For the time being, Dutch insurer ANWB will stop ensuring fat bikes, electrically powered bicycles with thicker tires. The insurer says it is doing so because of the “extremely high” number of stolen fat bikes.
The financial damage recovered from insurance has now risen to 800% of the premium, says ANWB. “This is not bearable and, therefore, we have to intervene,” the insurer says. After Kingpolis, ANWB thus becomes the second insurer in the Netherlands to stop intervening for consumers’ financial damages in case of fat bike theft.
Some 10 000 fatback insurance policies are currently in place at ANWB. You might say lucrative for the insurance company, but apparently, it turns out differently in this case.
According to ANWB, in some parts of the Netherlands and especially in large cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht, the theft sensitivity of the hip fat bike is such that it is not a question of if but when the bike will be stolen. Especially well-organized gangs from Eastern Europe are said to be active in that area, according to the De Telegraaf newspaper.
Bypassing compulsory helmet wearing
For the reasons behind the fat bike’s popularity, especially among young people, one does not have to look far. Since the beginning of this year, wearing a helmet has been compulsory on a motorcycle in the Netherlands. This does not apply to the fat bike. Moreover, you don’t need a driving license either.
But you can sit on it with two people, and the hip look with the wide tires does the rest. Moreover, fat bikes are very stable and, unlike mountain bikes, can also handle rougher terrain more easily, and they can also handle more weight.
Boosting the speed
An additional problem for insurers in the Netherlands is that many owners often also make technical modifications to the bike, which carries a price tag of 2 000 to 2 500 euros. They increase the speed by installing a throttle, boosting the fat bike, or both.
Such modifications increase the risk of an unsafe traffic situation. As a result, the bikes, which already have a robust frame, acquire even more of the characteristics of a motorcycle and are not allowed on public roads without a license plate.
Moreover, not all fat bikes are of equally good quality. Most fat bikes also enter Europe directly from China but are not yet suitable for use on public roads in the Netherlands.
Often no lock
Because accidents with such motorbikes are not insured through the driver’s liability insurance, they can have a significant financial impact on ANWB. Just slowing down that trend is also one of the reasons why the insurer is discontinuing fat bike insurance.
The fat bike also has no ring lock, the kind of lock fitted as standard on most bikes in the Netherlands, because it does not fit due to the thick tires. Many youngsters are reluctant to lug around with a special folding lock or chains when they go out with their bikes and often do not use a track-and-trace system.
From 6 September, ANWB will no longer take out new insurance policies for fat bikes. Existing customers with insurance cannot renew the contract once it expires.
However, ANWB will investigate whether fat bikes can still be insured somehow. This involves considering security and storage requirements and an appropriate premium.