Last updated on, removing one insurance provider who no longer covers bicycle travel.
This is a detailed post about understanding and choosing insurance for cycle touring and bikepacking trips, both short-term and long-term.
Because I get a lot of questions on the topic of insurance for cycle tours, this article is my attempt to answer all of them in one thoroughly researched, human-written, AI-free post.
This is for anyone looking to insure a cycle tour or bikepacking trip, whatever length, duration or destination you have in mind, and whether it’s your first ever bike trip or you’re just looking for up-to-date information about insurers who cover cycling as an activity while travelling.
Later on, I’ll make introductions to some of the insurance providers people are using right now for cycle touring and bikepacking trips. There is a slight bias towards UK-based insurers, as this is where most of my readers call home, but many of the companies listed below will insure residents of almost any country, so keep reading.
The 2 Different Things People Mean When They Talk About Cycle Touring & Bikepacking Insurance
We all see cycle touring and bikepacking through slightly different lenses. Which lens usually depends on where we came to cycle touring from – usually either a predominantly cycling background, or a predominantly travelling background. This affects how we think about the intersection of cycling, travel, and insurance.
Cyclists tend to think about insurance policies that’ll cover damage to or theft of their bicycles while they’re travelling with them.
Travellers tend to think about insurance policies that’ll insure a range of travel, medical and personal expenses while they’re riding a bike.
This is relevant because these are two totally different insurance products.
One is a special type of bicycle insurance policy.
The other is a special type of travel insurance policy.
Some bicycle insurance policies will also insure a rider for overseas medical expenses. And some travel insurance policies will also insure an expensive bicycle for damage or theft.
But in general, if you want to be covered for accidents and medical emergencies and your very expensive touring bike covered for damage or theft at the same time, it’s quite hard to achieve without buying two separate insurance policies – one for you, and another for your bike.
And if you’re looking to cover a long-term, multi-year worldwide bike trips, the unfortunate truth is that such policies are even harder to find.
Hard… but not impossible.
Bicycle Insurance Covering Overseas Travel
If you’re looking to get your bicycle insured against theft or damage abroad, what you will quickly find is that some such policies do exist, but that:
- they are usually limited to trips of a couple of months at most,
- they depend upon you using the same kind of security precautions as you would at home (namely locking the bike with a certified lock to an immovable object), and
- they’re expensive.
Given that, if you are looking for bicycle insurance for overseas tours of up to two or three months in duration, there are a couple of such options available:
1. ETA offer an annual cycle insurance policy that covers bikes and accessories for up to 90 days abroad, up to a value of £5,000, including a new-for-old replacement policy and emergency cycle hire, leaving you free to arrange your personal travel insurance separately. In Europe, personal accident cover is also included (but not liability). This one is for UK residents only. Read the full details on their website.
2. Yellow Jersey is a provider of specialist bicycle and travel insurance, with cycle travel policy options covering loss, theft and damage of bicycles, luggage and accessories, medical costs, and other costs in the context of overseas travel with a bicycle. Again, it’s for UK residents only. More details in a new tab.
I’d love to hear readers’ suggestions for companies providing bicycle insurance for overseas trips by residents of other countries – just leave a comment below.
Travel Insurance Covering Cycle Touring & Bikepacking
If you’re looking to travel for longer than a month or so, you’re willing to rely on your wits to keep your expensive bike safe, and/or your bike is worthless and not worth insuring anyway, you’ll be looking primarily at travel insurance policies that cover cycle touring (aka: bikepacking).
At which point you must understand that (in insurance-policy-style bullet points):
- most so-called ‘annual’ travel insurance policies actually only cover individual trips of up to 30–90 days within that year,
- many long-term travel insurance policies (aka: ‘backpacker’ policies) do not explicitly cover cycle touring and bikepacking, only cycling that is ‘incidental’ to the trip,
- most long-term travel insurance policies that do cover cycle touring and bikepacking still exclude intercontinental trips, and
- even the most comprehensive of these are unlikely to cover the loss, theft or damage of a very expensive expedition touring bike or bikepacking bike.
