Pete sat down for a chat with David George, CEO of Bikmo, a cycling-specific insurer about all things bike insurance.
Insurance is a funny old game, especially bike insurance. We caught up with the man behind Bikmo to find out more.
What was the inspiration behind Bikmo?
A love for bikes and an ambition to build a business in a sector (cycling) that helps the worlds’ riders spend more time riding. That has been the mission from day 1 and it’s embedded into everything we do at Bikmo.
We want more people to experience the many benefits of cycling, including better health and a cleaner environment, and because of this, we choose to do business in a way that resonates with our beliefs and passions.
Having been driven by these strong values since our inception, Bikmo recently became accredited as a BCorp business, becoming part of a global network of leaders using business as a force for good for our planet. This is underpinned by clear commitments including hitting net zero in early 2021, putting £10m back to independent cycling retailers
through claims by 2023 and supporting the likes World Bicycle Relief and Trash Free Trails through our 1% For The Planet membership.
Who makes up Bikmo and what do they do?
Bikmo is made up of over 30 employees (plus our office dog Seraphine), spread across the UK, Germany and Austria.
Unlike most insurance brands, even in cycle insurance, one of the things we’re most proud of at Bikmo is that everyone who works here is a keen cyclist. We’ve got riders, (including a national champion) across a number of different disciplines from downhill, enduro, road and the school run, and am personally extremely lucky to be at the foot of some stunning trails out in Innsbruck.
As you’d expect with a company of our size, there are a variety of skill sets within the team. One thing is for sure though, and that’s that everyone is united in the underlying belief that cycling makes people happier and healthier and we want to make it easy, fun and accessible for everyone.
What made you want to specialise in cycle insurance?
As riders, we were thoroughly underwhelmed with what was currently on offer to protect us. We couldn’t believe how poor a lot of cycle insurance policies were back in 2014 and knew we could transform what insurance meant to riders.
We always approach insurance from the perspective of a rider and to understand the true value of a bike, rather than just its retail price. That’s why at Bikmo, we make a special effort to settle claims quickly and won’t cough down the phone or say something silly like ‘I could buy a car for that’ when we’re told the cost of your new bike.
I like to think that our staff understand that our customer’s concern isn’t just the expense of repair or replacement, it’s getting back to what they love as quickly as possible. Riding a bike isn’t a hobby, it’s a way of life – or at least it is for us and our community.
How does Bikmo’s bike-specific insurance differ to covering a bike under home contents?
Getting the right insurance can be stressful, particularly when protecting something as important and valuable as a bike. Although it may come as a surprise to some, there are a lot of restrictions with home policies which mean riders should consider a cycle-specific policy.
Many home insurance policies have a single item/bicycle limit as low as £500. For those with top-end bikes, or even a fleet of different bikes, home insurance coverage may not be enough. Another thing to consider is that a home insurance policy is generally designed just as that – to protect your stuff when it’s at the home.
With over 90% of our claims this year involving incidents away from home, anyone who assumes their bike is covered by their home insurance should check the small print carefully. Specialist bike insurance is often the only way to achieve complete peace of mind.
Bikmo was built to keep you riding. With Bikmo you are covered for when things go wrong, not just theft. Accidental damage is the number one type of claim that Bikmo pay out on. Whether that’s a crash or something silly with a car boot or garage door, our main priority is getting you back on your bike again as soon as possible.
Would you say your biggest competitor is those that don’t have insurance?
Aside from the hundreds of thousands of riders out there that sadly misunderstand what they are covered for under their home insurance policies, there are many more who choose not to have any insurance at all. By the nature of our business, our team spends a large proportion of our day speaking with customers who’ve had things go wrong. Fortunately, as Bikmo customers, we’re in the position to help them as quickly as possible but it does make us aware of the risks riders leave themselves open to without adequate insurance.
It’s not just about the bike. Bikmo cover, you and your kit. Cyclists invest a lot in their accessories. A favourite pair of trail pants, new pads and googles can all add up. Though checking if your bike is ok tends to be the first priority for every cyclist after an incident, inevitably, in a crash your kit can end up damaged even if your bike doesn’t. The cost of replacing damaged items can be seriously expensive. but with Bikmo it’s all covered as standard.
