A leading insurer says that it has seen a big increase in thefts of bicycles since the UK entered lockdown, with claims up by 46 per cent. The news coincides with online enquiries for cycle insurance also seeing a spike in recent weeks, and a specialist bike insurer securing funding to continue its growth.
Admiral says that while theft in general has fallen since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced restrictions on movement, more than one in three theft claims lodged with it between 23 March and 10 May related to theft of a bicycle, accounting for 37 per cent of claims compared to 12 per cent a year earlier.
Among the reasons the insurer believes are behind the spike in claims is the fact that with many key workers using bikes to get to work instead of public transport, they represent an easy target for thieves, and with more people staying indoors are a less risky form of crime than housebreaking.
“One of the effects of the lockdown has been so many more people buying bikes for exercise or just to get around,” said David Fowkes, the company’s head of household underwriting.
“Several cycle retailers have reported that they’ve sold out of many models, and while this is good news for the nation’s fitness, our data suggests it’s also resulted in an increase in bicycle theft.
“We’ve seen a 46 per cent increase in the number of bicycle theft claims over the last seven weeks compared with the same period in 2019. That’s incredible when you consider that overall theft claims have fallen during the lockdown as people have stayed at home, deterring burglars.
“Unfortunately, this probably means that thieves are looking for easier targets and the rise of budding cycling enthusiasts around the country might be the opportunity they’re looking for.
“Our data shows just how more common bike theft has been during the lockdown; in the last seven weeks, 37 per cent of the theft claims we’ve received were for stolen pedal bikes, compared with just 12 per cent last year.
“We’re warning all cyclists, whether they’ve been cycling for years or have just bought their first bike, to be vigilant, keep an eye out for thieves and step up their bike security. With people being encouraged to avoid public transport where they can as lockdown restrictions ease, we could see a second surge in bike purchases, and consequently, bike thefts.”
He also urged people to check their contents insurance policies to ensure that their bike is included, explaining that cover us automatic under Admiral’s policies so long as the value is below £350, but any bike exceeding that would need to be specifically added to the policy.
Meanwhile, specialist cyclist insurance provider, Cycleplan, says that it has seen growth of 63 per cent in online enquiries for cycling cover since the start of lockdown, and that searches for ‘cycling insurance’ have risen by 51 per cent compared to 2019.
The insurer says that a survey it recently commissioned found that 8 in 10 people had switched from cars and public transport to cycling or walking for essential short journeys since late March.
It also says that concerns regarding being injured while cycling as well as potential theft of or damage to the bike were also factors behind growth of interest in cover.
The company’s founder and managing director, John Woosey, said: “The benefits of cycling for our health (and that of the environment) are numerous.
“However, millions of people across the UK are now being “actively encouraged” to cycle more. This comes with an element of risk - especially amongst those who may not have cycled regularly, or on busy roads, ever before.
“It’s therefore encouraging to see such an uplift in the amount of people searching for cycling insurance. Specialist policies not only offer cover against issues like injury, damage, loss and theft, but also help to provide much-needed financial peace of mind during this time.”
Another specialist provider of cycling insurance, Bikmo, meanwhile, has secured £1.8 million in Series A funding from the Development Bank of Wales and the insurance group Hiscox, as well as existing and new angel investors.
The company, which has offices in Chester and Innsbruck, says that the cash will assist it as it grows globally, including in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Germany and Austria.
Its CEO, David George, said: “We are here to support people’s active lifestyles, and we want riders to know that we can cover them, plus their bike and equipment, whether on road or trail.
“This investment will enable us to grow and support the recreational riders as we always have, plus the new riders we can all see rediscovering the freedom and utility of riding a bike in the fresh air.
“We are all riders at Bikmo so we understand that cyclists need to know that they are protected if something happens, and we see that the vast majority of home insurance policies aren’t adequate,” he added.
“Cycling is more important than ever for our physical and mental health, and as a practical mode of transport for us all to remain safe and socially distanced.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.