Motorcycle insurance

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When you've checked out the rest of this feature, come back here and see if we missed anything




Helpful links

Motorcycle insurance feature main page

Insurance cover notes

Self insurance for motorcyclists

Insurance company rip-offs

Insurance underwriters

How to get the best motorcycle
insurance rates

Motorcycle insurance excess

Where you live matters to insurers

Where do you keep your bike at night?

Motorcyclists' occupations

What bike are you riding?

Annual mileage makes a big difference

Compare motorcycle insurance

UK motorcycle insurance

broker list


This list isn't exhaustive. There are plenty of other firms, and we're not recommending any of them. Neither is this list in any particular order. But our general experience is that ALL these firms need to sharpen their pencils as far as customer service is concerned, not least with regard to the speed with which they answer the calls and the time it takes to process a quote. These guys are among the better known players.












Motorcycle insurance rejected claim


Remember your lies ...


...because your insurance broker probably will. And we're not suggesting that you should lie. But in the real world, there are truths, and then there are insurance truths. Everyone knows that, including the insurance industry.

But if you tell a lie and later make a claim, there's a chance that some eagle-eyed or eagle-eared suspicious assessor will dig into the archive, resurrect the original telephone tapes and listen to what you said.

One or two inconsistencies might not see your payout rejected. But if you hit the wrong note over and over again, you could receive a letter in the post telling you that your claim has been rejected.

After that, you can go to the insurance ombudsman or court and thrash it out. Or you can accept the broker's decision. Naturally, it depends on whether your claim is big or small, and whether or not you're really telling lies or have just made a series of elementary mistakes, and it depends on how stubborn you are.

And remember this, if you have a claim rejected, that will quite probably impact on you further down the line. If you fight it out, make sure you win.


My other car is a motorcycle


Does also owning a car affect your motorcycle quote?


Yes it does. If you have only a motorcycle, the insurer assumes that this will be your prime mode of transport. So come rain, shine, hail or snow, you could be out and about on your wheels. You might be riding more often at night. You might be toting luggage. You might be riding when tired, or angry, or when in a hurry. Or on muddy country roads. Or oily city streets. And bikers, on average (but only on average) are more likely to be killed or injured than a car driver.

So ownership of a car suggests that you've got options when the weather comes down hard, or when you're doing the weekly shopping, or whatever.

Therefore, should you buy a cheap car to cut your bike premiums? Probably not; at least, not unless you motorcycle premiums are, for some reason, prohibitively high.

But maybe it makes sense in your particular case. So run some numbers. The main thing is, a bike policy will generally be significantly cheaper if you've got four alternative wheels.




Modified bikes and insurance

Quite simply, motorcycle insurance brokers don't like mods. The problem is that some changes are perfectly sensible, such as uprated brakes or revised suspension, but you could still end up paying extra. On the other hand, telling your broker that you've got "higher handlebars for comfort" won't necessarily make a difference, and then you're riding around with 21-inch ape-hangers.

In the future, it looks likely that riders of modified bikes will increasingly face higher premiums. The insurance industry figures that the manufacturer knows best, and that only fools muck around with the mechanics.

Therefore, if you're riding a chop, or cafe racer, or similar, you're best advised to shop around carefully for a specialist broker. You might get a good deal from a mainstream firm, but it's not likely.

Just look for an insurer who advertises a specific interest in such bikes. But DON'T accept their quote at face value. Like all businesses, they'll try to get the highest price possible.

As with the ape-hanger comment above, if you must tell a broker about a modification, be very careful how you couch it. You can easily walk yourself into a very large hike just by being careless with your mouth.

So tell your broker, for instance, that for the MOT you've recently replaced the rear shockers with EU approved items rather than mention that you've fitted X-Brand's Macho Kustom Killer shocks.

Or tell your broker that you've recently had the engine rebuilt with a new intake system, and say nothing specific about the nitrous kit.

Chances are that the call handler won't raise an objection to these kind of comments, but your admission will be on the tape if anyone wants to later argue about it.

Should we be advising you to play these kind of games? You tell us. Maybe we'll go to hell for it, but there are ways of telling the truth without spilling the beans. Just follow your conscience, and remember that insurance is often irrational and illogical for individuals, but is usually pretty accurate when aimed at society as a whole.

There's the rub.




Motorcycle insurance groups


So you want to know which insurance group your motorcycle belongs to, huh? Well that's not easy to say because different insurers see things differently,

Generally, the groups range from 3 to 17. The higher the number, the more it's likely to cost you. So a rare, top-flight sports bike (Ducati or similar) will probably hit 17, whereas a more humble 125cc commuter bike will normally be way down the bottom at around group 3 to 6.

Most of the others are anywhere in between with 250cc bikes pegged between group 6 and 10; 500cc bikes between 9 and 12; and 600cc - 1200cc machines at maybe 11 to 15. Or beyond.

