On the list of things I didn’t see coming this Friday afternoon was Strava announcing that if you manage to kill your bike computer or phone while riding your bicycle, Strava will now pay get that device fixed or replaced. Well, technically not Strava, but a company they’ve partnered with. And technically not everyone on this small planet, just Strava Premium members. And only a portion of the planet. And only sometimes, if in the right moon phase and tidal conditions. But those are…well…just technicalities.
So let’s dig into a bit more of what they announced, as it’s actually kinda interesting. Or at least, interesting to me as one who semi occasionally kills things in often a bad way. Usually in a really bad way.
First up, there’s a bunch of stuff in today’s announcement (Side note: Why announce a cool thing on a Friday afternoon? Isn’t the rule to only announce uncool things on Friday afternoons?), but the most interesting one is a partnership with an insurance company called ‘Sundays Insurance’.
The main portion of this announcement is a new Strava Premium membership ‘Perks’ page, which lists all sorts of deals for Strava premium memberships. We’ve seen Strava do cycling and running partnerships and giveaways and such for some time, but this is a specific section of deals that only Premium members can take advantage of. Some of them aren’t fully filled out yet, but it’s a start.
In any case, there’s one about the insurance that I mentioned, and in that section it specifically calls out a pile of benefits:
– $50 reimbursement for travel as the result of an accident or mechanical breakdown
– Free race-entry reimbursement for runners
– Device coverage and discounts on bike
– Travel, life and health insurance
Interesting. But that got me curious, what are the limitations here?
Clicking from there I land on a dedicated Strava authentication page at Sunday’s Insurance, bringing me here:
Interestingly, it’s identical to all the other ways you can ‘Connect’ an app with Strava. That’s nice and seamless. Down below is a bit more detail on those previously noted perks:
Pretty straightforward, minus all the exceptions. So let’s run through those on Sundays Insurance site more clearly:
A) Only people in the US, UK, or Australia need apply (basically, Strava’s three biggest markets)
B) If in the US and you live in about a quarter of the country, you don’t get jack (states listed above)
C) Travel, life, and health insurance mentioned on Strava’s page are actually not included here at all, that’s down further if you want a separate quote and want to pay money. Apparently Strava KOM’s don’t get you anything here.
Otherwise, so far so good. Sure, some state-based exclusions, but such is life in the insurance legal world. Though the last one is a bit misleading to have it listed on the Strava page but not actually be a benefit.
The Devil’s in the Details:
Before I got signed up, I decided to take a gander at the terms and conditions – the PDF that’s included. There’s one linked for the US, UK, and Australia listed from the Strava page. Because I’m most familiar with the US side of things, I’m going to analyze that. If anyone wants to do the same for the UK/Australia side of things, feel free to post down below in the comments!
I’m going to go line by line on the relevant sections. Some stuff isn’t interesting/relevant/concerning, so I’ll skip that. First up, the device replacement:
“Sundays will arrange a repair or reimbursement, as set forth herein, if your Device is damaged as the result of an Accident* while tracking your cycling activity on Strava’s platform. If your Device cannot be economically repaired, it will be replaced up to a value of $600.”
Ok, all straightforward there. I’ve (mostly) got no issues with that.
“The Device’s original purchase receipt must be provided to prove ownership and validate your entitlement to the PremiumPerks Program.”
While not a huge deal, make sure you have your receipt somewhere. If you buy an iPhone, this is pretty easy, but still, just be sure you’ve got this somewhere.
So let’s look at things that void this part of the deal:
“You will not qualify for the service if:
● Accidental damage is sustained while the device was not logged into Strava’s platform while a monitored cycling activity was in process when the event occurred.
● If your Device is stolen or accidentally or unintentionally lost.
● There is a breakdown or technical/performance failure of any kind not directly caused by an accident.
● Your Device is damaged as a result of accidentally coming into contact with any liquid.
● Your Device is older than 24 months at the time of the accident.
● The damage is cosmetic (does not impede functionality), including scratches and dents.
● The serial number has been tampered with in any way.
● You have already used this service within your membership period.
● You can’t provide proof of the damage sustained to your bicycle or of the medical treatment you received as a result of the Accident.”
That’s a boatload of complexity and ways for them not to put out (or pay out).
But, wait, what’s an ‘accident’? Don’t worry, here’s that for you:
“*Accident means: a bicycle impact or crash in which your bicycle is sufficiently damaged to be non-functioning without repairs and/or you need medical treatment; or an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause; a sudden, unforeseen and unintended event in which your bicycle is sufficiently damaged to be non-functioning without repairs and/or you need medical treatment as a result of which breakage or other damage to your Device occurs to the point where it needs to be functionally repaired or replaced.”
