Jennifer Buchanan explains why employers should encourage their staff to take out cycling insurance.
The number of Londoners cycling to work more than doubled in the 10 years to 2015, according to government statistics. This rise will surely continue as we see more improved cycle lanes and the Mayor of London's determination to encourage the switch from motorised to active and sustainable modes of transport.
For an employer, the benefits of encouraging your staff onto their bikes are clear. People who cycle are generally healthier; a regular adult cyclist typically enjoys a level of fitness equivalent to someone 10 years younger. Also, a study by the charity Cycling UK found that people who cycle to work have a 45% lower risk of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared with commuting by car or public transport. Not only that, cycling to work is shown to make you happier, more likely to arrive on time and take less time off through ill health.
So, it’s clearly a win-win for businesses. Indeed, business-focused HR magazine recently suggested companies should have bikes available in the workplace, which employees can use for errands.
The good news is that cycling in Britain remains relatively safe; between 2012-16, there were around 9.4 million cycle trips for every cyclist death and, overall, the health benefits of cycling outweigh the injury risks by an estimated 20:1 (life years gained due to the benefits of cycling v the life-years lost through injuries – Cycling UK).
But in the same way that companies are expected to protect employees and the public with liability and indemnity insurance in case of an accident at work, it must be sensible to expect them to encourage staff to take out cycle insurance to protect themselves and others, particularly if they ride a bike as part of their job, such as a cycle courier.
The issue of whether or not to make insurance mandatory for cyclists, in the same way it is for car drivers, divides opinion.
Some argue that this would dissuade the casual cyclist from getting in the saddle. At Fieldfisher we know all too well the potential cost implications of a collision involving cyclists. We represent not only cyclists who are seriously injured in road accidents and the families of cyclists killed on the roads but also pedestrians who are injured or killed by cyclists.
The medical costs for getting someone back on their feet are high, and the compensation due to a family where someone has died reflects earnings and the cost of looking after dependants. Without insurance, those costs can fall to the person responsible for that collision and can legally be sought from assets such as a house.
Taking to the roads on a bike with no insurance not only potentially leaves a cyclist liable for the harm they do others, but also means they are unprotected should they be involved in a collision caused by someone else.
British Cycling and others actively encourage members to take out insurance, which covers a cyclist for third-party liability, offers compensation help when a cycling incident isn't your fault, insures your bike for theft and damage and offers travel insurance for cycling holidays.
Rather than seeing it as detrimental, businesses should see encouraging cyclists to take out insurance as essential protection and a positive move to get more people onto their bikes.