Insurers diversify policies to meet demand from bicyclists

JIJI

Bicycle insurance products have diversified as cyclists use their bikes for an increasing range of activities, thus raising the risk of accidents.

Insurance firms have stepped up sales of policies with large payouts, such as ¥100 million, in response to demand for steep damages payments. Even negotiation services for out-of-court settlements have emerged.

Though the some 70 million bicycles reportedly in Japan nearly matches the number of cars, riders are under no obligation to buy insurance, experts point out.

Only about 30 percent of bike owners appear to have accident insurance, a nonlife insurance firm official said.

Nonlife insurance companies saw a spike in the number of inquiries about bike insurance after a court ruled in July that a mother of a boy who caused a serious accident must pay ¥95.2 million in compensation.

Au Insurance Co., a unit of KDDI Corp., the operator of au mobile phone services, launched a product this month with negotiation services for out-of-court settlements. It also became the first Japanese insurer to provide policyholders with home delivery of bicycles damaged in accidents and electric bikes with dead batteries.

Premiums per year start at some ¥4,000, and payouts range from ¥50 million to ¥100 million, the firm said.

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co., a unit of MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc., offers a policy that stipulates benefit payments of up to ¥100 million and litigation settlement services.