Ok, to summarize: An accident means that you or your bike breaks, and that one of you must need ‘repairs’.
But how does that apply to the device repair?
In a nutshell, this entire thing only counts if you manage to break your Garmin or phone while cycling while also breaking you or your bike. If you just dropped your phone, no nuggets for you.
Well, but wait…there’s more!
“An $85 deductible will be imposed for damage to the Device resulting from an Accident, on any component of the Device.”
That there’s what we call a bit of an ‘FU’.
Well because it’s roughly the same cost that Garmin will assign for most device out of warranty replacements. It’s also roughly the same cost as the AppleCare ($99 – using an iPhone as an example), which basically covers you doing just about anything to your device, no need to break yourself or your bike first.
But hold on…there’s even more fine print up there:
“Accidental damage is sustained while the device was not logged into Strava’s platform while a monitored cycling activity was in process when the event occurred.”
So this is a funny one. I went back to Strava’s PR team to get clarification on this, specifically because if you ride with a bike computer, then technically you aren’t actually logged into Strava’s platform. That’s actually not how it works today in real-life technical terms. You can have your activity sync afterwards (Garmin/Wahoo/Everyone), but there’s no (zero) real-time connection (despite it being called ‘Live Segments’). The only device that has a real-time connection to Strava is the smartphone app.
(Nitpickers corner: Behind the scenes Garmin can actually initiate a connection to Strava Beacon on Garmin devices, but that’s not what’s being talked about here.)
Smelling funny fish, I went back to Strava on this and was told by Strava that:
“It’s for any device (smartphone or GPS) that is using Strava to record an activity when the accident occurs. It will cover up to $600 for the repair or replacement cost of the damaged device.“
Looking at the terms and conditions here, they do extend this to any device, but the terms contradict themselves and Strava a bit.
“The PremiumPerks Program is available to “smartphones,” tablets and GPS devices used to track and log onto the Strava platform’s online activities, provided that they have been activated (whether or not actually placed in service) for no longer than 24 months.”
How do they contradict itself you ask? Well again, you can’t actually log-on to Strava from any GPS device except a smartphone (requirement higher above). They just sync workouts after the fact (requirement below). Those two are at odds.
So if we take Strava’s word at face value, then we can assume that as long as you were recording an activity that you intended to upload, then you’re good? But what if the device is damaged such that you can’t prove you were recording (getting back to the ‘device was not logged into Strava’s platform while a monitored cycling activity was in process’ clause)? That would be Sundays definition of it.
I don’t know. But at this point we’d have to take it on face value that they’ll uphold the intent of what they say, even if the actual terms and conditions say they won’t do jack for you.
But before we finish off on the device piece here, there’s actually one final nugget in this:
“Sundays will not be liable under the following circumstances: If, through no fault of Sundays, your device is not repairable or replaceable.”
Umm…ok. I hope they’re not going to pull any odd punches here.
So you won’t just give me the $600 then instead of replacing the device? I’d assume it’s pretty hard to find a phone that’s worthwhile that’s not replaceable, but still, it’s a weird item to have in there.
Less nebulous things:
Now there are two other benefits of this program that should be straightforward. The first is if you break-down while riding and need to get a taxi or similar back home, they’ll cover up to $50 of that. And the second is if doing a running event and you cancel, then they’ll refund up to $100 for the fees.
Let’s look at the taxi one first.
“Sundays will also arrange reimbursement of reasonable transportation costs of a licensed auto service (e.g., taxi, Uber, Lyft, etc.) for you and your bicycle, up to $50, to the nearest public transport station, bicycle repair shop or your home, as you choose, as a result of an Accident that prevents use and mobility of the bicycle or the mechanical breakdown of the bicycle.”
If we refer to ‘accident’ above, it means either you or your bike is broke. I initially assume that a flat tire without spares would technically qualify, since it makes the bike ‘broke’ and requires “repairs” (the exact word they use), but more on that in a second.
Here are the caveats:
You will not qualify for this Cycling Transportation Reimbursement service if:
● The event occurs within 1.5 miles of your home.
● A breakdown is a result of flat tires or punctures (unless the tire is visibly cut and cannot be repaired by replacing a tube).
● The claim is for a journey further than the nearest public transport station, bicycle repair shop or your Home.
● When there are local recovery/repair facilities reasonably available.
● More than one claim per period is submitted.
● You can’t provide us with the receipt for the trip.
● You can’t provide us with location details of your accident or breakdown site and destination.
So, most of these seem pretty reasonable, except these two caught my eye:
– A breakdown is a result of flat tires or punctures (unless the tire is visibly cut and cannot be repaired by replacing a tube).
