The Western PA Bicycle Club (Wheelmen) joins with over 500 other bicycle clubs and over 400 advocacy organizations annually via the League of American Bicyclists in a pooled insurance buy of general liability and accidental medical insurance insurance. General liability insurance provides insurance from third-party liability claims of bodily injury, property damage, and personal and advertising injury. Examples include:
- Cyclist strikes person walking on trail
- Cyclist crashes due to road conditions
- Cyclist struck by a vehicle
Property damage liability:
- Cyclist strikes and damages a parked car.
The insurance covers club members and first-time invited guests. That means if you are the actor that on the ride that is the nominal cause of why you specifically are being sued, you are covered ONLY IF YOU ARE A CLUB MEMBER OR A FIRST RIDE INVITED-GUEST. The club is covered either way. But for to access the liability insurance, you need to be a member.
Our insurance company encourages us to get waivers from all participants. We get waivers from members when they renew with the club (there is a check box on the online form). The main reason we use paper waivers is to collect a waiver from non-members. (Other than for insurance, the paper waiver helps the ride leader know who is on the ride).
As to what constitutes a club ride for insurances, our club policy is that:
- The ride is posted on our ride calendar in advance of the ride and is identified as our ride (as opposed to a third party ride).
- The ride has an identified ride leader that is a club member.
- The ride is not sanctioned by RUSA or ACP (i.e. sanctioned randonneuring events).
In a separate policy, our club requires ride participants to wear helmets.
Various notes on how the insurance works:
- Sanctioned randonneuring events have different insurance. Riders on sanctioned randonneuring events are not covered by insurance. The RBA and the club are. The club pays $5 to RUSA for every starting rider on every sanctioned randonneuring event.
- For mountain bike activities, a waiver must be signed prior to each activity. Currently, this should be with paper waivers.
- New for 2023, the insurance policy covers ALL ebikes. There is not more worrying about Class 1, 2, or 3.
- While our insurance does not cover head-to-head racing, it can cover time trials on closed courses.
- Special events are rides that are open to the general public AND charge a fee for participation. For special events, we are charged $12.69 PER RIDER PER EVENT.
- Note that our club picnics when we collect new memberships at the start of the day are not special events.
- For club-member only events, we can still charge fees to cover costs, such as to cover food costs or transport of bicycles for an away trip or motel rooms for an away trip).
The insurance policy does include accidental medical coverage for members. In most cases, any injuries are covered by insurance that people already have – their medical insurance or their vehicle insurance. Beyond that, the club insurance accident medical limit is $10,000 per person per incident, with a deductible, and excess of other valid and collectable insurance. This makes the club insurance an insurance of last resort. That is, it mostly comes into play either if the participant (a) has no other insurance, or (b) has a high deductible insurance plan, or (c) something really unusual and horrible happened.
The way the national pool works is that most clubs never see a claim. However, there typically are a few sad situations that turn into expensive claims somewhere in the country. While no insurance company will insure a single club at the rates we get, we get those rates by pooling with over 900 other organizations. We did learn that recently the insurance loss ratio (i.e. percentage of premiums paid out in claims) for general liability is 89%, and for accidental medical is 77%. The insurance company considers those high, and why our cost per member has been rising year after year.
Whenever there is an incident on a ride, the club files an incident report with our insurance company, identifying who was involved, what happened, and witnesses. That is usually the end of it. Over the entire history of the club, neither insurance policy have been invoked for action.
Members are always welcome to file a claim with the support of the club for medical expenses that occur from an incident on a club ride. The claim for is here: Incident Report Form. Keep a copy for your records and send the completed form to:
Health Special Risk, Inc.
4100 Medical Parkway, Suite 200
Carrollton, TX 75007
Customer Service: 800-328-1114
Note that a representative (officer) of the club must also sign the claim.