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Cycling abroad

Travel litigation expert Clare Campbell discusses what to do if you're considering cycling abroad on holiday or for some serious training in the mountains

Sa Colobra, Mallorca
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    Clare is a travel litigation expert who specialises in accidents abroad, claims under the Package Travel Regulations, maritime and aviation cases and large group illness litigation. She tweets as @HolidayEagle
    The Yorkshire stages of the Tour and our continued success on the velodrome and the road cycling in the Commonwealth Games, has ensured that more people than ever are getting on their bikes and this includes cycling abroad.

    Whether it is a leisurely family cycling holiday to Spain, a charity bike ride to Paris or an intense training camp in Majorca , cycling holidays overseas are on the rise.

    We look at some helpful hints and tips for cyclists travelling abroad, from planning your holiday to the steps to take if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a collision whilst on your bike.

    Before your trip: take out private travel insurance

    Foreign holidays can be expensive and often insurance is dismissed as an unnecessary extra expense.

    A 2013 ABTA study showed that, alarmingly, one in four travellers fail to take out travel insurance. There is a common misconception that travel insurance is not required if you are travelling within Europe because travellers have obtained a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

    This is incorrect. The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and it is crucial to understand the limitations.

    The NHS website explains that a free EHIC will only entitle you to basic state medical treatment at a local hospital and does not provide private medical treatment, cover for lost or stolen property or repatriation to the UK if your injuries are serious.

    Travel insurance, subject to any exclusions within the policy wording, will provide this cover. It is therefore crucial that travellers obtain both the EHIC and private travel insurance cover before their trip. Failure to do so may result in expensive medical and travel costs back to the UK.

    It is especially important to take out insurance if you are cycling outside of Europe, where the EHIC is not valid. Medical treatment, especially in America, can be staggeringly expensive.

    British Cycling membership* does provide liability insurance of up to £10 million, subject to terms and conditions, in the event that a claim is made against you when cycling abroad but again it does not provide cover for medical bills or repatriation.

    So do get travel insurance** before you leave. It need not be expensive but it may well be the best purchase of your trip.

    What to do if you have an accident abroad

    Even with meticulous planning and adequate insurance cover, incidents can happen. Over recent years there have been significant developments in European law.

    The culmination of these changes is to create a more harmonised process intended to provide greater access to justice for those injured abroad as a result of another’s negligence.

    Subject to some exceptions, a UK cyclist can now bring their claim against a foreign driver’s insurance company within the UK Courts.

    These changes are still relatively new and difficulties remain with the application of foreign law and inevitable delays, but nevertheless this is a welcome change for injured claimants.

    If you are unfortunate enough to have an accident abroad, there are a number of practical things I would recommend:
    1. Contact the police and take their full details. Even if tensions are high, cooperate with the police and try to keep calm.
    2. Fill out an Accident Report Form (known as a European Accident Statement) and take the carbon copy. This document can be obtained from your insurer before you travel or is usually provided by the other party. It is a useful, contemporaneous record of the parties and circumstances involved in an accident and can be a vital piece of evidence should liability be disputed. If you do not agree with the document or do not understand what has been written, do not sign the document.
    3. Use your smartphone, take photographs of the accident location from different angles including any road signs or road markings.
    4. Take photographs of the damaged bike/motor vehicles.
    5. Take down the name and addresses of any witnesses, independent or not.
    6. Seek medical attention and ask for a copy of your hospital records before you are discharged.
    7. Contact your travel insurers to notify them of the accident and, if necessary, to arrange private medical care and / or repatriation home.
    8. Seek expert legal advice to deal with any civil or criminal matters that arise.

    Leigh Day Solicitors have a dedicated team able to provide support and advice to those involved in accidents whilst abroad. Contact them on 0161 393 3551

    * British Cycling’s Terms and Conditions can be found at here. British Cycling membership does not cover legal advice and assistance for accidents occurring abroad.

    **Travel insurance is not included with British Cycling Membership but competitive rates for British Cycling members can be obtained online at www.policydirect.co.uk or by calling 01795 597170.

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