AAA extends roadside assistance to members on bikes + A look at new bike insurance options

If you are a AAA member in Washington, your roadside assistance program now extends to your bicycling trips.

Just like when you need a tow, members experiencing a bad mechanical problem out on the road can call AAA to get someone to swing by and transport them and their bikes to a safe spot (distance they will take you depends on your member level).

From AAA Washington:

On July 1, AAA Washington will begin providing its more than one million members in Washington and northern Idaho emergency bicycle service. AAA members now have membership benefits that cover them on their bicycle in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

AAA Washington’s new bicycle service works exactly like its emergency road service for vehicles. A member with a disabled bicycle due to mechanical failure calls the AAA hotline (800-AAA-HELP) and AAA will dispatch service. The member and their bicycle will be transported to a safe location within the distance their membership level allows: Classic – 5 miles, Plus – 100 miles, or Premier – 200 miles.

Bicycle Insurance

2012 is the year that comprehensive bicycle insurance finally arrives. Two companies (that we know of) have started offering coverage to people who want coverage comparable to comprehensive car insurance, but for biking.

California-based Spoke Insurance offers all kinds of coverage and, starting soon, Portland-based Better Word Club will offer similar plans.

Bike Portland has more on the significance of these plans:

Options for comprehensive bike insurance that is similar to auto insurance has long been lacking for folks who primarily ride and for the increasing number of Americans that don’t own a car at all. (Learn more about this issue in our post, A guide to bicycle insurance options from January 2010).

The optional theft and damage protection for your bike would be based on your bike’s value. Annual premiums, [Better World Club Marketing Director Lauri] Fish says, will likely be about $40 for bikes valued up to $1,500 and would go up incrementally each $1,000 in value. The new insurance policy will also come with $1 million in liability coverage if you are involved in a collision with someone else while bicycling and it’s proven to be your fault.

This is an exciting development for folks who use a bicycle as their primary vehicle. Since comprehensive bicycle insurance hasn’t existed (until now), people have had to rely on either their homeowner’s insurance policy (which might just cover property damage), their own auto insurance policy (if they owned a car), or the policy of the person driving the motor vehicle (if indeed they even had coverage or had enough coverage). But all of those options come with legal grey areas and gaps in coverage.

So, my question to you all is, would you buy bicycle insurance?

About Tom Fucoloro

Founder and Editor of Seattle Bike Blog.
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28 Responses to AAA extends roadside assistance to members on bikes + A look at new bike insurance options

  1. Jeff Dubrule says:

    For $40/year? Hellz yeah, especially if I didn’t have car insurance (which, admittedly, I do), but still, $40/yr to know that my bike gets replaced if it gets stolen, or crashed, or looted, or whatever.

  2. Doug says:

    Yes, absolutely.

  3. Elle says:

    Better World Club (BWC) is the environmentally-friendly version of AAA, and already has established bicycle roadside assistance and insurance options. Please keep in mind that AAA (aka, the American Automobile Association) is an advocate for automobiles and has historically fought against mass transit, non-auto transportation infrastructure, air pollution reduction, and anything else that might interfere with the automobile industry, whereas Better World Club does the opposite. I had a BWC membership for 6 years (back when I had a car) and used their auto roadside assistance on several occasions, and was totally happy with their services. I highly recommend them, especially over AAA!

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  5. Westlake says:

    Compare to BCAA (British Columbia AAA) Bike Assit program which has been around for just about 2 years.

  6. meanie says:

    AAA is one of the largest pro car, anti transit lobbying groups ever. Supporting them for throwing you a bone is a horrible short sided idea.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I didn’t intend this to come off as “support” for AAA. But many ppl are already members, and it’s good to know that they will also pick you up on your bike.

      I don’t have any personal experience with the Better World Club, but they sound cool.

    • wave says:

      Hear Hear. We dropped AAA for Better World Club years ago.

  7. Drew says:

    I already have AAA for my car and camper and have always been worried about what would happen if I got into trouble with my bike on one of my camping trips. Unlike a lot of auto clubs (and I am not including BWC in this statement because I don’t know about them), AAA has a decent track record of actually being able to dispatch assistance to remote areas.

    So this is really good news to me. Thanks for posting it.

  8. Walt says:

    Next step will be mandatory insurance.. Wait and see..

  9. Walt says:

    Wait and see, soon insurance will be mandatory..

