Local Compulsory Cycling Liability Insurance Provides Financial Protection For Bikers | Item


Warrant Officer Albert Newbourn, assigned to the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, commutes by bike May 26 at Camp Zama. Liability insurance is mandatory for owners of bicycles of all ages when circulating in Kanagawa Prefecture, following a safety ordinance passed by the prefectural government in 2019.
(Photo credit: Noriko Kudo, US Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs)


CAMP ZAMA, Japan (June 1, 2021) – Third party liability insurance is mandatory for owners of bicycles of all ages when circulating in Kanagawa Prefecture, following a safety ordinance passed by the prefectural government in 2019.

The liability insurance obligation includes Status of Forces Agreement staff and their family members and applies to those living in Zama Camp and the Sagamihara Family Living Area, two facilities being located in Kanagawa.

Kanagawa Prefecture passed a Cycling Ordinance in 2019 to promote safe and appropriate bicycle use that includes mandatory registration for bicycle liability insurance, according to the Kanagawa Prefecture government website.

Compulsory insurance coverage is required for adult and child cyclists. This is intended to promote risk management and dispersal in bicycle accidents and property damage, said Maj.Anthony Osborne, the assistant judge advocate for personnel assigned to the U.S. military in Japan.

According to the KPG website, more than 5,000 bicycle accidents were reported in Kanagawa Prefecture last year. The website further states that the city of Sagamihara, in which Camp Zama partially resides, was responsible for a significant percentage of that number.

Perhaps most important for cyclists is financial assistance liability insurance if an accident were to occur and the cyclist was found to be at fault, Osborne said.

According to the KPG website, in one case an elementary school student who was cycling home at night struck a pedestrian. The woman suffered a fractured skull and went into a coma. Since the student did not have insurance, the student’s mother was held liable and required to pay approximately 95 million yen in damages, or approximately $ 873,000.

While there is no fine associated with runners who do not have insurance, there is a clear benefit to following the mandate and purchasing insurance, Osborne said.

“It’s possible to have a tax stamp to help bear the cost of liability if you’re in an accident,” Osborne said. “That’s what insurance is.”

For those who already have some sort of liability insurance that covers damage to life, physical integrity or property, they are encouraged to check the details and see if that coverage already includes their bike. Alternatively, you can purchase bike insurance at most convenience store electronic kiosks with the help of a friend or family member who can read Japanese.

Osborne said he purchased insurance last year at a “family plan” rate that cost only the equivalent of $ 40 per year.

“If you are riding a bike it is prudent to take out insurance and have the policy in place so that if you were involved in an accident you would have assistance to bear the costs,” Osborne said.

Having insurance helps minimize the risks of each rider and promotes the idea that SOFA members are good “ambassadors” to Japan, Osborne said.

More information on bicycle liability insurance can be found in the English rulebook on the KPG website here: https://www.pref.kanagawa.jp/documents/46139/rulebook-english.pdf.

Members of the community who have other questions regarding the policy can also call 262-7330.

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