slowster wrote:The point of buying insurance is peace of mind that there will be cover if the worst happens, so if my planned tour included such off road cycling, then I would select the cross country mountain biking option and pay the higher price. Alternatively you could contact the insurers and ask for clarification of the issue before going on your holiday.
I could, but doubt that I'd get a sensible answer from the call-centre or chat-person, who will have no appreciation of the differences between the two uses of a MTB their employer is wisely differentiating between. It's useful to ask questions, but only as a short-cut to the appropriate part of the small-print, which these people know like the backs of their hands. But further than that, their script will not allow them to tread. When the questions get deeper, their script will doubtless tell them to suggest the higher cover. So I'm not going to delve any deeper, because I doubt that I'll get a better-infomed answer than I can from reading the small-print myself.
My point is, most insurances tar all use of a mountain-bike with the same danger-sport brush, so that even if you're using a mountain-bike as a touring bike, you can't be sure you're covered. This insurer apparently knows enough about cycle-touring not to do that. I would go so far as to suggest they realise that the kind of cycle-tourist (A) who uses a modified MTB and diverts onto bridleways rather than ride on horribly hazardous A-roads, is much less likely to cost them a very expensive medical emergency than (B) who uses what I call a 'de-tuned racing bike' and is wedded to tarmac! So the last thing they want to do is discourage type (A) from buying their cover.
As for what constitutes a "cycle path": UK traffic law does not define that term, but calls a purpose-made off road cycle path a 'cycle-track', whilst UK access law gives cycles a right-of-way on byways and paths designated as bridleways, so legally any of those could be called a cycle path.
As for 'Cross Country' neither does that term have any legal definition, but the words would surely suggest (to the "man on the Clapham omnibus" beloved of lawyers) no path at all, but ploughing one's own fresh furrow across the country! Technically the term describes a particular kind of MTB racing, that does follow a designated path, that is designed to challenge the rider with obstacles. And more commonly (but only amongst cyclists) it describes a similar kind of riding just for fun, on the same kinds of paths at trail centres and also public bridleways etc.
Overlap between these two activities occurs when the traffic-avoiding tourist finds himself on a bridleway that is more difficult than he wants, and the cross-country MTBer has to use a 'boring' fire road to get from one bit of knarly singletrack to the next.
I am not going to pay the twice as high insurance premium demanded by the latter activity because I will not knowingly include any really difficult bridlepaths in my itinerary, the mostly road and normal touring nature of which the record of my ride thus far on Strava will confirm. So if I do come to grief on an unexpectedly difficult bit, it will be clear enough that I didn't go looking for trouble (like a cross-country MTBer does), but that trouble found me. Which is what you buy insurance for after all.
Admittedly, there's still a tiny risk that this insurer might worm out of paying up in that extremely rare eventually. But life is not devoid of risk. All one can do is take reasonable precuations. I don't think paying double for extra cover I'm so very unlikely to need is reasonable. You may think otherwise and that is your prerogative.