  10. J says:

    This is a good move. This ‘mainstream’ support to bicyclists via AAA will only help alternate or niche services find new members or customers. On a political level – a fair amount of people that work in the government are likely AAA members. Seeing bicycle support in their member mail is a good thing.

    Insurance? 40$ for a year? Sounds great to me. I have it on my motorcycle (not mandatory btw) and my car (mandatory) and would definitely insure my bicycle. I spend the most time on the bike – and in the worst of downtown traffic at that.

  11. Andres says:

    For my $400 bike, I wouldn’t bother with insurance. Now that I have a cargo bike? Definitely!

  12. durgo says:

    Fyi, Insurance is optional for motorcycles in washington state.

  13. Janine says:

    This is a great development. I would personally not purchase because my homeowner’s insurance would cover my bike. On a FYI note– I no longer own a car so was without insurance for a few years, then became worried about my liability after reading an article by a bike lawyer who had been hit by a non-insured driver. Also, if you go without car insurance and then sign up again, you pay super high premiums. I searched for “non-owner’s” car insurance and now pay about $400/year, which covers me for any incident on my bike with a non-insured as well covers me when I rent a car.

    • Mae says:

      Don’t assume your home insurance covers your bike. I once made the idiot mistake of the decade and with my bike on the roof rack of my (insured) car I forgot it was there and drove into the (insured) car port of my (insured) house. It was not covered by my insurance. Luckily my bike is steel. Arguably the cost of fixing the frame may be less than the increase in my rates. Whether it’s bike theft or damage ask your agent if you need a rider on your insurance for the bike/s.

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  15. Mark B says:

    “Annual premiums, [Better World Club Marketing Director Lauri] Fish says, will likely be about $40 for bikes valued up to $1,500 and would go up incrementally each $1,000 in value. The new insurance policy will also come with $1 million in liability coverage if you are involved in a collision with someone else while bicycling and it’s proven to be your fault.”

    How do you pay out 1 Million while charging $40.00 a year? Thats only 25,000 years.

    • Daniel says:

      The probability of a cyclist doing $1 million in damage is small. I would guess that the probability of you causing a $1 million accident this year is less than 1 in 25,000. Therefore, the insurance company can charge $40 per year per cyclist, and make a profit.

  16. jeff chef says:

    note that BWC uses the *same* network of nationwide tow trucks AAA uses, so you aren’t out of luck in remote areas in any different way than you would be using AAA – BWC may not own their own trucks (in many cases AAA doesn’t either) but can certainly use a dispatch to call them just like AAA can – we switched to BWC many years ago and have connected relatives with them. Also, BWC is a PNW company, based in Portland, OR – so helping a local, green company is always a good thing….


    • Mae says:

      We’ve been happy Better World customers for years. Great service, discounts and their newsletter is very funny.

  17. George Teasdale says:

    Your Homeowner, Condo and Renter’s policy covers Liability Coverage in an accident where you are at fault.–example: you hit a car, person, bike or object. This includes legal bills. Remember it covers up to the Liability Limit on your policy. Increasing your Liability Coverage is inexpensive. Your home policy also covers losses for the same perils as if the bike were in your home (theft, vandalism, fire etc). It does NOT cover for Underinsured Motorist/Bike—example: hit and run. Damage to your bike due to a collision is not covered.

    • jeff chef says:

      good point. Also, it’s been my experience that when you make *any* sort of claim on your insurance (of any type, car, home, etc.) you get the dubious privilege of paying it back in via increased premiums (and inversely, lost ‘claim free discounts’) later until paid off, if it was your fault. Hence using a service like BWC (or if you must, AAA) – is better because while you only get the ‘four tows a year’ – it has no effect on insurance rates whatsoever. And if you get towed more than 4 times per year – it’s time to get on the bike or bus anyway and donate that crappy car! :)

  18. NJV says:

    Hope they cover flat tire repairs and broken spokes.

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  20. Sergei Voitenko says:

    Since the time this post was created, a list of bicycle insurance companies in the USA grew by at least one new company – Velosurance Bicycle Insurance. It provides these coverages :

    Crash Damage to Frame & Wheel Set
    Failure Damage to Frame & Wheel Set
    Total Loss by Crash
    Total Loss by Theft
    Theft of Spare Parts
    Liability to Others
    Roadside Assistance
    Replacement Bike Rental
    Riding Apparel Damage
    Medical Payments
    Injury by Auto Contact
    Borrowed Bicycle Coverage
    Event Fee Reimbursement

  21. Pingback: More Cyclists Can Now Call AAA For Help | El Reno Tribune

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