Cycling liability/insurance - what are your views?


Maximum Pace
Dec 4, 2006
Got a question to the group re bike collision and insurance... The little I know, there's no collision insurance for bikes - not covered by auto, home, or other types of insurance... yet you are considered a vehicle. Also no "umbrella type" policies like we have in the states.. I hear this can get pretty ugly if the other person in a bike vs bike/pedestrian wants to. Is this everyone's understanding as well?


Maximum Pace
I have some kind of cycling insurance with my auto insurance, but I'm pretty sure it's just injury coverage, with no liability coverage.

February Cycle Sports actually had an acticle on this. These companies have varying forms of "Bicycle General Insurance", with limited liability protection (up to 100 million yen):

Sonpo Japan
Kyoei Fire and Marine
Aioi Insurance
Nisshin Fire & Marine Insurance

Also, the Japan Cycling Association offers insurance to members with 10 million yen liability. I'm actually considering joining mostly for this reason.

Note that the coverage goes from when you sign up to the end of that fiscal year, so it's probably worth waiting to April 1st before joining...


Speeding Up
Feb 15, 2007
Damages awarded?

Note that the coverage goes from when you sign up to the end of that fiscal year, so it's probably worth waiting to April 1st before joining . . .
NOT if you are involved in an accident during March for which you are liable ;) . . . and you are as likely to be involved in an accident in March as any other month . . . so if you intend to buy the insurance (you recognize the risk) you should buy it today.

Is the risk real? Are there cases in Japan of people successfully suing a cyclist for damages? What are the amounts of damages that have been awarded?




Maximum Pace
Dec 4, 2006
Thanks Phil.. Will look into those....

Phillip.. I think most people work things out. The Tama thread reminded of a conversation I had policeman in Oifuto (the day the police came down on bikers running red lights) who half jokingly laid out a bike v pedestrian scenario... Short story is that we are considered vehicles, and the person/object damaged can expect same type of remedies (medical, lost wages, future pain/suffering, etc...).


Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
Kawaguchi, Saitama

The biggest problem foreigners face in Japan is, when an accident does occur, who is in the "right", and who is in the "wrong"?
The laws regarding "right of way" in western countries are very clear - If there's an accident whereby one driver/rider goes through a stop-sign without stopping, that person is 100% liable.
The rule over here though seems to be "KEEP THE PEACE! No matter what".
That means, even though the opposite party may be 100% responsible for causing an accident (usually out of plain negligence), the authorities will do their utmost to make both parties take 50% of the responsibility each - even if you've done nothing wrong.
This grates very much on the sensibilities of westerners who believe in the "black/white - right/wrong - left/right" mode of justice.
It just doesn't work that way over here - Even when it is 100% clear that the other party is at fault, the police will say, "Well, if you hadn't ACTUALLY been there at that time, the accident would not have occurred! Isn't that right, sir?". And the police will not let you go until you concur with their conclusion that your actual existence was half the cause of the accident - You will be forced to take 50% of the responsibility, because "YOU WERE THERE!"
And that half - whether you were riding cautiously or not - is your responsibility.
It's like being proven (half) guilty for being at the scene of a crime that someone else committed.


Maximum Pace
Is the risk real? Are there cases in Japan of people successfully suing a cyclist for damages? What are the amounts of damages that have been awarded?
Damages aren't the high-profile business they are as, say, in the States, and settlements are in general not so high, but in just about every accident money will change hands. There's a process involved; it begins with the offending party making multiple hospital visits to the injured party, letters of apology, negotiations between mediators (police, appointed arbitrators, mutually trusted individuals, or, even, lawyers), and ends with a payment of some kind. I understand that it rarely goes as far as the courts, although I don't have any statistics to prove it...

And I agree with Travis that the blame is rarely 100-0; the police generally find at least SOME fault for everyone.

Purely anecdotal, but one story I know: foreigner on bike is going through an intersection (riding on sidewalk) when he is hooked by a car turning right. He discolates his shoulder, the car drives on. The latter later claims he wasn't aware of the accident. The police eventually assign 80-20 blame. The 20% to the cyclist was because he should have been more attentive and gone through the intersection at a speed that would have allowed him to avoid the accident.
Jan 14, 2007
I had a bicycle hit my car about 2.5 years ago and he in any other ocuntry he would have been 100% at fault.
I had to take 80% of the blame...for insurance purposes....

