Don’t Drink and Bike

This post is part of a series sponsored by

Deaths of intoxicated cyclists is a “significant problem,” according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. They found that these fatalities haven’t declined as much as those of drunk drivers over the years.

More than one-fifth of bicyclists killed in crashes are impaired by alcohol. They’re also more likely to be riding without a helmet, a contributing factor to bicyclist deaths.

Biking while drunk might seem harmless. How much damage can one bike cause?

Take this real-world case from my files and see what you think.

Derek rode his bike to work every day, mainly for the exercise. One Friday afternoon after a difficult project was completed, he and his coworkers decided a happy hour was in order.

After a few drinks, he decided he better ride home before he lost the daylight. As he was cycling out of town, he ran a red light in front of Heather.

Swerving to avoid him, she collided with another car and sustained a variety of complex injuries, which resulted in decreased mobility and motor function. She was unable to return to work as a university mathematics professor for several months.

Claim: $925,000

How can an umbrella help?

Heather’s medical bills quickly exhausted the minimum coverage offered by Derek’s renters insurance, so she had no choice but to sue him for reimbursement, incurring legal fees paid in advance, out of her own pocket.

Because Derek didn’t have significant assets, he declared bankruptcy, putting Heather back to square one. Burdened by debt, unable to work and without compensation for lost wages, she too was forced to declare bankruptcy.

Rewriting the story

If Derek had a personal umbrella policy, it would have covered the gap left by the underlying policies to take care of Heather’s lost wages and medical bills.

No car? No problem. Today, some companies (like mine) do not require underlying auto to offer an umbrella — renters or homeowners is fine. Be sure to ask your carrier.

Identifying details in this story have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

About Daina Kawchack Smith, Chief Marketing Officer,

Daina Kawchack Smith is a respected leader in the field of personal umbrella insurance. With over 23 years of experience in the insurance industry, Daina brings a breadth of experience to help agents grow by sharing innovative ideas. Before being named chief marketing officer at, Daina was an independent agent, CSR and an underwriter for a Fortune 500 wholesaler. She is a licensed Nevada agent and holds a CISR designation. More from Daina Kawchack Smith, Chief Marketing Officer,