It’s important to remember that Insurance isn’t only needed in the event of your bike being pinched or damaged. Nobody likes to think about causing an accident or being held responsible if a pedestrian steps out onto a trail, but it does happen. Aiming to give you complete peace of mind whenever you are riding, Bikmo can cover up to £2m in liability plus your defence costs. This means you can focus completely on the ride, knowing whatever happens out on the bike – Bikmo has your back.
Lastly, entering events and pinning on a number is one of the greatest thrills of cycling. That’s why Bikmo provides cover for most competitions as standard with all of its policies, to give complete peace of mind so all you need to focus on is the finish line.
How did you come about the name Bikmo?
Bikmo evolved from our aim to get people to ride more. We wanted people to ‘bike more’ so came up with the name ‘Bikmo’. We needed something simple, could internationalise well, had the ability to reach beyond the cycling market and it fitted the bill across all points.
How have changes in bikes and how we ride affected how you tailor your policies?
The policies were designed from day 1 to cover most riding types from those with 10 bikes in their garage through to a daily commuter. Keeping the policies simple but comprehensive means changes such as dropper posts, 3D printed bikes or even recumbents don’t need a specific policy as they are already included.
The biggest change we’ve seen recently is the boom in ebikes. This simply wasn’t addressed by the market so we set about doing something about it.
Earlier this year we undertook a survey of over 3,000 riders in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Austria and distributed by British Cycling among other partners. This showed that 38% fewer insurance claims arose from riders on e-bikes compared with traditional bikes.
We believe that the significant difference in claim levels between electric and non-electric bikes is down to a number of factors. Two of the most prominent being the type of use, with 33% of respondents using eBikes primarily for commuting, and a belief that electric-assisted riders typically act more risk-averse.
Whilst fear of theft is often cited as a deterrent against buying an eBike, it was interesting to see that our research actually showed that eBikers are in-fact five times more likely to claim for accidental damage than theft, with theft ranking the fourth most common cause of a claim. Though that may tempt some to risk riding without cover, it is worth pointing out that the cost of damage can often extend to almost the full price of a new bike.
We hope more insurers will listen to the bespoke behaviour and needs of eBike riders and, like Bikmo, look to reflect these differences in their policies.
What’s the strangest/most brazen thing someone has tried to claim for under their policy?
There have been a lot and some we can’t share, but top ones include a guy who took out a policy then tried to claim later that day for a £20,000 ‘VTT’ (french for MTB) without giving any details, one for a broken spoke and also someone claiming for an illegal eBike de-restriction kit.
Favourite moments so far?
I think anyone selling something as part of their business, whether it’s a product or service, will always remember their first customer. There’s so much that goes into getting to the point and for us that included getting over 2,000 email signups at the Rapha Tempest Festival at the 2014 Tour de France when the Grand Depart was in Yorkshire, selling coffee and speaking to riders.
I still remember that first customer well and personally got in touch with our first 2,500 customers which gave a lot of insight, including an interview with a polar explorer who was insuring their Ritte Ace with us.
We have had our hiccups from web servers crashing to event mishaps though thankfully nothing really serious. The most stacks have generally been at Bikmo team events, generally involving ramps into a river or foam pit (sorry Jack/Rob).
Where next for Bikmo?
We have a simple mission to protect the worlds’ riders and 2021 will see the next evolution of that. We have a relaunch planned for the first half of the year including new technology and insurance products to support riders and partners alike. New commercial products are also in the pipeline to help protect the cycling sector and get more people riding.
We’re still committed and on track to achieve our target of putting £10m back to independent retailers by 2023 as part of our sustainability commitments, and will hit net zero by March 2021.
On a personal level and lockdown permitting, I’m building up towards new challenges and revisiting old ones including a Transalp MTB route and more time on gravel. Bring on the vaccines.
You can check out Bikmo’s bike-specific insurance on their website here.
Read all our other interviews over on our Features page here.