There's plenty of overlap, and bikes are grouped differently by different underwriters, so it's not easy to compare like with like. And it isn't just the cubic capacity that affects the grouping. It's also the value of the bike; the type of bike; and the difficulty in getting spares. Accident stats for a given marque naturally plays a part.

Specifically, a Triumph Rocket Three is usually group 17. A Harley Fat Boy might be group 15 to group 17. A Suzuki Hayabusa is also usually group 17. A 600cc Suzuki Bandit is typically around group 11 to group 13.

Therefore, as a general rule, there's not too much point worrying about grouping. Just buy the bike that best suits your needs and budget. And factor in riding satisfaction. There's not much point in buying a motorcycle if it's just going to make you miserable or doesn't satisfy your requirements.

And remember that the groupings will change over time as new models appear on the market place and as new theft/accident data is programmed into the computers.

Yes, when talking to your broker you should ask in what group your machine appears. It might be useful intelligence and might give you another haggling tool, but for most riders it will probably simply be of academic interest.


Insurance firms want to pay out


Are we serious? We certainly are. The great myth is that insurance firms are happy to accept our premiums, but never want to settle a claim. However, that's a myth.

Insurance is a business, and in its way it's no different to how betting shops operate. Both businesss take risks, and they pay out when they lose the bet. But if they never pay out, they'd never get the business. Therefore, the trick is to have the right balance between monies coming in, and monies going out.

Honest customers are wanted and respected. The insurance firms run the risk numbers, work out odds, then take the bet. But when a customer comes along with a crooked hand to play, they don't like it. And they'll react accordingly.

How would you react?

In short, paying out is good for business. But that doesn't mean you won't get a stupid assessor who doesn't understand that fact. And it doesn't mean that some innocent behaviour on your part looks suspicious when viewed through the eyes of a suspicious man.

The best you can do is keep a record of everything pertinent to your insurance policy and claim. But don't start thinking that the industry is out to get you. They leave all that to passing motorists.

Motor insurance policy types


There are three basic insurance policy types for motorcyclists. What we're about to say is basic stuff. But there are always newcomers who need a little extra guidance, and you should never overestimate what the other guy knows. We've all got our blind spots.


1. Third Party. Everyone has to have this if they want to use the road. Everyone except cyclists and horsemen/horsewomen, that is.

In the language of motorcycle insurance, the First Party is the owner of the bike. Meaning you; the real or notional owner, and not the finance company (if applicable).

The Second Party is the insurance underwriter. That's who your insurance contract is with. Your broker simply acts as an agent in this regard, and all your primary communications should be with the broker.

The Third Party is the other guy in the street; i.e. the guy you run into, or who runs into you. Under UK law, you have to have Third Party Insurance if you ride on the road.


2. Third Party Fire & Theft. This type of policy covers you for damage to the "other" guy (or guys), or for fire damage to your vehicle, or for theft of your vehicle. Once upon a time it was the preferred choice of the majority of bikers. But not so now.


3. Fully Comprehensive. These days, riders are more apt to look for a "Fully Comp" policy. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, Fully Comp used to be very expensive, proportionately, and was bought only by the better heeled and/or seriously paranoid. But today, it's commonplace. Prices have come down a long way over the past 20 years, and you might not actually pay a lot extra for the cover. Fully Comp covers you for all risks including damage to your own bike if you drop it on a bend or something. And modern bikes can be very expensive to repair (unlike old classics that you could fix with a hammer and a tin of Hammerite paint.

Secondly, some insurers actually offer a cheaper policy when you ask for Fully Comp. Sounds daft, but many underwriters figure that people who protect against all risks are more level-headed, therefore they can be trusted more. Our advice is to first ask for a fully comprehensive policy quote, and work your way down from there if necessary.



Insurance cover note


Looking for motorcycle insurance? Who isn't? At least once a year, the timely renewals notification clunks on your doormat loaded with the latest monetary demand for bike insurance, car insurance, home insurance and/or life insurance. And when it does, you either dig into your wallet for more cash than last year or, if you've been behaving yourself and the fates have been kind to you, you discover that your premiums have actually reduced.


Then again, maybe this is your first time into the murky world of motorcycle insurance and you need some guidance.


Either way, this Sump feature is intended to unravel a few threads of the insurance industry and show you how that industry thinks, how it works, how it reacts, and how you can save a bob or two.


This feature isn't perfect, but what is? However, we're adding to it all the time, and we're updating information as and when we can, so come back sometime.

Meanwhile, if you've got any comments, insights, observations, objections or other expressions of complaints, fire off a loaded email. We're always looking to improve, and we're happy to fix things where and when we've screwed up.

