Author Topic: Dealing with the insurance company after a car crashes into your bike  (Read 10402 times)

Andre Jute

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This is the case where someone reverses a vehicle into your bike at the supermarket or parked beside the road, or something like that. Personal injury cases require a lawyer from the beginning, so this isn't legal advice, it's cycling advice about dealing with people presumed to be crooks from the get-go, insurance assessors.

Personally, I would simply claim for a new bike with all the same components, then let the insurance company argue about the present value of a secondhand bike. That way, if you stick to your guns and don't become too agreeable, you may not to lose too much money. This business about being agreeable is important; insurance companies count on victims of accidents being decent to boost their profits.

To play into the insurance company's hands by specifying damage simply as components you will replace yourself is to invite them to argue and impose their own values on you and to cost you immense frustration and in the end real money.

An argument that insurance companies understand is that to bring the bike back up to its condition before their client reversed into you will cost more than it is worth.

The cost is:
*The obviously broken components, when you determine what they are (you haven't yet)
*Components that are suspect because of the crash -- if you don't feel secure on your bike it is a total write-off
*Your time to strip the entire bike
*Time spent finding a magnafluxer with facilities big enough to handle a bike frame, to assure the integrity of the frame
*Ditto for critical components, which may be a different magnafluxer
*Time cleaning the frame of residual magnafluxing materials, a nasty job requiring leather gloves and eye shielding (all these extra costs mount up)
*Time you spend finding and arranging repainting -- especially on a steel bike, every smallest scratch has to be fixed, and soon
*Packing material costs -- a solid wooden box may be good just enough for your bike
*Time to pack the bike properly, several times (magna fluxing, repainting)
*Time to arrange and wait for couriers, several time (magna flux, repainting, there and back)
*The cost of repainting
*Repainter's labour cost of unpacking and repacking a thoroughly stripped frame
*Time spent unpacking the frame (several times, itemize each)
*The cost of disposing of the packing afterwards
*The time spent reassembling the components on the bike
*The opportunity cost of this upset to your health: the total time you didn't have your bike is charged at the rental rate for such a pricey bike, not the mickey mouse cost of a low-grade mountain bike
*Time for unforeseeable holdups, such as there are plenty in any bike assembly, especially after being crashed into by a Land Rover
*An allowance for further components found to be damaged or insecure over time, as happens to fragile bicycle parts designed for ultra-low weight

Calculate your time generously -- to yourself -- and charge at least 50 per hour.

Mark your list "Preliminary estimate. E&O excepted." to imply that it can be enlarged when you discover another cost foisted on you by their driver crashing into you.

If your bike is a Thorn, you will of course want it sent to Thorn HQ to be evaluated, stripped, sent for repainting, reassembled, tested and returned to you as new. (Thanks, Pavel!) That's four courier charges right there..., plus a fair deal of labour, plus parts that at retail are always more expensive than as OEM fitments on a new bike, plus your packing, unpacking time. plus the cost of the packing materials, plus the cost and time to dispose of the packing materials.

Alternatively, say that the insurance company can take the broken bike away and fix it to your full satisfaction as a secure vehicle, and if not, you will expect them to replace it; mention that the frame must have a magnaflux certificate (or a letter from Robin Thorn saying the frame won't fail) to attest to its integrity or you will reject it. Don't bother being "reasonable"; that's their game, and they'll use it to screw you.

Mention that you went to school with several journalists for national tabloids who're always looking for a juicy story of the big guys ripping the little guy, and that your brother-in-law is a lawyer who does a lot of work for the citizen's advice bureau (in the States "pro bono").

All of this should add up to much more than a new bike. You don't care whether the insurance company reels in incredulity or horror; you just need to make a case that these are your losses and one way or another you will get recompense. The point is to make them beg to buy you a new bike instead of this open-ended, expensive mess you're opening up.

Explain that in the Tour de France, "which surely you've seen on television", they throw bikes away when the slightest thing goes wrong with them because the integrity of the entire bike then becomes suspect.

The whole idea of all this is to shortcut all the hassle and uncertainty and simply to get cash for a new bike, or a long way towards it. When that is settled, you can ask the insurance man to take the "dangerous" old bike away -- he won't want to (because he'll have to pay to dispose of it), and you can keep it for spare parts.

Me, I'd add that I want to be recompensed for my now-shattered emotional attachment to my bike. I'd collect too, but for the British it might be a step too far into French emotionalism.

Andre Jute 2017
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 06:27:04 pm by Andre Jute »


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Great post, thank you.



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Required reading for us all. In the insurance game nice people often fare poorly. I'd add to it, that if at all posible try to find a local agent and get friendly with him/her.  Having someone keep your interests in mind can make a world of a difference.

