Aussies are an adventurous bunch and many of us enjoy the fresh air, low-impact and sometimes messy sport of mountain biking. However, sometimes it can be quite a dangerous pursuit which is why many insurers have multiple restrictions or won't cover you at all for mountain biking as part of your travel insurance.
While some insurers provide cover if you are riding on roads or in organised tour groups, most deny cover as soon as you mention downhill or off-road mountain biking.
There are a few exceptions though. Insurers such as InsureandGo and World Nomads offer cover for mountain biking, provided you observe normal safety requirements such as wearing a helmet and not putting yourself in harm's way.
Common travel insurance conditions related to mountain biking
Insurers that do cover mountain biking often impose conditions on how the bikes should be used, including:
- Wearing a helmet at all times
- Not participating in any form of racing or competition
- Observing all local road rules and laws
- Staying out of closed or restricted areas on designated mountain bike trails
- Not behaving recklessly or taking unnecessary risks
- Informing your insurer of the kind of mountain biking you'll be partaking in
Degrees of cover also differ. World Nomads, for instance, will cover you for injuries you sustain while riding your mountain bike but provides no cover for the bike itself if it is lost, stolen or damaged.
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Why do I need to tell my insurer if I'm planning to go mountain biking?
A travel insurance policy is a legally binding contract entered into by you and your insurer. Any actions or omissions by you that affect the terms of that contract can render it null and void.
If you don't tell your insurer about a possible risk that could influence whether you can be covered or how much you are charged for cover, you run the risk of having your policy cancelled.
Whether it's a high-risk activity, such as mountain biking, or a pre-existing medical condition, you must inform your insurer. It's called Duty of Disclosure, and it protects your insurer from taking on a greater level of risk than was initially agreed upon.
Will I pay more for cover that includes mountain biking?
As most travel insurers won't cover mountain biking, those that do are usually going to charge more for the additional risk they are taking on. But this can vary with insurers, as the following snapshot illustrates:
- Zoom Travel Insurance. You'll be covered for mountain biking as standard excluding downhill, competition or racing but can purchase the Adventure Pack to be covered for non-competitive downhill mountain biking. Under the Bicycle Pack, you'll also be covered up to $5,000 if your bike is lost, stolen or damaged.
- World Nomads. World Nomads covers mountain biking if you upgrade but only up to 6,000m and cover for the bicycle is not included.
- Budget Direct. Cover for mountain biking is included as standard but you will not be able to get cover for racing, extreme ground conditions or stunts and your bicycle will not be covered for loss or damage.
How do I disclose my intention to go mountain biking?
You have a Duty of Disclosure to inform your insurer of your intention to go mountain biking on your holiday. If you do not tell your insurer of your plans to go mountain biking, any claim you make related to mountain biking will not be honoured.
You should disclose your intention to go mountain biking at the time of taking out your policy so that your insurer can inform you of whether or not you are covered and adjust the cost of your premium accordingly.
You can do this by either purchasing additional cover for your planned activities or, if not available, ensuring that mountain biking is included as part of your cover by reviewing the Product Disclosure Statement. If you're unsure, contact your chosen insurance provider before you travel.
Tips for staying safe if mountain biking overseas
- Respect road and trail closures, and ride on open trails only
- Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations
- Anticipate other trail users by slowing down at corners and blind spots, be prepared to stop if necessary and pass others safely
- Keep your equipment in good order and carry spares of everything
- If riding alone, always make sure someone knows where you're going and when you'll be back
What to do if you are injured overseas
If you injure yourself while mountain biking overseas, the first thing to do is to seek medical attention. If the injury is relatively minor, you may need to visit a medical practitioner, pay the fee and have your insurer reimburse you at a later date.
If the injury is serious and requires hospitalisation or evacuation, you will need to contact your insurer's 24/7 Emergency Assistance service. This service will need to approve any hospital treatment you receive and possibly provide a guarantee of payment to the hospital on your behalf.
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