When bikes and garages collide
When bikes and garages collide

It’s Sunday afternoon and you are driving home from back to back cross races.  You are tired from racing and the long drive home.  You press the garage door button on your car visor and Bam! The sound of metal on metal and the sight of broken glass gets your heart pumping.  You think you smell Gatorade pouring from your now upside down bike into the backseat of your Town and Country Wagon.

When this happens, you hope your insurance corporation remembers all the monthly payments you have sent them for the past 21 years and writes you a check for the damage. However, sometimes corporations don’t always care about honoring their end of the bargain.  Instead, they may look for ways to avoid paying you.  What matters is not what the corporate representative tells you, but what your insurance policy says.  Follow the steps below to try to get money for your damaged property.  If you feel you are being treated unfairly contact a lawyer.

Bike on Roof Rack vs. Garage-Now What?

  1. Request a certified copy of your insurance policies (home, renters, auto).
  2. Examine closely to find language related to coverage for the crash.
  3. Most policies will pay for property damage “caused by a vehicle.”  Damage to bikes hitting a garage can be caused by:
    1. A vehicle (car) driving into the garage;
    2. The bikes (vehicles) making contact with the garage; Bike is vehicle-Wis. Stat. §340.01(5)
    3. The bikes getting ripped off the rack and colliding with the car (vehicle).
  4. Some car polices provide coverage for property “attached to or made part of the car,” look for this type of language.
  5. Look carefully at the exclusions.  If bicycles are not specifically listed, the insurance company should provide coverage.  Exclusions written into contract by the insurance company are strictly construed against the insurer (your company) and in favor of the insured (you) Meiser v. Aetna Cas. And Sur. Co., 98 N.W.2d 919, 8 Wis.2d 233 (Wis. 1959).
  6. Check your policy to see whether your company pays the cost to repair, replace, or something else.  Look for definitions of words in your policy such as “replacement value,” –the cost to repair or replace the property with new property of equivalent kind and quality to the extent practical without deduction for depreciation.
  7. After determining your company should pay for your bikes, take the bikes to a local shop and get a replacement cost.
  8. Send photos along with the estimate from the bike shop and request a check.
  9. If the insurance company refuses to pay you when they should, consider suing your own insurance company and consider a bad faith lawsuit in addition to the breach of contract.  Consider filing a complaint with the Commissioner of Insurance: https://ociaccess.oci.wi.gov/complaints/public/
  10. Consider planning ahead by purchasing insurance that you know provides coverage for this type of crash. There are providers available that pay for damage to your bike caused by the garage with no depreciation.
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