Cycle touring and bikepacking is considered by many insurers to be a ‘hazardous activity’ or ‘extreme sport’, involving increased risk and thus either incurring an additional premium or being excluded from the list of activities covered. Expensive touring bikes and bikepacking bikes are also considered to be extremely steal-able things. Which they are.
Yes. This sucks. But at least it narrows the field when it comes to choosing from the few travel insurance policies that explicitly do cover cycle touring and bikepacking.
Cycle Touring & Bikepacking Insurance Providers
The following insurance providers cover cycle touring (whose definition includes bikepacking) as an activity or will do so on request. They typically won’t insure the bicycle itself for more than the maximum single item value of the personal belongings cover, which is usually well below the price of a new touring bike.
I’ve listed these providers in ascending order of the prices I was quoted when I last updated this post, but you should of course request your own quotes if you choose to follow up.
1. Insure And Go have grown into one of the UK’s biggest ‘basic’ travel insurance providers, and all of their policies (including backpacker policies) explicitly cover cycle touring, though it’s worth mentioning that personal accident and personal liability are excluded. Starting cover is basic, but aspects (including valuables cover) can be upgraded. Visit insureandgo.com.
2. Adventures Insurance specialise in bespoke insurance for more adventurous pursuits, and cycle touring can be specified as an activity. They’ll allow for individual items of equipment up to £600 in value to be covered. Quotes for long-term cover may require a phone call. Visit quote.adventurescover.co.uk.
3. WorldNomads’ backpacker-oriented policy is available to residents of 130+ countries, can be taken out when you’re already abroad, can be extended online, and covers a range of activities. You’ll need to add Level 2 activities cover for ‘independent cycle touring’, for which personal liability cover is excluded. Intercontinental cycle touring is also not covered. Altogether, this makes a WorldNomads policy suitable for a tour that’ll be taking place on a single continent. Visit worldnomads.com.
4. Campbell Irvine are often used by participants of professional expeditions. They specialise in adventure travel, covering a vast range of activities, with the ability to extend a long-term single trip policy over the phone. It covers volunteering but not employment. While ‘cycling’ is covered, the policy wording is not explicit about cycle touring. During a previous update to this post, I made a phone call to confirm that cycle touring was indeed covered in a leisure (ie: non-professional) capacity, but you should certainly make your own enquiries if in doubt. Visit campbellirvinedirect.com*.
5. The BMC (British Mountaineering Council), who I used for some of my earliest trips, offer cycle touring cover for up to 12 months at a time. You’ll need the ‘Trek’ policy for cycle touring to be covered as an activity, and while you get plenty of mountain activities and BMC membership benefits thrown in, the cover isn’t cheap. Visit thebmc.com.
Don’t Forget These Key Things About Buying Cycle Touring Insurance
Remember that these companies are operating in a highly competitive and lucrative field, and that negotiation over what’s covered and for how much is perfectly possible – over the phone.
Indeed, calling a potential insurer direct is my top tip to make sure you get the cover you need at a decent price.
It’s also worth mentioning that, in the event of a medical emergency abroad, the claims agent’s job is to manage your case in a way that also minimises the cost to the insurer.
Unless you’re too incapacitated to fly, this often means you’ll be advised to return to your country of residence as soon as possible. Why? Because your insurance cover can then be considered terminated: you’ve curtailed your trip, your domestic healthcare system takes over, and the exposure to your insurer is limited to the cost of a one-way economy flight, plus any curtailment benefit you may be due. (Depending on your country of residence, this may have implications regarding domestic health insurance too.)
Finally, whether or not you insure your trip, it’s common sense to ensure your safety in the first place by cultivating a healthy attitude to safety and security. My bet is that doing so will have a much greater effect on whether or not you still have your body and belongings intact at the end of your trip.
And that, I think, is a topic for a future article.
Bogged down in research for your next big bicycle adventure?
I wrote a book to help with that. How To Hit The Road is designed to take the pain out of planning a bike tour of any length, duration or budget. Available as a low-priced ebook or paperback.
