Friday, July 11, 2014

STP ride means extra traffic, road closures

This weekend is the Seattle-to-Portland bicycle ride, when an estimated 10,000 bicyclists will take to the roads and trails that span the 200-mile route. An estimated 80 percent of the riders will camp overnight in Centralia, which is the midpoint on the ride. The rest will finish the ride in one day. Ouch.

Drivers in and between Seattle and Portland should be extra alert for cyclists this weekend. There are many road closures related to the ride and there is likely to be heavy traffic at both ends of the ride. Here are some insurance considerations for drivers and cyclists alike.

What happens if there is a collision between a cyclist and a car?

Auto insurers are required by law to offer personal injury protection (PIP) when you buy an auto policy. It covers, up to certain limits, expenses like medical bills, loss of wages and loss of services. PIP applies no matter who is at fault—so even if the accident isn’t the driver’s fault, PIP will pay for covered expenses. You don’t have to purchase PIP, but if you don’t reject it in writing, your insurance company has to add it to your policy and charge you for it. If you aren’t sure if you have PIP, contact your agent or broker. You can read more about PIP, including who it covers and certain exclusions.

Cyclists who have PIP on their own auto policies could also invoke their own coverage, but it would be secondary to the driver’s PIP.

What happens if my bike is damaged or stolen during the ride?

Bicycles typically are covered under homeowner and rental polices if they are stolen, lost or damaged in a residential fire. If the damage is related to a collision with a vehicle, the driver’s auto policy may cover the loss if the collision was the driver’s fault. If you own several very expensive bikes, you may want to talk to your agent or broker about coverage options and whether there are policy limits on bicycles.

Best of luck to all of the riders and be safe, whether you are driving or riding.