Where insurance fits into bicycle accidents

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on July 15th, 2019

With an increasing number of cyclists sharing the road with motorists these days, it’s useful to know how insurance works in the event of an accident.

Cyclists, unlike motor vehicle drivers, aren’t required to have insurance but they must follow the same rules of the road. Both drivers and cyclists are covered under the province’s ‘No fault’ insurance scheme when there is collision, which means regardless of who’s at fault, injuries are covered by one’s own insurance company.

Liability for bicycle accidents is typically covered under a home insurance policy but motorized scooters and other types of vehicles may not be, Ari Krajden, a partner with Toronto law firm Kawaguchi Krajden LLP told Canadian Underwriter in an interview recently.

Cyclists who are unsure of their coverage should be asking their insurance broker or agent, said Krajden. “They can differ from insurer to insurer. It’s important to read your policy,” he said.

If you own a very expensive bike, it may be a good idea to talk to your broker about having a special rider put on your home insurance. Some speciality cyclist insurance plans do exist, but they aren’t common. One such organization is the Ontario Cycling Association.

Let’s consider the following scenarios:

What if a cyclist collides with a pedestrian?If a cyclist is sued, and the allegation is that they are negligent and caused a personal injury, the cyclist should turn to their home insurance policy or a renter’s policy first.

If a plaintiff suing a cyclist alleges the cyclist is at fault in an accident, the plaintiff must prove the cyclist owes a duty of care. Whether a duty of care exists depends on the facts in that situation, said Krajden. In addition, the plaintiff would also have to prove the cyclist somehow failed to meet the standard of care required by civil law.

What happens in a cyclist – motor vehicle accident?All cyclists in Ontario involved in car accidents have access to accident insurance benefits, even if the accident was their fault. It’s also worth noting a car doesn’t even have to be moving for you to have a collision. For example, if you are riding your bike and a car door opens into you path and you are injured you can proceed with a claim against that driver through their insurer.

It is always wise to call police when a collision occurs, even if the injuries appear to only be scrapes and bruises. A cyclist may not realize the extent of the injuries until after the shock wears off.

What if the driver leaves the scene? If the driver is uninsured, or if they leave the scene and the cyclist is injured, it won’t be possible to get the driver’s insurance information. If you have no insurance coverage whatsoever and don’t know who hit you, you can still seek compensation from the Ontario Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund, but it only covers damage to vehicles up to $10,000. OMVACF’s cap on injury claims is $200,000.

What if a cyclist gets into an accident on private property? If no vehicles, pedestrians or other bikes are involved, this is where the Occupiers' Liability Act could come into play. In this scenario, if the cyclist wants to sue a property owner or manager, alleging that dangerous conditions on the property caused the accident, the cyclist would have to prove the property occupier failed to meet the legal standard of care, Krajden said.

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