Does your bicycle business need tour operator’s insurance?

cycle tour operators insurance
It is a familiar scenario, one we’ve seen countless times. It could start with a casual weekend away riding bikes with your friends. It’s a success. Other friends, friends of friends, even customers want to ‘get involved next time’. Before you know it, your shop that previously offered repairs and spare parts now arranges trips, tours and training camps. Does this mean you need tour operator’s insurance?

We get it. Cyclists are demanding more from their local shops, cafes and clubs. You’re evolving your business model to suit those demands. It’s a natural progression. However, you shouldn’t let your insurance coverage limit your business potential.

What’s the issue?

Most basic business insurance policies will either exclude ‘tour operator’s liability insurance’ or not be intended to pick up such liabilities. Your retail policy for instance. Although you may not be a tour operator by trade, UK regulations are applicable to anyone who creates and sells a ‘package’.

The Package Tour Regulations 1992 defines a package as “the pre-arranged combination of at least two of the following components when sold or offered for sale at an inclusive price and when the service covers a period of more than twenty-four hours or includes overnight accommodation”:

  • Transport
  • Accommodation
  • Another activity, other than transport or accommodation, that accounts for a significant proportion of the package.

For example, if your business has arranged a trip within the UK, Mallorca or further afield for an ‘all-in price’ that covers flights, accommodation and bike rental, you would be liable should there be an issue. It doesn’t matter if the on-the-ground service was provided by a local company. You arranged it, you’re liable.

Similarly, even if you let people arrange their own flights, but you arrange accommodation, lead the rides and provide some minibus transfers, legally you are acting as a tour operator.

2018 regulation changes

On 1st July 2018, an update to the regulations will come into force. This will align the directive with modern-day booking habits such as online sales, low-cost airlines and peer-to-peer accommodation. In doing so, this will extend the scope and definition of what constitutes a packaged tour. The definition for ‘other activities’ now encompasses services including, but not limited to, vehicle hire, sports events and sports equipment hire.

tour operator's insurance regulations

Do I need tour operator’s insurance?

There are two scenarios where the answer is no:

  • if the trip lasts less than 24 hours with no overnight accommodation

e.g. travel to and entry into a sportive lasting only one day

  • if trips are occasionally arranged on a not-for-profit basis for a limited group, e.g. an informal winter-sun training weekend where one person books flights and accommodation with costs then shared equally among riders.

Beyond the scope of these situations, if you’ve arranged more than one component of the trip, the answer should be ‘yes’. Especially if your business intends to generate a profit from arranging the tour.  If something were to go wrong, irrespective of whether it was your fault, the rider could seek damages from you. Typically these claims fall under three categories:

  1. Loss of value – the difference between a 5* hotel and 3* hotel
  2. Out-of-pocket expenses – additional cost following a breach of contract
  3. Loss of enjoyment – compensation for distress or disappointment.

One of the costliest scenarios is if the accommodation providers you had arranged are deemed negligent. Were your riders to get ill from the meals provided, or catch a bug from an unclean pool, the costs can escalate. Particularly if they must take time off work.

You could also be liable for the negligence of suppliers. A claim could arise from something as innocuous as a slip in a hotel, or a fall on a group ride. This liability falls to you. Even if you insist your riders arrange their own travel insurances policies covering medical costs and repatriation, wider liability settlements often subrogate back to the tour operator.

Imagine your group of 40 riders all contract E.Coli from the evening buffet at the hotel you had arranged…

What solutions do I have for my tour operators insurance?

  1. Check your current coverage – look in the list of exclusions for reference to tour operators liability insurance
  2. If it is excluded within your policy, ask your current insurer if it can be included
  3. If the answer is no, seek a stand-alone tour operators insurance policy in the short term, alongside your combined commercial policy
  4. Upon the renewal of your insurance, make sure you choose an insurer who can accommodate all of your business needs. This is the most cost effective solution.

Simply complete our tour operator’s insurance fact-find and we can advice you.

Still a little confused? We can help. Yellow Jersey Business understands the risks involved, and we’re here to give you the industry specific advice you deserve. Call 0333 003 0046 to speak to one of our experts, who can give guide you on the best route forwards for your business.