Bikmo’s David George on COVID-19, industry trends and protecting the world’s cyclists

BikeBiz catches up with David George, CEO of the specialist cycling insurer Bikmo

Can you give us a little background on Bikmo?
Bikmo is a specialist bike insurance company and our mission is to protect the world’s cyclists. We’re a team of passionate riders from racers to commuters and are obsessed with enabling our customers to spend more time on two wheels.

We create comprehensive insurance products that are ultra-simple to buy and manage online and can protect riders of all types without the need for hundreds of options.

Coming into our tenth year in the UK cycling sector, we’re as passionate as ever about working directly with local bike dealers to provide repair and replacement services and now insure over £80 million worth of bikes for UK cyclists.

Alongside our direct business, we partner with the best brands and organisations in the cycling world to support their customers and members including British Cycling, Brompton, Cyclescheme, Pure Electric and Deliveroo.

We believe business should be a force for good and certified as a BCorp in 2019. As part of a global network of leaders using business to effect positive change, we are committed to helping as many people as possible experience the benefits cycling offers to society and the wider environment.

What trends have you observed this year, and how have they been influenced by COVID?
We saw a dip in sales during late March/April during lockdown which was then replaced by higher than forecast policy sales, increasing 240% from April-June, which has sustained for the rest of 2020.

However, we work with a large number of independent retailers for claims repair and replacement and have felt their same frustrations with stock levels and longer lead times due to demand being so high. Hopefully, this will be a good nudge to the industry to shorten lead times, making anyone involved in the trade to be able to respond to peaks in demand and get more people onto bikes.

The main increase we’ve seen is less in the enthusiast sector and more in new or returning cyclists choosing to get back on their bikes and invest in a new ride, in order to avoid using public transport and stay fit whilst restrictions are in place. In support of partners, including Cyclescheme and the increase in the Cycle to Work scheme limits, we launched our new e-bike cover in 2020 which has been one of our strongest areas of growth and something we expect to continue into 2021.

And, of course, our travel insurance product went from thousands of sales to single digits as restrictions were put in – thankfully this represents only a small part of our business.

What feedback have you had from within the industry?
The main discussion point has been stock – it’s been great for IBDs to drop discounting as demand peaked but that was quickly replaced by stock challenges. We’ve also experienced this as a team with indoor training equipment, especially smart trainers, being out of stock.

Partnering with British Cycling, we’ve been acutely aware of the impact COVID has had with riders wanting to compete but being unable to, and event organisers being hit. We’re hoping the vaccines will come in fast enough to have a strong 2021 for events and experiences, as well as cycle retail.

The biggest observation has been in the increase in the number of personal leasing/hire schemes, including servicing/insurance etc which we expect to grow into 2021. It’s been tried a few times before and is working particularly well within the kids’ sector so we expect this to continue in the coming years, especially with regards to e-bikes.

What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?
We have a simple mission to protect the worlds’ riders and 2021 will see the next evolution of that. We have a relaunch planned for the first half of the year, including new technology and insurance products to support riders and partners alike. New commercial products are also in the pipeline to help protect the cycling sector and get more people riding.

We’re still committed and on track to achieve our target of putting £10 million back to independent retailers by 2023 as part of our sustainability commitments, and will hit net zero by March 2021.

On a personal level and lockdown permitting, I’m building up towards new challenges and revisiting old ones including Flanders, a Transalp MTB route and more time on gravel. Bring on the vaccines!

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