Just hit the email button at the top of the page and say your piece, but not before you've read this feature end to end. Why? Because if your renewals letters are anything like ours, they'll be coming through at any moment...


Insurance cover notes


There was this insurance broker. He was a rogue, but a useful one. It was the 1970s; that golden age before mobile phones, home computers and the internet. If you couldn’t afford motoring insurance—perhaps because you were spending all your money on Levi jeans, or accessories for your motorcycle, or just boozing it up down the pub—you simply didn’t bother.

You just rode around until the coppers jerked your lead (which was a lot more likely then than it is today). Then they asked for your documents (insurance, MOT certificate, driving licence). Then you gave them a Mickey Mouse name and a Disneyland address. Or, if the coppers recognised you, you told them contritely that you’d left your documents at home or something, officer.

At that time, all the rozzers could do was issue a "produce note" aka "produce slip" aka" produce document". So, with the relevant paperwork in hand, you visited a nominated police station within seven days. Or maybe it was five back then. The memory fades, etc. [More...]


Harley-Davidson insurance scheme


Self insurance for motorcyclists


You’ve got to have motoring insurance. That is to say, you have to have at least third-party insurance. That's the law. But big firms and rich folk sometimes self insure. They post a suitable cash bond which commits them to paying accident costs should they cause damage or injury to a third-party (meaning the other guy). And naturally, they’ll repair any damage caused to themselves or their own vehicles. On the plus side, these guys don’t pay insurance premiums, as such, so if they don’t get involved in a crash, or a fire, or a theft, the insurance is effectively free.

Is self insurance really an option for the average person? Well, perhaps not quite the average. But plenty of people could self-insure if they were really so-minded. It would involve looking at all your insurance outgoings (motoring, home, health, travel, etc) and working out what your total insurance risk is. [More...]

insurance rip offs

Insurance company rip-offs


Most folk think that motoring insurance is a rip-off. The widespread belief is that all insurance firms are run by crooks operating cosy commercial cartels bent on fleecing the innocent motorist, motorcyclist, home owner, traveller, etc. But although there are frequent incidences of "sharp" or illegal practice, the industry generally plays a straight hand.

It has to, and that’s down to insurance regulators and market forces. The regulators closely monitor the industry and set some pretty tight ropes. There are numerous interested parties here including the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the Financial Ombudsman, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Chartered Insurance Institute. There’s plenty of cross-interest with these bodies. But broadly speaking, they’ve got the insurance industry surrounded.

And if there is outright fraud, there's always the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). [More...]



Insurance underwriters


So insurance companies all have deep pockets? No. Not necessarily, anyway. Some are operating on very tight margins. The way it works is that the guys or girls you talk to on the phone when hunting for a new quote are usually just customer service staff or telesales drones working for a brokerage. These brokerage firms don’t directly take any risk. Instead, they collect your raw data, punch it into a computer and look to see which underwriter is prepared to take you on.


This dates back to Lloyds of London (founded 1688), an organisation that insured ships trading in the colonies and elsewhere. Lloyds isn't an insurance company, take note. It's a marketplace. And in that marketplace, no single individual or institution could afford to shoulder the entire risk of a policy. So a group of individuals, or firms, shared that risk. The individuals, generally called "names" would issue a certificate of insurance and write their names under the policy title or heading, or under the ship name.

Hence "underwriter". [More...]


Best motorcycle insurance rates


How to get the best motorcycle insurance rates


The first option is to ask your friends. If they’re local to you, their insurance quotes will probably be more relevant than friends who live elsewhere. But don't count on it. Insurance is an inexact science. If your friends' bikes are essentially the same as yours, that will probably help too when making price assessments. And if your friends are in the same line of work or otherwise fit your demographic, that's also useful for comparison purposes.

However, your financial standing (County Court Judgements, bankruptcy history, general credit risk); legal standing (accrued licence points, recent convictions, pending convictions, etc); will have an impact. And if you’ve ever been refused insurance or been caught ripping off an insurance firm, you’re going to regret it when the new quote comes down the line. [More...]



Motorcycle insurance excess


Insurance excess


This is where you can save a lot of money. Insurance excess is simply how the industry relieves itself of the more trivial and frivolous claims. So, if you're riding a Vincent Twin, you certainly want the overall value of the bike covered. But if you bend the forks one day, you might be happy dealing with all, or some, of that yourself. So, you agree to pay the first £500 of any claim. And for a motorcycle, that's a significant excess.

Of course, fixing the forks might cost £1,000. Nevertheless, your insurer is liable only for half, and they'll probably be happy to pay seeing as you're taking direct responsibility for the rest of the money. And that should be reflected in your premium. [More...]