42 replies on “Cycle Touring & Bikepacking Insurance: All You Need To Know (& Popular Insurers)”
09 May 2023
i just tried Insure & Go . They refuse to insure 90 days in europe . No policy whatsoever . Was looking for France , Italy , Spain so give or take 30 days in each but they stated that thier underwriter refuses anything more than 60 days …
Ive used these for twenty years way back in my backpacking days . They still can insure 365 days dependant on which countries but for more than 60 in Europe they won t do it ….
Hey Dean and thanks for the update. I also just asked for a quote for 90 days in France, Italy & Spain and was also unable to get one. It was possible to get 90 days cover in each of these countries separately, but for a 3 month multi-country trip in Europe it seems you might need to look elsewhere right now. Let’s hope they change it back!
Nice article, plenty of useful advice. Not sure where you found the information that SafetyWing covers bicycle touring. They specify in their policy that cycling and other sports need to be “incidental” to the trip. I verified with their customer service team and they confirmed: SafetyWing doesn’t cover bicycle touring, unfortunately… Only day trips by bike can be considered “incidental”.
Thanks for the note, Joanna – I’ve updated the post with this new information. At the time of original research, it was considered that cycling was covered in a non-professional, non-competitive capacity, so it seems the definition may have changed in the time since.
As a US citizen, this last little caveat in the post raises a question I can’t seem to find addressed anyhere online:
“…deliver your immediately to your home country in economy class on a scheduled airline, at which point your insurance cover is terminated as you’ve ‘gone home’ and it’s up to the local health service to look after you.”
Desn’t this mean that there’s still a huge financial risk in the event of a serious injury while on tour even if you’re covered with travel medical insurance? For example, if I were injured, couldn’t the travel insurance simply cover the relatively cheap medical evacuation back to the USA, allow the coverage to terminate, and then I’d be stuck with all of the medical treatment expenses since the USA has no public health safety net? Does that mean that for the risk to really be mitigated, US citizens touring need to carry both travel medical and domestic medical insurance for the entire duration of their trip? Since health insurance in the US is so expensive if you’re not covered through your employer, carrying both insurance policies seems a bit absurd. I haven’t read of anyone carrying both, but I’m worried about this situation.
Hi Aaron. This is a good point, but by no means exclusive to US residents. The country I currently live in also has very limited public healthcare provisions, and almost anything beyond a basic consultation with your GP requires upfront payment. Because of that, I also have private medical insurance to cover the costs of emergency treatment. If I were injured abroad and evacuated here, the same situation you’re describing would apply. So while I don’t want you to take my word as gospel, and I think you should pose this question to other US citizens travelling abroad (as well as to the insurance companies!), the answer may well be that you’d be best off with both travel and domestic medical cover if you want to ensure all possible financial risks are mitigated.
Worth mentioning that every travel insurance policy I’ve ever bought has charged me a hefty additional premium if the US has been on my itinerary, such are the costs of medical care.
Hi — that’s such good advice from Stephen Peel — I contacted Trailfinders and you’re right they were really helpful and quoted me £400.00 a year which can be rolled over to the next year so three years away would £1200.00.
Another question as I’m a pensioner is it ok to allow the pension to be paid into your bank account whilst you’re out of the country ??
The only I know of, that I’ve used myself for halfway around the world, is Trailfinders. Most of the others require you to be in your home country when you review after 6 or 12 months, or they won’t cover you for solo cycle touring, or repatriating if severely injured. Trailfinders will let you review from wherever you are in the world online and will cover solo cycle tourists medical and worse. Don’t go without insurance, unless you have no family, because if anything serious happens to you, they will be left with the bill. Steve
Good blog Tom — can you advise me — I am or will be 70 when starting my world tour — can I get insurance cover for this or am I doomed !! Dudley Walter — starting March 2022
I’ve bought an annual policy from cycle cover for the past 2 years. I do short (under a month) tours in Europe.
I had the misfortune to need to use it on my last tour — my partner got his passport and various bits stolen while we were cycling through Naples (they went through the pannier while we sat in a traffic jam!). The claim was processed quickly and with minimal fuss — they covered the emergency passport cost, the cost of everything that was stolen, travel to/from the embassy, the accommodation while we waited and a replacement ferry ticket.
