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Triathlon is a highly rewarding hobby, but there’s no denying that at times, the discipline and level of physical and psychological commitment it requires can feel like a lot. With the majority of training time being spent cycling, having a bicycle insurance policy that protects you from the unexpected can provide the much-needed peace of mind and allow you to focus on what you do best. There are so many uncontrollable variables that can affect how your training or race experiences turn out, so it’s a good idea to be prepared if something does go wrong. Bicycle insurance is designed to cover the cost of repair or replacement to the bike in case of unforeseen incidents and can help shield from financial losses associated with the risk of the triathlon lifestyle.

Bike Theft

A triathlete’s bike is more than just a bike—it’s perhaps one of their most prized possessions, one with which they’ve shared countless hours outside of their comfort zone, succumbing to levels of suffering most would shy away from. Tri bikes are highly personal because one must achieve a perfect fit or risk subpar performance, or worse, an injury. With bikes and bike parts being in extra high demand, the pickings are slim, making it an extra hot market for criminals. 

Approximately 48% of stolen bikes are recovered, but only about 5% of those are reunited with their owners. Most bike thefts are those of opportunity, meaning that the vast majority of stolen bikes were not secured or protected in any way. It’s imperative that bike owners take necessary precautions to avoid becoming victims of theft. Always secure your bike to a sturdy, immovable object with a durable U-lock and when possible, and an extra thick chain as added protection when leaving it unattended. Whenever a garage, shed, or other secured enclosure is available for storage, use it. When leaving the bike outdoors, opt for areas under camera surveillance and where it’s more likely that someone would notice a thief in action.

Bike theft is commonly associated with urban settings, but bikes across the United States are being taken from suburban and rural areas, too. Statistics show a significant uptick in bicycle theft, with over 1.5 million thefts being reported annually, a nearly 25% increase since 2019. 

If you think having a tri bike makes you less susceptible to theft due to its niche nature, think again. Tri bikes are the most expensive bikes on the market, often equipped with limited and brand-specific parts that fetch a premium on the secondary market. Bike theft is a real concern, especially when participating in an event, and this includes the “before,” “during,” and “after” parts of competition. While most race organizers take transition area security seriously, making it difficult to walk out with someone else’ bike, the frenzy leading up to the event and shortly thereafter creates an optimal window for a thief to grab an unattended bike and quickly get lost in the crowd. 

A specialty insurance policy from Velosurance covers the bike at and away from home for theft and accidental damage. The policy doesn’t depreciate the bike so you’re protected from a financial loss and are able to replace a stolen bike with one of a similar value and get right back to training.

Crashes and accidents

Whether it’s while training or racing, triathletes find themselves riding over all kinds of surfaces and dealing with a variety of uncontrollable circumstances, such as traffic, road debris, and other cyclists. Everyone is afraid of getting into an accident, but those with less experience are more likely to be involved in one because they’re still developing their bike handling skills. The majority of training is done solo and either during early morning or later evening hours, when visibility is reduced and when the risk of getting in an accident is highest. To make matters worse, the aero position of tri bikes introduces a delay when reaching for brakes, which increases the likelihood of crashing and is the reason why they’re not allowed on most group rides. 

There are plenty of preventative measures anyone can take to promote a safe ride. Staying on bike paths, in bike lanes, and avoiding areas that are shared with motor vehicles can help reduce the risk of being hit by a car. Wearing bright, reflective apparel and installing front and rear lights can make you more visible to others, motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. Having solid bike handling skills, such as transitioning from the aero bars to the bull horns, cornering, evasive maneuvers, descending, overtaking, and emergency braking can mean the difference between a close call and a crash.

Thankfully, a standard policy from Velosurance covers bikes for damage due to a crash or accident. The basic bicycle coverage applies even if damage is sustained while the bike is strapped into the car rack or if you accidentally drive over it. If any riding apparel or gear is damaged in a crash, replacement costs are reimbursed up to $500. Coverage of up to $500 per loss  (a maximum of $1,000 for the policy term) for spare parts, such as a racing wheelset, is also included.

Medical Coverage

Crashes sometimes result in injuries that require medical attention. Whether it was your fault, the fault of someone else, or no one’s fault at all, opting for the Medical Payments add-on will cover some of the medical expenses related to the biking accident. Different coverage limits are available and should be determined with consideration of primary medical insurance limits. Velosurance kicks in when a primary says “no” to the bill, acting like an insurance gap filler by footing the bill for copays and deductibles, some of which can run as high as $15,000.

When hit by a car

The scariest thing that can happen to a cyclist is getting hit by a car. Because most triathletes ride alone during hours of reduced visibility, they’re at much higher risk of being hit than those who at least ride in a group. There’s no “undo” button in life that can reverse being hit by a car, but opting for Vehicle Contact Protection can at least offer some peace of mind. This added option can serve as gap coverage for primary health insurance, but also covers other expenses arising from the accident, such as physical therapy and lost wages, up to the selected policy limit.