Motorcycle insurance map


Where you live matters to insurers


Your location is a major factor. If you live in a city, your premiums will normally be higher. Accident risk is generally greater in urban areas, so that will have a bearing. Theft is also generally higher in towns. And personally injury claims are generally higher in cities. But it goes the other way too, and you can’t really predict which firm is going to swing in which direction. That’s because the data upon which they’re basing their risk assessment is usually out of date. [More...]


Motorcycle parking for insurance


Where do you keep your bike at night?


Where you keep the bike at night is a significant factor when calculating your insurance risk. In your garage or shed is obviously good. In the street is not good. You can tell lies if you want, but in the event of a theft claim, an assessor might well come around and talk to neighbours or the local police/community service officers and ask where the bike was generally parked. That assessor might also quickly visit your home following a claim and check the garage. If it's full of furniture, he'll want to know why. [More...]


Occupations for motorcyclists


Motorcyclists occupations


Your occupation has a major effect on your insurance quote. At any one time, different jobs are considered more risky than others. Journalists, for instance, are often considered high risk. Why? Who knows? Maybe because journos tend to cover wars, or road test motorcycles, or spend too much time inside a bottle. But somewhere, in some computer memory bank, there's a black mark against members of the news media. Dangerous occupations mark you as a high risk to insurers. Dangerous occupations suggest that you're prepared to take risks than others won't. And yet, perversely, you might get a discount for being a police officer or a member of the military. [More...]


Motorcycle bikes insurance groups


What bike are you riding?


The make of bike, cubic capacity and power can make a big difference. But there are anomalies. A 750cc or 1,000cc British pushrod classic might well generate a higher quote than, say, a classic Japanese 250cc or 500cc two-stroke. We all know that the Jap bikes offer a more "hooligan" riding experience and are arguably more likely to end up bent.

But the computer is interested only in the fact that the seven-fifty, or thousand, has a greater cubic capacity. Simply put, someone with no specific knowledge of bikes programmed questionable information into the computer, and you’re paying for that ignorance. [More...]


Annual mileage for motorcycles


Annual mileage makes a big difference


Annual mileage is a major factor in insurance policies. The more you ride, the greater the risk. Then again, some insurers see it the other way. Regular riders, goes the logic, are more practiced and more competent on the road. Therefore, they’re safer. Therefore they pay less.

Ditto for age. Younger is generally riskier. But being significantly older can also carry a penalty. Owning a car and a motorcycle might well work in your favour (see elsewhere on this page), or it might work against you. Once again, when looking for quotes, you need to ask and pitch yourself accordingly. That’s not to say you should ever lie. But there are truths within truths, and how you present yourself to the computer can make a difference.

So you just have to accept whatever quote comes your way?

Not necessarily. If you think you’re getting a particularly lousy or irrational quote, remember that you can always ask to speak to the supervisors. These people are usually hovering around the insurance office dealing with queries that are beyond the remit and control of the sales staff, and these supervisors often have a fair amount of latitude. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they can ultimately override the whims of the computer. But they can usually tweak the discount numbers.





Classic bike dealers, engineers, mechanics and experts







Agreed value insurance


If you're riding any kind of special built, historic, rare or unusual motorcycle, you ought to consider taking our an agreed value insurance policy.

As the name implies, an "agreed value" means that in the event of fire or theft, your insurer will pay you a set value for your bike rather than the market value, which might well be the trade value rather than the retail value.

How it works is simple. You tell your broker what it is that makes your bike so special, then you take some snapshots and send them in, and your broker takes a look at the photographs and confirms that you'll be paid X-amount of dosh should the worst happen.

Sometimes, the policy will be agreed in principle before you take the pictures and send them in. But until your broker has actually received those image, the value won't be formally agreed. So you have to make sure that you follow through.

Most brokers will accept digital images. You should take at least one picture from each side (say, the front right-hand side looking back, and the rear left-hand side looking forward). If you've got any really special features such as engravings or a custom-built turbo set-up, you need to show that clearly, perhaps via another shot.

Not all insurers will offer an agreed value option. It really depends on the type of policy, the age of the bike, the type of bike, etc. Just remember that under normal circumstances, what you paid for the motorcycle will not be reflected in the accident, fire or theft pay out.

In other words, if you paid £5,000 and rode the bike for six months, your underwriter will figure that there's some depreciation there. Your underwriter might also feel that you paid above the market value, and the firm will be sure to look back at its records and check what you originally told them you paid for the vehicle.

Keep this in mind too. If you agree a value, you'll need to keep the bike in the same condition (or as near as damn it). And you'll probably need to send in refresher images each year. But if you drop the bike and make a claim, and if the assessor feels that the bike is significantly different to the one in the snapshots (notwithstanding the accident damage), they might refuse your claim.

Regarding those refresher images, you could do worse than photograph a current newspaper propped up by the front wheel or something, just to obviate later disputes about how old the pictures really were.


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