Sales of electric bikes and e-scooters more than tripled during the summer months of 2020, according to retailer Halfords, as commuters shied away from using public transport on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.
And even as life begins to return to ‘normal’, the popularity of electric bikes (or e-bikes) is expected to continue.
What are electric bikes?
Electric bikes might look like standard push bikes, but they require less effort to pedal because they come with a battery and a motor.
As a result, they can carry more luggage and help you tackle steep hills and long journeys without breaking (much of) a sweat.
If you’re aged 14 or over, you are permitted to ride an electric bike providing it meets certain requirements. You do not need a licence and there’s no need to register your bike or pay vehicle tax.
There’s also no legal requirement for you buy insurance for your electric bike. However, if you want to protect your bike against theft and damage, it’s well worth paying for a policy.
Related: How to insure your push bike
What are the rules around electric bikes?
The electric bikes that we’re talking about are officially known as ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ (EAPCs).
To be classed as an EAPC, your bike must have pedals that can be used to propel it, and its electric motor must:
- have a maximum power output of 250 watts
- cap assistance at maximum speeds of 15.5mph
The bike must also show either the power output or the manufacturer of the motor AND either the battery’s voltage or the maximum speed of the bike.
If your bike does not meet these requirements, it will be classed as a motorcycle or moped and will need to be registered, taxed and insured. They also require a driving licence to ride one and you must wear a crash helmet.
An EAPC can have two-wheels or more (such as a tricycle) and can be taken on roads, cycle paths or anywhere else pedal bikes are allowed.
Why should I buy electric bike insurance?
Electric bikes can cost a lot more than standard bikes – prices can be anywhere between £600 and £5,000. This means that if yours is stolen or damaged by vandals, forking out for repairs or a replacement can be expensive.
Having electric bike insurance can give you peace of mind that you won’t end up footing the bill if something goes wrong.
What does electric bike insurance cover?
E-bike insurance policies can vary in terms of what is offered as standard. But most will cover you for the following:
- theft: in the event your bike is stolen at home or when you’re out and about.
- personal accident: in the event you’re seriously injured in an accident.
- accidental or malicious damage: covering the cost of replacing or repairing your bike if it is damaged or vandalised.
Replacements for new bikes are usually on a new-for-old basis so if your e-bike is damaged or stolen, it will be replaced with a new equivalent model. Replacements for second-hand bikes are likely to be based on their market value.
Many policies also offer a range of extras you can bolt on to your policy. Some will be included as standard and some you’ll need to pay for, depending on the insurer. These include:
- third party liability cover: providing cover for the cost of any claims made against you if you injure someone or damage their property while on your bike.
- accessory cover: covering accessories that are not part of the bike, such as your helmet, clothing, GPS and lights.
- breakdown cover: roadside assistance if your e-bike breaks down or suffers a puncture you can’t repair.
- cover abroad: providing cover if you take your bike overseas.
- amateur races and competitions: covering the cost of race fees and travel if you’re injured and can’t make a race.
- replacement cycle hire: if your bike is damaged beyond repair or stolen and you need a temporary replacement fast.
- cover for all your bikes: many e-bike owners have other bikes, or have family members who also cycle. some policies allow you to insure several bikes on one policy.
A survey by specialist bike insurer Bikmo found that the most likely trigger for a claim by an e-bike owner is accidental damage, with theft ranking the fourth most common cause of claims on e-bike policies.
Are there any exclusions?
As with any type of insurance policy, there are certain situations in which you will not be covered. These could include:
- cosmetic damage caused by general wear and tear
- theft of your bike where you did not secure it properly
- theft or damage to removable parts or accessories unless the bike is stolen or damaged at the same time
- damage to tyres or inner tubes unless the bike suffers accidental or malicious damage at the same time
- incidents that occur while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- any claims where you cannot prove you own the bike.
Can I get cover under my home insurance?
Most insurance policies include what’s known as a ‘single item limit’. This is the maximum amount an insurer will pay out for any one item and it tends to be around £1,500 to £2,000. Any item worth more than this must be listed separately to be covered.
Even if your insurer agrees to cover your e-bike, you’ll usually be required to lock it away in a garage or shed or keep it in your home. Your e-bike won’t usually be covered away from home.
Bear in mind too that if you make a claim on your home insurance, you’ll need to pay an excess – often around £50 to £100. You’ll also lose any no claims discount you have, and your premiums are likely to rise at renewal.
For these reasons, taking out a specialist e-bike insurance policy is likely to be the better choice – though it’s always best to compare your options to be sure.
E-bike top safety tips
- Keep your electric bike in a locked garage or shed and lock it up securely whenever you’re leaving it outside. As well as reducing the risk of theft, this could be a requirement of your insurance policy
- Before taking your e-bike out for a ride, check the tyre pressure and make sure the chain is lightly oiled
- Always keep your e-bike’s battery well charged
- Wear a helmet and suitable clothing and shoes when out riding
- If it’s your first time on your electric bike, test it out on cycle paths and quiet roads before tackling busier areas
- Stick to the rules of the road and keep an eye out for potential problems ahead of you, as well as behind you
- Remember that you’ll need to brake earlier for junctions than with a standard bike as you could be travelling a lot faster.