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I am a bike commuter without a car in California, that seems to be such an unusual combination that it is difficult to find insurance.

I have health + disability insurance, my bike is worth less than $1000. I don't own property and don't have a homeowner's or renter's insurance, nothing worth to steal.

I'd like to get liability protection for the case that I cause an accident.

What type of insurance do I need? Am I overlooking something else I need to insure against?

Update:

I talked to a couple of insurance companies (Allstate, Farmers, Geico) and asked for umbrella insurance, all of them were initially very dismissive of the idea to insure someone without a car. All three told me on the phone there was no way to get a non owners auto insurance, they absolutely needed the type of my non-existing car and the VIN. They also told me that you cannot get umbrella insurance if you don't have auto insurance.

I doubt this, but that was the reply.

I then looked into renter's insurance, and that does indeed cover liability for bike accidents, they confirmed this on the phone.

I found an insurance broker, who offered me renters + umbrella for $655 per year. State Farm has a very high liability renters insurance for about $250 per year, both 1 million coverage.

I am still doubtful if 1 million liability coverage is enough.

In Germany you are required by law to have at least 7.5 mio Euro coverage for personal damage and 1 mio for property damage if you have a car, but that is the absolute minimum. Most insurance policies have a limit of 100 mio Euro.

In principle the required product seems to be a renters insurance, or a non-owners car insurance for people who occasionally drive. The problem is that the insurance companies don't have much experience with the car-less cyclist and can't help much choosing the right product.

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I think that you can get a renter's policy that covers this sort of situation. Probably cheaper/simpler than an ad hoc policy. –  Daniel R Hicks May 22 at 2:26
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Even with "nothing worth to steal" it is still wise to have a renter's policy for its liability protection. If you accidentally start a fire or something and burn down your apartment building, guess who is going to be held responsible for paying for the damage: you. –  whatsisname May 22 at 2:51
    
@whatisname - your great advise applies in most parts of the western world, not only in California, although it comes under different names.... –  mattnz May 22 at 6:40
    
Is there a good place get this information for just about any state? I had renters insurance while I was living in a trailer that caught fire. While the fire was contained to the underside, the whole interior filled with smoke. It paid me really good ($$$$) to wash dishes and clothes again. –  BPugh May 22 at 13:30
    
Renters insurance won't cover liability on the road. To get that kind of coverage, you have to have auto insurance of some sort, even if you don't have a car (At least currently in the US). There are some European countries that have bike only liability, but I'm not aware of (And couldn't find in searches) any company that does bike only insurance in the US. –  JohnP May 22 at 15:17

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I found one insurance that will be of interest for Germans:

The insurance broker OSD offers a liability insurance for German nationals that live temporarily abroad, for up to 5 years. The insurance company is called BDAE - Bund der Auslands-Erwerbstätigen, they work with Würzburger. The liability explicitly covers bicycles "4. aus dem Besitz und dem Gebrauch von Fahrrädern;".

It has 5 million Eur coverage and is much cheaper than the renters insurance, about 100 Eur per year.

I haven't yet received a written confirmation from the U.S. based insurance that they cover bicycle liability, I'll post it when I get it. I am quite convinced that renters insurance would cover bike accidents, here is an older page with some good comments. 303 Cycling news

Update:

I went with a German international liability insurance from Allianz. It is valid for up to 5 years abroad (no time restrictions for the EU), and the clock is reset with every visit back. They confirmed this in writing. It costs about 90 Eur per year. The max liability amount is 30 M Eur.

The U.S. renters insurance was State Farm, they confirmed on the phone that they would cover bike liability, but they never replied to me when I asked for a written confirmation. It would have cost $270 for $2M coverage. Many of the other insurance companies in the U.S. only offer relatively meager amounts of coverage (~ 100k), so I would recommend a closer look at State Farm for anyone interested (please post an update in that case), I am certain that they would cover bike liability, I just did not want to dig through the insurance policy when they can't be bothered to reply.

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Also see markel insurance: markelinsurance.com/Pages/default.aspx –  Benzo Jun 16 at 14:09

Bob Mionske has been banging the insurance drum for years, and has a column from two years ago that links to an insurance product that's theoretically coming soon: http://www.bicyclelaw.com/road-rights/a.cfm/road-rights-just-in-case http://spokeinsurance.com/

Better World Club briefly offered such a service for bicycle members, but apparently discontinued it: http://www.betterworldclub.com/bicycles/bike_faq.cfm

American liability insurance requirements are far lower than those in Germany, unfortunately, because we have structured our society so that, outside a few major cities, just about every idiot out there needs to be able to drive in order to live a normal life. California's minimum liability requirement is $15,000, which is exhausted in approximately 3 seconds in an American hospital: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs%2Fbrochures/fast_facts/ffvr18.htm

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