Insurance for Long Term Cycle Touring
Whether you decide to take out insurance or not depends on how you
feel about risk and about the impact of misfortune on you loved ones.
If you have no family ties and really don’t give a hoot about your own
health and safety then let’s face it you ain’t going to bother. If
something happens to you whilst you are abroad and you have to be
repatriated it costs tens of thousands of pounds. If God forbid, your
body has to be repatriated and you do not have insurance then you
relatives have to pick up the tab. As for your belongings? Well can you
afford to replace them if they are stolen? Will they actually be
covered even if they are damaged or stolen. A lot of people assume they
are covered, but often it turns out to be the opposite. So the upshot
is, think carefully about what cover if any you actually need, taking
into account your personal situation and feeling towards risk and your
relatives in the event something my go wrong.
We had real problems trying to find suitable insurance. The key problem areas were:
- Period of Cover Generally, single trip policies
are only valid for a maximum of one year. I think we found one that
was valid for 18 months. The alternative to these are the annual
policies that many companies offer. Although these are valid for a year
they only allow you to be out of the country for so many days per year.
Normally about 60 days. What we needed was a policy that could be
renewed annually whilst you are travelling.
- Residency All insurance companies require you
to be resident in the country where the policy is taken out. So in our
case we had to prove residency in the UK. Thus it would be necessary to
take the policy out whilst we could still prove our address. i.e.
before our house sale would be completed. For renewal purposes we would
still need UK address, which we would consider as our normal residency.
We used our son’s address for this purpose.
- Remote Renewal Most policies are annual. At
the end of the period a new policy is taken out. To do so most
companies stipulate that you must be living in the UK. We needed a
policy that could be renewed remotely whilst we were travelling
- Cycling Cover Many companies will not cover
bicycling as an activity and many of those that do only cover it as an
incidental activity for short periods. Getting cover for cycling any
time anywhere was almost impossible.
- Bicycle Cover Most companies will not cover for
damage to or theft of bicycles and even if they do cover them they
impose ridiculous conditions. E.g. it has to be locked up in a locked
building. You can’t exactly do that all the time, especially if you are
- Pre-existing Conditions In some cases you have
to jump through all sorts of hurdles to prove pre- existing conditions
like asthma for example. Some companies won’t cover you at all
especially if you are older.
- Age Restrictions According to most insurance
companies if you are over fifty, you are past it. Cover you as a back
packer or long term traveler? Goodness No! At least that is how it
seems. Many long term travel insurance policies are aimed at gap year
students or career break thirty somethings.
- Cost We could get any amount of cover if we
were prepared to pay megabucks. We could get full private health cover
for example. We have a limited budget so anything much over £500 per
year is a problem.
I looked at many different insurance offerings over a four week period,
studying policies, searching on the net, etc. I expected that the
insurers offered by many of the travel web sites would be ideal, but
inevitably there was something that presented a fundamental block.
Eventually, having almost given up hope of finding a suitable insurer I
came across Campbell Irvine Direct who offered a policy underwritten by
Axa, one of the largest insurance underwriters in the World.
The basic policy looked good. It included all of the elements that we
needed. Cycling wasn’t excluded. Neither was our age or pre-existing
conditions (although a special exclusion applied to this). The most
important thing was that Anthony Kaye, the advisor that I dealt with was
very helpful and went out of his way to tailor the policy to our needs.
He advised that as long as we were UK resident we could set up the
policy and if we were happy to be repatriated to our son’s address then
we could renew the policy remotely.
Their original quotation for the first 12 month policy was £412 per
person, which was more than we wanted to pay. We looked at the cover
offered and determined that we did not need cover for Travel Curtailment
or Delay. Anthony was willing to remove these elements from the policy
and offered a reduction to £350 per person. This was still more than
we wanted to pay. We agonized over whether or not personal belongings
insurance was required. We decided that even if we had this cover, in
many instances we would not be covered, because we would be camping or
in insecure accommodation. Our bikes would often be locked to trees or
similar. We discussed it with Anthony. He told us that holiday makers
think Personal Belongings insurance covers all of their belongings. In
principal this is true but in practice they leave stuff in unlocked
rooms or on sun beds so when it comes to a claim they are disappointed.
They also only get back an amount considering fair wear and tear. In
his opinion he felt that, for our particular situation, it was probably
not worth having and that we should just accept the risk of loss and
cost of replacement. This saved a further amount and the final quote was
£280 each – close to our £500 max.
Our key criteria for insurance are:
- Medical Expenses and Repatriation Being
cyclists, a significant risk is having an accident. Our main worries are
if we get injured or killed through accident or if we become ill
through whatever reason. In this event we need to be treated well by
local medical crew and if necessary repatriated to our home country
alive or dead. We also wanted cover for medical treatment for illness
and emergency dental problems. We also had to ensure that the cover was
not prejudiced by pre-existing conditions like Karen’s asthma.
- Personal Liability -Just as damage to ourselves
through accident is a high risk, the thought that we could cause an
accident where others or their property are damaged is also of concern.
So, we felt it was essential to have personal liability insurance.
- Personal Accident and Legal Costs As well as
cover for the immediate effects of an accident, we also felt that we
should have the option to get compensation for injury and to pursue
claims against third parties. So this was also considered desirable.
- Winter Sports Coverage We do like to ski so we thought it would be useful to also have winter sports coverage in case we wanted to go skiing.
The personal Liability aspect of the cover was not 100% clear, each case
being taken on its merits. So in addition to the Campbell Irvine
insurance we also joined the Cyclists Touring Club (CTC). Membership of
the CTC also provides Third Party Liability worldwide up to £10M with
no restrictions. Membership also gives access to route information and
many other cycling resources that we have found useful.
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