Demand for bike insurance picks up speed in Japan

Huge court-ordered damage payments prompt cyclists to get covered

Demand for bike insurance picks up speed in Japan

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

After several court rulings imposed huge damage payments for accidents caused by bicycles, more of Japan’s cyclists have begun buying liability insurance policies.

Since the start of its fiscal year in April, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance has sold 400,000 new bicycle insurance policies, exceeding the total of 300,000 contracts concluded in the previous year.

Meanwhile, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. reported a 30% growth in bicycle insurance, while Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. had a 20% uptick.

The growth statistics are also indicators of local government’s promotion of the insurance, several people knowledgeable on the matter were quoted by Jiji Press.

In July 2013, the Kobe District Court ruled on an accident, involving a fifth-grade boy crashing his bike into a woman, leaving her unconscious. The court ordered the boy’s family to pay around ¥95 million (US$837,300).

The Tokyo District Court had also ordered a bicyclist who accidentally hit and killed a woman at a pedestrian crossing to pay ¥47 million (US$419,190).

As a result of those rulings, the government of Hyogo Prefecture passed an ordinance in 2015 requiring all bicyclists in its jurisdiction to obtain bicycle insurance. While the ordinance does not indicate penalties for non-compliance, a survey showed that 65% of bicyclists had insurance as of June 2017, up from 60% a year ago. Osaka and Shiga Prefectures also followed suit and passed their own bicycle insurance ordinances in 2016.

Demand for bicycle insurance is expected to rise even more, as Kyoto prefectural and city governments and the municipal government of Kanazawa are set to make cover mandatory by April 2018.

Related stories:
Mountain hikers in Japan urged to take out insurance
Taiwan questions safety and insurance of bike-sharing system
Insurance for hoverboards could be available in Korea soon

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