Spring brings many things: flowers, songbirds – and more cyclists and motorcycle riders on Switzerland’s roads. They come out to enjoy the greening countryside and rising temperatures. Most bikers – whether motorized or human-powered – protect their heads with a helmet. But neither a helmet nor a spring tune-up can prevent the risk of an accident. According to official statistics, 56 percent of all traffic accidents involve a cyclist or motorcycle rider. How do you protect yourself in today’s post-vignette world?
«In any case, private liability insurance» makes a lot of sense, explains Patrik Zünd. Motorcycle riders have no choice: for them, liability coverage is mandatory. But even regular cyclists can benefit from private liability coverage. «When the state-run vignette insurance system was eliminated in 2012, it eliminated the requirement to buy a vignette every year. Now, cyclists can take out private liability insurance instead of a vignette. Or they’ll end up paying for damages themselves. And that can be very costly,» warns Zünd.
One group of frequent cyclists is particularly at risk in traffic: children. To ensure they are protected, Helvetia private insurance policies extend coverage to the policyholders’ children, including young adults up to age 20 who still live at home.
The e-bike craze has come to Switzerland – and it has reawakened interest in cycling. Steep climbs can be tackled with ease; shirts remain sweat-free during rides; and Grandma can shop without needing her son to pick her up in his car. «E-bike riders go faster, though, and that means greater risk,» cautions Zünd. Hence the legal requirement for liability insurance for all pedal-assisted bikes that travel faster than 25 km/h. In these cases, e-bike owners will have to purchase a vignette and a yellow moped license plate from their local vehicle licensing agency.
Bicycles are expensive – especially e-bikes. No wonder cycling enthusiasts want to insure their carbon or metal steeds, and not just themselves and other road users. Thieves are particularly fond of high-priced two-wheelers. Thousands of bikes are stolen in Switzerland every year. «Helvetia household contents insurance covers the replacement cost of bicycles in the event of theft,» explains Zünd. A word of caution, though: a bicycle is only covered if it was stolen from a storage room or another part of your home. If a thief swipes it while you’re on the go, the insurance will only pay for a replacement if you’ve purchased the «Simple theft out-and-about» supplementary cover.
However, not all e-bikes are technically bicycles. High-powered two-wheelers that require vignettes are classified as small motorcycles. That means they aren’t included in a household’s contents. However, there are many additional types of additional insurance coverage for motorcycles that can be combined into the perfect solution for any need. That includes semi-comprehensive or comprehensive cover, gross negligence waivers and legal expenses insurance for motorists. With the right cover, you can avoid unpleasant – and expensive – surprises.
Here’s one last tip: if you register your bicycle at www.veloregister.ch, Helvetia won’t charge a deductible if it is stolen.
Patrik Zünd is a Helvetia Principal Agent in Sarnen, where he and his six employees are responsible for the canton of Obwalden. He has been in the insurance industry for over 15 years.