The reason I went with cycle cover was that they provided a really high level of cover for the actual touring bike and kit, as well as ‘normal’ travel insurance, which I’d buy anyway. I think it was around £160 for the year for us both.
Thanks for the website Tom, it really spurred me on to start bike touring!
Thanks Jenny! Nice to hear good things about a travel insurance company for a change! 🙂
Just called adventures insurance and they do cover bicycle touring but there is a caveat — if you go above 1000m above sea level at any point in the trip you are not covered.
So it would be ok for flat touring around scandi and parts of Europe but not so good elsewhere.
Thanks for this post, very useful!
Worth noting that Campbell Irvine do not insure for solo trips. I just tried to get a quote for a solo trip in South America and they told me they didn’t have a policy for me if I am not in a group of 3 or more people.
Really… that’s news to me. They always used to! Thanks for the update!
I’ve just done a little extra research to add to this excellent post. We are currently travelling in North and South America and have decided to swap to bikes. Unfortunately, World Nomads will not extend our current policy, or even give us a new one as they count it as Inter-continental travel insurance, and won’t cover Central America.
Anyway, I found three other options – all who would do Cycle Touring (between 12–18 months long) and all who would allow a trip to start away from the UK.
Worldwide Insure – £1596.00 (for two people for 12 months, Worldwide)
Trailfinders – £1020.00 (for two people for 12 months, Worldwide excl Canada and USA)
Globelink – £819.14 (for two people for 15 months, Worldwide, including a £70 add on for mountain biking).
They each had varying levels of personal effects cover (Trailfinders was the best from memory).
I agree with Trailfinders, they were the only ones I could find that would let me renew my insurance without having to return to the UK to do it. They don’t insure pre-existing condition, but non of them do. No messing online form with Trailfinders, but I don’t know of anyone who has had to make a claim and if they did, how it went.
Thanks for the great info, as always
Just been looking through policy wordings and also chatting to a sales advisor at insure and go
It’s worth noting that Insure & Go’s cover excludes Personal Injury and Personal Liability for cycle touring. I asked for clarification on this: basically you’ll have your medical/repatriation expenses covered but won’t be entitled to the payout should you be disabled/unable to work as a result of an accident or injury whilst cycling, and also won’t be covered for liability to others whilst cycling (e.g. knocking someone over).
I think I still may buy a policy from insure and go, as their’s works out £160 cheaper than everyone else’s (for a three month trip within europe, europe including turkey)
Finally worth noting that Insure & Go’s ‘backpacking’ policy seems to be cheaper and better than their ‘single trip’ policy
AXA travel insurance have a cycle touring add on.
Just about to cycle from the UK to Prague and I discovered that my free travel insurance through my bank (HSBC) covers me for medical, (10 million) baggage, repatriation on injury, cancelled journeys/bookings etc, etc all well and good for 30 days max (extendable to 120 days on a small fee) As for the bike ? well I found out that a small additional premium of £9 turns my house contents insurance into a worldwide cover for my bike (during cycle touring) for theft, malicious damage and accidental damage if I fall off. Cycle touring comes under leisure activity, although if I start to race someone in an professional event, I get zilch, (can’t imagine racing with a full set of panniers on, but there you are) Hope this helps. I was going to go down the CTC route but started to investigate the insurances I already have. One quicky minor issue is that the bike is not covered while I am on transportation of any kind, ie:- ferry, train and plane as they are not on the ground 🙂 Hope this helps.….Cheers Mark
Do you have any info on cycle touring insurance for South Africa? When, I toured in NZ, I used a Canadian company. But, it looks like they don’t have any coverage for Africa. Thanks in advance!
Can you clarify the question? Are you asking for an insurance provider to cover touring in South Africa? In which country are you resident? Have you enquired with all of the suggested companies on this list?
I struggled to find insurance for my husband and myself for a long cycle tour due to the time scale, which could be up to 2 years, and our ages. Both over 55. Tried all the companies mentioned above, none of which would cover us. Finally got cover through Trailfinders. Phone them rather than online. Inter-continental cycle touring was not counted as hazardous so no extra premium, and no extra premium for our age. Many back-packer type insurances wouldn’t cover at our age. Also they would cover for as long as we wanted, renewing on the road. Didn’t try for bike cover as would be too expensive. Have not claimed, so don’t know what that would be like.
