When we were researching bicycle insurance recently here at TWC, we got a tweet from a reader suggesting we check out Cycle Syndicate. We thought it sounded like a great idea, so we thought we'd compile some information to get you informed about the company and what it could offer you.
The idea is sort of insurance in reverse: instead of paying a premium in case your bike is stolen, you get together with a group of people and agree to help pay for each others bikes if they are stolen. That means that you only pay when something bad has happened to someone in the group.
There are 'public' groups where you must know someone else in the syndicate to join – Facebook is used in this case to confirm if you are connected. Then there are private groups too: set up by companies for their office staff, for instance. These also use Facebook for login purposes (further login options may be added in the future, but currently this Facebook-only approach allows Cycle Syndicate to easily keep things secure).
[related_articles]This means that it works well for people in pre-existing groups, whether they are united by friendship, family, a cycling club, a team, or anything else. Cycle Syndicate director, Richard Aked, imagines the model will work best "within groups that trust each other."
"I've always been a keen cyclist and we felt that the cycling community has exactly the right mix of trust and forward-thinking to embrace this new approach.
"It doesn't hurt that cycling is in the midst of a massive growth spurt in the UK either," says Richard.
You pay a £10 membership fee and then if no one's bike is stolen that year, that's it. If someone's bike is stolen, then you'll chip in a percentage to get them riding again. The amount you chip in is directly proportional to the value of your bike.
An extreme example with round numbers: you have a £100 bike, but everyone else in the syndicate has a £1000 bike. 100 people are in the syndicate. If a member has their bike stolen you will pay £1.02, while everyone else will contribute £10.19.
This means that there is a chance that some years you will pay more into your syndicate that you would do for regular insurance. But one argument is that a group of people that know each other and who are relying on each other will be more likely to lock their bikes up safely and securely. This will, in turn, reduce the amount of thefts that happen in your syndicate, making it less likely that you'll have to pay out.
Cycle Syndicate act as a responsible middle man in all of this – they check the validity of claims, insist that a certain standard of lock is used, and arrange for payment to be taken from everyone in the syndicate via direct debit, and then sent to the victim of the crime (minus a 15% handling fee). The first syndicate started in November 2014, and the company are now "in the process of establishing private syndicates for the staff and members of a number of leading consultancies and cycling clubs in London."
We love this idea, and we think it's perfect for cycle clubs and offices. What do you guys think? Are you tempted to start a Cycle Syndicate?