I was certified in North Carolina as an insurance agent. I didn't last long in that profession (life insurance .. or more specifically, tax shelters, in reality) it is quite a business. It is a very competitive business and there are some extraordinarily dedicated professionals that do well, but I just did not have that sort of smarts and focus. having a good agent on your side, can be a very nice thing sometimes. Worth the extra in premiums versus some of those lowball type companies.

Bill C

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Hi Andre
many thanks for this post
 i'll read and re-read this until it's drummend in,
mine is now in the hands of the lbs, he seemed to think it best to write the frameset off
after a very helpful PM from Dan i "eyeballed" the frame upshot is i could see the frame seems twisted at the headtube when eyeballed against the seat tube (as Dan said he thought it might be from my description of the accident)
am waiting to hear back from the lbs but the mechanic seemed to think a replacement frame and forks would be what I'm looking at, i'll ask them to quote for the strip down and rebuild of the bike replacing affected parts should i get anywhere with the insurance company
i did see wiggle offer a no win no fee claim procedure for cyclists with any profit going to sustrans, might be worth contacting them also read a bit about going direct to small claims court and going after the driver for recompense
if i don't get anywhere directly with her insurance
tbh the fact she stopped and gave me all her details works in my favour at least i wont need to try tracking her down, also have the relevant report No as i reported it to the police station so there is a proper record logged

only thing i can't work out is what is a suitable replacement for a  British handmade fillet brazed 725/853 (not sure which) Thorn frame? British handmade and fillet isn't going to be cheap dunno if i'd be happy with a tig far eastern replacemant

atb Bill

Andre Jute

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I wish you luck, Bill.

It may in fact be possible to duplicate your bike. The fellow who when he worked at Thorn fillet-brazed it went into business for himself a town or two over from the town Thorn calls home. You could go direct to him or, even better, Thorn can send him a set of spare tubes of the correct type to braze up. His name was on this forum a couple of years or three ago.


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Kevin Sayles has returned to Woodrup, Andre. You'd probably enjoy seeing his Flickr site: You can still see some of the featured elements he included on the bikes he built for Thorn in his present full-custom builds.

All the best,



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My old 700C lightweight is a Woodrup. First new bike I bought myself, in 1977, but the only original parts remaining are the frame and forks.

Andre Jute

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Kevin Sayles has returned to Woodrup, Andre. You'd probably enjoy seeing his Flickr site: You can still see some of the featured elements he included on the bikes he built for Thorn in his present full-custom builds.

Learned something new at Sayles' site: "bilaminate". I'd pay for custom lugs like those. In fact, about 10 years ago when I was looking for a custom builder to build a multitube stainless design bike of my own, such filleted external butts, though mine were doubled i.e. trilaminate. were an intrinsic part of the design; pity I didn't know about Kevin Sayles when I was so desperate I was even talking to American braziers, which would have added a very stiff shipping charge to the bike. But with my present mileage expectations, ordering a custom bike from a master craftsman would make me feel like those poncey "collectors" who own fine things that they don't use merely to keep them out of the hands of "the less deserving".

Well, then, the maker of Bill's bike is alive and working at a workshop that boasts an established bespoke bicycle service Were me, I'd first enquire whether Thorn has spares or a NOS set of the required tubes, and I'd ask whether they want to subcontract the whole job (stripping the bike, getting the frame and fork made, assembling the components on the painted frame and fork), rather than handle it myself with Woodrup. That would be the best available guarantee of both originality and integrity.

Bill C

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Hi Andre
i have seen the woodrup site a few times, I also like the lugsets they do, the llewelyn site is another worth looking at (if your down under) as he does some nice work

things aren't all bad on the bike front as i have built up the Thorn "Thingy" i now know what it is as it used to be owned by another member and he let me know the back story on it
it IS a Kevin Sayles frame, where as the fillet brazed xTc i don't think is, the xTc did have letters after the serial number i think it was gt? but the frame isn't here so i can't check

I'll upload a few pics of the new ride asap before it gets trashed  ;)
I have been out for a few miles on it and am really pleased with it, can't ride too far as it has a new team pro eroica and it hurts  ::) after 30 miles it kills
must admit i hadn't intended building it up for a while so some components are a temporary compromise, but it was already sprayed and after getting the xTc written off i needed something to take my mind off things,
i still need some xt760 or 770 dual control shifters as at the mo it's fitted with rapidfire shifters (shudder :o ) also needs a different cassette as with the 13/28 Miche the chain  fouls the seatstay on the 13th cog probably try a 12/27 shimano, built it up as just a pure summer bike no racks guards or trappings

must admit having another frame/bike waiting in the wings really took the sting out of the accident
atb Bill