Japan is seeing increased use of bicycles amidst a national fitness boom, although it has led to more accidents, serious injuries and even deaths. A series of court rulings have ordered substantial pay-outs when pedestrians get killed or are seriously injured in accidents and insurance plays a significant role in helping bicycle users shoulder such financial costs.
This has led to more local governments introducing regulations to compel bicycle riders and rental companies to purchase liability insurance according to a report from Kyodo News.
However, such regulations carry no penalties and experts have emphasised that cyclists need to have greater awareness on the importance of insurance
As of the end of November this year, 11 prefectures as well as seven designated major cities made it mandatory for bicycle users to get insurance. Meanwhile, 13 prefectures and three major cities had regulations recommending insurance coverage without making it mandatory.
Casualty insurers in the country offer policies including those that can be purchased for several hundred yen per month or thousands of yen per year. These can pay indemnities worth hundreds of millions of yen.
Based on a survey conducted by Au Insurance, the national average ratio of cyclists having liability insurance stood at 56% in the period from December last year to February 2019.