Liability Insurance

Accidents happen to everyone. If you find yourself in a situation that requires legal protection, an insurance policy from Velosurance can protect you from personal liability, including injury, property damage, or death of an individual, that resulted from a bike accident you were involved in. As our society is becoming increasingly litigious, this coverage is a necessity if you’re riding in close proximity to others. Limits up to $300,000 are available, which matches the underlying coverage requirement of most Umbrella policies.

Racing Coverage

Racing is the most exciting part of triathlon. Even a small local sprint race often feels like a festival, packed with excitement, comradeship, and some cowbell. It’s the day that triathletes test their fitness and the goal is to leave nothing in the tank when crossing the finish line. If you’re lucky, the course will run on smth, well-maintained roads, be well-marked, and manned with volunteers and maybe even police directing traffic. Others may require that you maneuver over cobblestone, tight corners and poorly kept roads. In the heat of a race, the primary focus is on speed and not safety, so mistakes are easy to make. If you crash during a race, the optional racing coverage has your bike covered. 

Racing takes triathletes all over the country, and some around the world. If you ever find yourself at least 50 miles away from home and unable to participate because your bike has been damaged in transit or has become lost, a policy will reimburse bike rental fees of up to $250. Most aren’t lucky enough to find a replacement bike at the last minute, but if they have a policy from Velosurance, they can at least receive reimbursement for the entry fees of up to $500. 

To sweeten the deal, USA Cycling (USAC) and USA Triathlon (USAT) members receive a 10% discount, and since USAT membership is required for participation in most triathlons, it’s a discount nearly all triathletes qualify for. A multi-bike discount that is applied to the second and any additional bike thereafter is also offered.

Damage in Transit

Travel is an integral part of the triathlon lifestyle. Whether traveling to local, out-of-state, or international destination venues, tri bikes spend a significant amount of time in transit. For many triathletes, it takes a drive just to get to a place where they can put their head down and hammer away from traffic, so the bike has to take a ride in the back of a car or truck.

In recent years the airlines have recognized the value of making flying with a bike easier and triathletes are taking advantage of this more than ever. From early season races in tropical destinations to international A-races and training camps, flying with a bike is no longer the logistical nightmare that it was just a few years ago. Unfortunately, when it comes to claims, airlines are notoriously difficult, if not outright impossible, to deal with. 
The harsh reality is that bikes are often damaged during transportation. This can be due to innocent mistakes like driving into a low garage with the bike on the roof rack or carelessness of airport handlers. A bike cartwheeling down the road after coming loose from a bike rack is not a sight anyone wants to see in the rearview mirror. 

Whether it’s being hauled on a car, handled by airport staff, shipped with a courier, domestic or international, a policy from Velosurance covers whatever damage your bike may incur on its travels—even if it turns out to be total loss. The optional Worldwide coverage extends your policy’s coverages to anywhere in the world.

How it compares

The general misconception is that bikes are wholly covered by home insurance providers. While not entirely false, it’s both subjective and circumstantial and often takes a claim to find out the truth. Homeowners and renter’s policies usually offer limited coverage for bikes as personal property, with coverage limits varying by carrier and state. Be aware of the specifics, including coverage amounts and types of losses covered, as policies often don't cover theft away from home and exclude e-bikes, seen as "motorized vehicles." Home policies usually only insure bikes for their current market value, which decreases over time. Riding accidents are almost never covered and racing is outright excluded. Finally, filing a bike claim against a home policy may result in increased rates on renewal for the next few years, effectively making it a losing proposition.

There isn’t a single insurance policy for triathletes that does what a policy from Velosurance does.That’s because Velosurance is a specialty insurance provider, created and run by cyclists who understand the unique needs of cyclists, including those of triathletes. 

The coverage that is offered by a policy from Velosurance is specifically designed to offer protection in the kinds of situations that only a cyclist could find themselves in. It maintains the insured value of the bike without depreciation, meaning if it's stolen, you will receive the purchase amount minus the deductible. The policy can be customized with optional coverages to address specific personal risks and because it’s a standalone policy, a claim will not affect the rates of other policies you may already have. The company was founded and continues to be staffed by cyclists who intimately understand the nuances of the lifestyle and can offer valuable advice.

To learn more, visit Velosurance for a free online quote. It takes roughly 5 minutes and policies are issued the same day. 

* Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated. Insurance carrier, coverage, dividends, and services availability may vary by state. Terms and conditions for rates and coverages vary. Insurance and coverage are subject to availability and qualifications and may not be available in all states. Coverage descriptions listed are intended to be brief and do not replace actual policy language. Nothing herein shall be construed as an offer to sell or a solicitation or offer to purchase any products or services. Markel® is a registered trademark of the Markel Corporation, a Fortune 500 corporation.


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date: March 21, 2023

Team BT