The (Financial) Costs of a Cycling Injury

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Cycling’s popularity continues to rise. Today, there are more than 66 million riders on roads, trails and tracks, and they ride for many reasons – exercise, sport, fun, commuting. As we’ve entered spring, I’ve seen more and more fellow riders enjoying the sport in my hometown. You see them whirring past you on the street, hear the bells dinging, and see bikes locked up outside of stores & restaurants. It’s the 21st century bike boom, and I for one love it.  

This certainly explains why cycling injuries are on the rise as well – there’s more of us. According to a study from University of California San Francisco, from 1997-2013 there were an estimated 3.8 million (non-fatal) injuries related to cycling, and 9,389 fatal injuries. In this time period, the bill for non-fatal bicycle injuries exceeded 209 billion dollars, and 28 billion dollars for fatal injuries. If my math is right, that’s an average of $55,000 per injury (the non-fatal kind) – that’s a tough pill to swallow.

To put it simply, cycling accidents are expensive.

You probably have a traditional health insurance program, but you also probably have a much higher deductible than you used to. And while it covers the hospital bills, it fails to help keep you financially whole, especially in the case of a serious injury, such as a TBI (traumatic brain injury.) Your health insurance plan does NOT cover:

  • The repair or replacement of your bicycle

  • Any loss of income due to a hospital stay

  • Rehabilitation services such as physical therapy

  • Total costs of certain medical prescriptions, which are high in the U.S.

  • Payment to a caretaker, or loss of income of a loved one who takes on this role

  • Funeral services in the case of a fatal accident.

Another key finding from the study: Older riders - 45 and up - saw a significant increase in injuries – from 26 percent in 1997 to 54 percent in 2013, and amount to a greater proportion of total costs.)

Depending on the severity of the injury, the cost of an injury can be felt by more than a trip to the hospital, especially in the case of a traumatic brain injury. If an injured cyclist suffers a severe brain injury, it could be months or years of care needed. Compounded with the fluctuating state of the U.S. healthcare system, you can never be sure of how much you might need to pay out of pocket. 

So, how do cyclists and their families deal with the financial costs of an injury? One way is fundraisers. Depending on your state, an injured cyclist may be eligible for certain financial aid programs and/or charitable grants. Or a fundraiser could be held – online or through a community event. Both of these options could pan out well, though there is a lot of work to be done to make sure it’s successful.

An overlooked group regarding this issue is the insurance industry – which is exactly suited to build this kind of financial protection. (Here we’ve reached the point of the article where I tell you that I’m a cyclist, and work with an insurance program designed for cyclists – you’re probably reading this on our website. Check us out.) We all know how it works – you pay a premium and hopefully never have to call upon the company regarding an injury. But, if you need it, you know it’s there. And it’s much simpler to be prepared than trying to figure out how to remain financially stable after the crash.