[…] A lot of regular travel insurance does not cover cycle touring so you may need a specialist policy. Tom’s Bike Trip has useful advice on cycle touring […]
[…] (Edit: Tom Allen’s written an article about travel insurance specifically for cycle touring too. See Insurance). […]
Hi, thought I’d add my recent experience.
I tried a few of the recommended above but was looking for 6 months + which some seemed not to be covered often and wanted explicit return dates (seemes “until my sanity and/or budget hits rock bottom” wasn’t acceptable).
I ended up going with Travel Nation https://www.travelnation.co.uk/round-the-world-travel-insurance after comparing 7 or so https://drive.google.com/open?id=1L_s03_XjHpb5ihGohIV7A21QXIqsOp56-yijLFet0ZM&authuser=0
They seemed to provide good cover, competitive rate, cycle touring, extendable (both duration and regions) during and I was able to add my bike onto the policy.
I asked about countries on the FCO blacklist (Iran) and they said, although not covered with them, I was ok to take out another policy if need just for Iran and run in parallel.
12-month trip around the world: £528.18
The bike (£900) added about £60 to the £205 4 month quote I got.
Hi there, So here is what I think a lot of people will be looking for, I wish I had this info yesterday, would have saved a lot of headbanging.
We are UK residents and have started a round the world bike trip (duration — 5years, ish).
Because we started in Europe we didn’t get insurance because we have EU health cards. Now we are in Spain and heading to Morocco and beyond.
So I ran into all of the problems states above, absolute nightmare tried 10 companies (all recommended on this blog/commenrs).
I think someone has already mentioned TRAIL FINDERS.
They are the only one it seems to cover for what I needed.
I spoke to one of the senior guys (ask for john Mclennan, phone number is +44 20 7368 1200 and say extension 0496). He now know’s the score.
I took out a 12 month policy which can be toppesd up wherever you are in the world.
Worldwide cover ex. N America — £489
Worldwide cover inc. N.America £555
I got my pre existing asthma added for £14.95
So I didn’t have to start in UK (i said that I would literally
Take a plane home, start the cover and fly back out and they agreed this was not necessary).
Iran is now not blacklisted by UK FCO (it was when we started but since reopen embassy), but still covered in FCO blacklisted countries if you have a
‘Normal accident’ i.e. As long as any ‘baddies’ don’t cause the accident. I suppose getting shot by rebels in East Ukraine for example, but if Mr John Ukraine knocks you down in his car, then a‑ok.
Hope this is useful, I spent an hour talking to them (4 hours trying everywhere else) and now at least we are covered.
Thanks for your comment as you will have saved me some hard work. I am off to Morocco in a month or so and after that no idea and no idea for how long. The prospect of finding correct travel insurance it so difficult and appreciate all your hard work
Hi Paul, I don’t know whether your still about and receive this, but I too am now just into the last few months prep on my own world cycle and have been struggling to find insurance due to pre existing medical conditions and of course the duration.
Everyone I have tried have had a max of 12 months before I have to return to the UK in order to take out further insurance. Having to return home was not a part of my plan.
I have contacted Trailfinders as you suggest, and although they only allow 12 months at one time, you can take out a further policy without having to return to the UK to do it, simply doing it online is fine with them. Nice.
The cover is a basic cover with no pre-existing issues covered, which is fine. It doesn’t cover loss of equipment or damage to equipment, so not fine, but beggers at this point. It is not cheap as you have stated, with a current price for 2017 being £600 for 12 months Worldwide including North America.
Now that was just a trial run with them on their website, followed by a phone call from me to double check everything. The number was given to speak with their pre-existing health issue department to take out extra cover for those condition’s, if I wish.
I too am travelling through Europe for the around 8 months to a year, before heading out to Asia, and so will make use of my European Health Insurance Card for that time, making sure to have the card around my neck so that anyone taking me to the hospital (god forbid) will see that I am exempt’ish.