– More than one claim per period is submitted.
It sounds like they think flat tires are totally fixable and your fault. Totally fixable…perhaps, but not necessarily numerous ones. I can agree with a single flat tire being your fault to be unable to address it with a kit, but as one who has managed to get three flats…during a race…I’d beg to differ.
Either way, I do appreciate the general idea here – and this is great for things like a broken chain or other mechanical situation.
What though is a ‘period’? Glad you asked:
“Your Strava Premium Membership allows for each free service described to be used once per Strava membership term/Premium Perks Program period.”
So whenever your Strava membership renews, that’s one period for the next 12 months.
Next, the running benefit:
“Sundays will arrange reimbursement of up to $100 for a running event entry fee if the event involves your logging in on the Strava platform and you can’t participate in the running event as a result of verifiable illness or acute injury for which formal medical treatment is required (a visit to a certified doctor or a hospital). The reimbursement claim will only be processed after the event date.”
First of all, what the bloody f does it even mean to say “the event involves your logging in on the Strava platform”? Seriously, who the hell even wrote this line? Surely someone at Strava read through this, right? How on earth do you login to the Strava platform while running an event that you can’t run? Or is it the intent to do so?
Why even bother have this in there? Of course you’d intend to upload your run. And if not, who the heck cares…because you can’t run it. In unrelated news, I intended to fart tomorrow and log it on Strava.
Here’s the more detailed terms of this though:
“You will not qualify for this Running Event Entry Fee Reimbursement service if:
● You can’t provide us with a medical certificate/letter from a certified medical practitioner confirming your illness or acute injury and that you can’t participate in the event.
● You can’t supply us with the relevant medical practitioner’s contact information to verify the medical certificate.
● You are eligible to receive a refund from the event.
● You are allowed to sell/transfer your entry to another participant.
● Any conditions, injuries and or Illness existed or were sustained prior to you engaging in activities covered under this PremiumPerks Program.
● You obtained a medical certificate and still participated in the event.”
Most of these are pretty straightforward, except this one:
“Any conditions, injuries and or Illness existed or were sustained prior to you engaging in activities covered under this PremiumPerks Program.”
This is a wonky one. I believe it’s trying to say that if you sign-up today, and you broke your leg yesterday that you don’t get any love for your race tomorrow. But it’s written in such a way that’s needlessly confusing because it doesn’t actually use the words sign-up. Instead, it uses the word ‘engaging in activities’.
Given that the ‘activities’ you were engaging in were running because you were training for the running event it’s protecting, and that’s the entire point of using Strava here, isn’t that…oh hell, I don’t know.
Now, it may seem I’ve torn things apart here a bit. And, to some degree I have. Which isn’t to say there isn’t some goodness in here for you – there certainly is.
If you break a chain on a ride, then yes, you’ll likely get $50 back to get yourself and your bike home. That’s cool!
And if you break your leg while training for that half-marathon, then you’ll likely get $100 back as a bit of a ‘Sorry, better luck next time!’. So yes, that’s cool too (minus your broke-ass leg)!
And finally, if you crash your bike in a bad way and manage to really screw up your phone (but not because you fell into a pond, because water damage isn’t included), then you’ll get your phone replaced or fixed (less the $89 deductible).
All three of these are great gestures and cool ways for Strava to provide value for their premium members
But at the same time, Strava and their provider shouldn’t be let off the hook for language that’s ambiguous and technically impossible to achieve. This benefit isn’t about protecting you from dropping your phone while you ride, or if your phone or Garmin falls off your handlebars, rather, it’s about crashes. Strava’s pages and press release pretend that it’s any “accidental damage” they cover, whereas Sunday’s Insurance pages are far more clear that it’s a bike crash. Sunday’s wants your blood (for realz).
Of course, I’m more interested in seeing how these are actually implemented in real life – not only in the US, but also in the UK and Australia.
On one hand, this is effectively a ‘free’ benefit. It took me 7 more seconds to click the authorize button and confirm my name and a valid state. But at the same time, nothing is free in life, especially in a business. The goal here for Strava is to get you to subscribe to Strava’s Premium membership. While the goal here for Sunday’s Insurance is to get you to then buy insurance for your bicycle or any number of other things. They even provide a handy link to that as soon as you confirm your details.
Still – I like seeing Strava think outside the box, and I think these partnerships do exactly that (even if the implementation initially is questionable). In order for Strava to be successful in the long run, they have to turn a profit, and finding ways to convince you to pay for a membership is a core part of that. For some people, this and the other perks today may more than pay for themselves in short order.
With that – thanks for reading and have a good weekend!