When the thrill of the open road becomes a bumpy ride

Posted by Daniel Scognamiglio on

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BL Claims Solicitors specialise in personal injury, clinical negligence and travel claims, providing our clients with hands-on support, nationally.

We are rated as one of the top firms in the UK and believe in speaking to our clients in jargon-free language and ensuring you're speaking to a highly qualified lawyer right from the outset

We’ve become a nation of cyclists, taking to the saddle each weekend to beat that challenging climb, take part in organised sportives or simply to enjoy the solitude of the open road.

Inspired by cycling superstars such as Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton, thousands of us have become weekend warriors, spending hundreds or even thousands of pounds on bikes, parts and gear as we go.

In fact cyclists are now responsible for their own booming mini-economy, with the insurer Aviva reporting a 75% rise in customers taking out cycle insurance from 2009 to 2015.

British Cycling reports that around 100,000 more adults are riding regularly now than there were in 2012, with an estimated eight per cent of the UK population aged over five taking to two wheels at least three times a week.

For many cyclists, the health benefits and pure exhilaration of the hobby are encouragement to go further and further afield – an ambition that can lead many beyond the city roads, country lanes and cycle paths of the UK to Europe, where the challenges of an Alpine climb or the thrills of recreating a stage of the Tour de France await.

But the road may not always rise up to meet you and the wind might not always be at your back. No matter how confident you are in the saddle, accidents can happen – perhaps through no fault of your own, and sometimes with catastrophic consequences.

Before packing up the bike and making the trip, it is well worth taking the time to familiarise yourself with the rules of the road for your destination – and preparing a “disaster plan” to put into action if things go wrong.

Top of the list should be private travel insurance – simply put, you should not go anywhere without it.

Foreign holidays can be expensive and insurance can be dismissed as an unnecessary expense, and travellers often mistakenly believe that it is not require if travelling in Europe while carrying a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

In fact the EHIC only entitles the bearer to basic medical treatment at a local hospital and will not cover you for anything else – whether that’s lost or stolen property, private medical treatment or repatriation to the UK in the event of serious injury.

Membership of British Cycling does provide some cover, including liability insurance of up to £10million in the event that a claim is made against you when cycling abroad. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is a replacement for full insurance because like the EHIC, it does not cover you for medical bills or repatriation.

It is crucial to make sure that when taking out insurance, your insurer knows the exact nature of the holiday you are planning. Pay careful attention to exceptions and clauses that may affect the eligibility of a claim. If you are going to be sticking to established cycle routes then say so – and if you expect to adventure off road then it is important to make your insurer aware.

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a collision or accident that is not your fault, there are simple steps you can take to help you in the event that you later make a claim.

  1. Gather as much evidence as possible at the scene and immediately afterwards, as this is much easier than trying to track down information afterwards. Take names and numbers of witnesses if you can.
  2. Carry a phone with a camera which can be used to call for help and to take photographs of the scene of an incident, and of any injury caused to you and damage to your bicycle or any vehicles at the scene.
  3. When dealing with local police, make sure you co-operate, remain calm and get the full details of who you are speaking to.
  4. You will be asked to help fill out a European Accident Statement – make sure that you keep a copy of this for your own records. Read it carefully and if you do not agree with or understand its contents, do not sign it as this will be a vital piece of evidence when pursuing a claim.
  5. If you are treated in hospital, ask for a copy of your medical records to keep. And, crucially, seek legal advice at the first available opportunity.

Daniel Scognamiglio, a travel claims expert at BL Claims Solicitors, says: “As with any trip abroad, careful planning for a cycling adventure can give peace of mind that you and your expensive equipment are covered if the worst happens.

“Travelling without the right measures, such as insurance, being in place can just store up problems for later on and can end up costing you thousands in the long run.

“In particular it is important to ensure that your insurance policy gives you the right level of cover taking into account what you will be doing, where you will be going and what could go wrong once you get there.

“If something does go wrong then keeping accurate records and seeking legal advice at the first opportunity can make all the difference to the outcome of a claim.” 

BL Claims Solicitors are here to help

If you would like to talk to someone and discuss a potential claim please call us on 0344 620 6600 anytime between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, or if you would prefer you can email us at info@blclaims.co.uk

About the Author

Daniel leads our travel team. He is a specialist in multi-jurisdictional disputes, travel insurance litigation and tour operator liability and is qualified as a solicitor in England and Attorney at Law (non-practising) New York.

Daniel Scognamiglio
Email Daniel
023 8085 7339

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