Thanks for you help Paul, best wishes. Steve
I just spoke to TravelNation, who told me that my bike wouldn’t be included in the insurance but that I can do a 6 month policy which does include cycle touring for £335. FYI for October 2017 current rates.
Hi Tom, once again, I find myself on your incredible website, filled with almost everything I need to prepare for my own trip. I am in a slightly different situation, that I am a Brit living as ex-pat in Germany. I was having a nightmare finding an insurance for my trip that covered my health for more than 18 months, firstly because I’ll probably be on the road for over two years, and secondly that I’m already almost 40. All policies I could find clearly stated that I either could not renew after 12/18 months, and if it was possible to renew, I would need to be back home or go for a further health check up, which was not feasible. I then popped into a local branch of STA Travel (in Göttingen) in order to enquire about Visas and travel permits along my route, and just out of curiosity asked about Insurance. I can now have total peace of mind (albeit 1,860€ lighter in pocket) that for the next three years (yes, I managed to cover myself for 36 months!!!.…with option to further extend!!) I have personal health insurance, personal belongings insurance up to 3,000€ as well a personal indemnity insurance just in case I cause damage to another person or property. This policy was offered by Allianz, which is a German company, however from my days of working in finance in London, I know they do exist in UK as well. I do not know if such a policy would be possible for a UK resident to take out, but certainly worth looking into. Anyway, thought this may help anyone looking for something similar.
Keep up the good work and looking forward to the next release of A Tale of Two Rivers (I’m originally Persian, so I was fascinated by what you and Leon did)
Very good advice, thanks.
My experience suggests that it’s worth looking at “mainstream” insurers. The AA do single trip cover (up to 6 months, I think) with a bolt on that covers cycle touring.
In response to my email to clarify the terms, I got this reply from the AA: “I am pleased to confirm that you would be covered for Cycle Touring throughout the duration of your trip (providing you wear a helmet) from 07/04/2015 to 14/08/2015 as you have purchased the relevant upgrade (Hazardous Activities Grade 2).”.
Premium for 2 people for 4 months in Europe excluding Spain (including Balearic & Canary Islands), Cyprus, Turkey and Malta was £106.87
Insure and Go may have dropped ‘cycle touring’ from their cover.
It now says ‘no’ next to it on the website in the activities covered list and isn’t in the hazardous activities list either.
Great info here.
So many variables to factor in.
Having just turned 60, at least one of the companies you quoted won’t take me.
Oh, the joys of age!
I am considering doing a world wide cycle tour, commencing in the spring 2016. I will be 61 when I ‘kick’ off the tour.
Please can advise on the insurance company that you finally opted to go with and why?
See my comment below re age!
Ann Wilson (who turned 60yrs on her RTW trip — see CGOAB journal) used Navigator until she reached 65yrs. And you can renew online too, without too much difficulty apparently. Like you, I’m planning starting out next Spring — a tad younger than you (at 58yrs!).
One point worth mentioning is different people define ‘intercontinental’ differently. It’s well worth checking. World Nomads count South and North America as one continent. So my trip from Ushuaia in Argentina to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska is covered. I had this confirmed twice, by email and verbally on the phone! (October 2014)
They told me they don’t extend indefinitely, you can only extend up to 18 months but you can take out a new policy then. I am yet to discover what the difference is, and hopefully won’t!
Great reading about the credit card rewards and the insurance. I am wondering if you or anyone knows if the free travel insurance that comes with Amex is any good
Cheers for this Tom — always useful to get information and insight into the confusing world of policies to cover a bike trip!
I’ve looked into a few of the ones you mention in the past, and like many used to go with the BMC. My last few trips however I phoned the BMC, and though the website said that you could be covered for cycle touring, on the phone I was told that this was only for short trips (ie 2–3 weeks of cycle touring) and that they wouldn’t cover longer amounts of touring within a longer trip policy. It’d be good if they’ve changed that rule since 2012, as they have some of the best cover for hiking and climbing expeditions…
Great advice, cheers!
My pleasure. Loved your story of ‘hardship’ on tour. We all have days like that!
So well said.