So if any of you ever get hit by a car in Japan and even if you are at fault demand the 80/20 rule in your favour.

Roads were made for cyclists not for cars...

On the recieving end 7 years ago I was hit while riding my moped... We were given 50/50...the police were very rude to me in that caes and I went to the police station 2 weeks later and gave them a lecture..however reversing the decision was going to mean a court case and I didn't have the time for that...

The car that hit me was on the wrong side of the road for starters....
Jan 14, 2007

You mentioned that your club has insurance. What company are you using?

I'll try and find out.., can never remember. I just pay at my SEO shop once a year. 3000yen now. I pay 12000 for the whole family.
I don't get any paperwork or receipt..which sounds a bit stupid.

If we have an accident we just contact the shop (who I'm in contact with 2 days a week through trainings anyway).
A few guys in our club have had accidents commuting to work and claimed on it.
We have over 200 members in our club and everybody seems happy with it.

We also probably have a special rate/cover due to the numbers involved.

I'd advertise it more here but it seems like a special deal for our club only.
The company maybe Tokyo Marine but maybe not. :rolleyes:


Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
Don't want to bump this thread for nothing, but just found out about this new insurance by Sumitomo, which you can practically customize to your liking. Via a calculator it is possible to get an insanely cheap rate (starting at 110Yen a month), that might be useful if all you are looking for is representation.
Also police price does not rise very much for the couple/family option.

In terms of cost:benefit for an individual, the Japanese Cycle Association membership still looks better if you are willing to pay 4000Yen a year.


Speeding Up
Oct 9, 2008
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Is the risk real? Are there cases in Japan of people successfully suing a cyclist for damages? What are the amounts of damages that have been awarded?
I don't have any facts, but we have heard on this forum about cases where pedestrians took a cyclist's right of way, got hit, and lashed out at the cyclist. I would think the risk of getting asked for damages from a pedestrian or another cyclist is much higher than from a motorized driver (who is bound to have insurance).

I have signed up with the JCA. The coverage seems decent. They just informed me some of the conditions will change and would post details in January.

Half-Fast Mike

Lanterne Rouge-et-vert
May 22, 2007
A couple of real-life examples, if anyone's interested.

Osaka, 1998: A 68 year-old woman on the sidewalk at a junction waiting for the lights to change. 17-year-old youth, not paying attention, crashes into her and knocks her down. Breaks her femur,resulting in 'level 8' long-term disability. She was awarded 18,000,000 yen damages (including interest compounded until such time as the cyclist became a wage-earner).

Yokohama, 2005: A 54 year-old female nurse, walking along a municipal road at night. 16-year-old schoolgirl cyclist, no lights, texting on her phone, crashes into the nurse. Long-term nerve damage to arms and legs. Difficulty walking. Had to give up working. Awarded 50,000,000 yen damages.

This one's nothing to do with cycling; I had a car accident in February. I was fine but the guy on the scooter... his helmet wasn't fastened (surprise!) Scalp injuries are VERY messy. Fortunately he was young and strong and made a full recovery. (Tip - if you're going to crash into anyone, crash into a first aid instructor!) My insurance company covered all his medical costs and loss of earnings - it came to almost 2 million yen. Could easily have been much, much more.


Maximum Pace
While this thread is bumped, I should probably correct some of my own misinformation above:

The police don't assign % blame, it is the insurance companies that do that during the settlement negotiations. The police simply report on the accident and make a decision about issuing tickets/filing charges.

Anyway, for 2011 I joined Audax Japan so have their insurance, although at 8000 yen this year it is no longer a deal.
Jan 14, 2007
Our club insurance went up in price this year due to the increased number of cycling accidents in Japan and the number of claims that have obviously increased....

Rather than re-sign at 5000 yen per year per member of our family of 4, the club suggested I go with 7/11 insurance which is much cheaper per family and has better payouts...

4760 yen each or 11720 for a family...

register online, print off the application, take it to a 7/11 and pay at the counter.



Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
Setagaya, Tokyo
Sounds like a good deal!

Last November I joined Audax Japan, so I'm also covered for the year. At 8000/year, if I ride 4 brevets (which normally cost 1000 yen extra for insurance for non-members) I basically pay 4000 yen for year round coverage for all my other rides.