Guide To Motorbike Insurance
Motorbike insurance in the UK
Motorbike insurance is required by law in the UK for anyone who drives a moped or motorbike and it is intended to cover the costs of any motoring related damage or injuries. You are able to ride a moped on public roads within the UK from the age of 16. To ride a bike with an engine capacity over 50cc you must be 17 years of age or over. Learner motorcyclists need to have obtained a Compulsory Basic Training certificate (CBT) in order to validate a provisional licence, and they also have to clearly display L plates (or D plates in Wales).
It is worth noting that younger riders, scooter owners and bikers who have previous convictions or claims might be considered differently by insurers when it comes to calculating premiums.
What level of insurance cover do you need?
As for car insurance, motorbike insurance can be broken down into three levels: Third party only; third party fire and theft; and fully comprehensive.
Third party is the minimum level of motorbike insurance cover required to ride on the road in the UK. It is the most economical option as it only covers the damage caused to other vehicles by your motorbike in the event of an accident. If your bike is stolen, or is damaged in a crash that was your fault, you will not be covered.
Third party fire and theft covers you for damage caused to other vehicles by your motorbike in the event of an accident, and it also covers you if your bike is stolen, damaged or destroyed by a fire. It is worth considering this level of cover as theft presents a substantial risk to motorbikes.
A fully comprehensive policy will cover you for damage caused to third party vehicles, fire, theft and damage to you, your motorbike and property, even if that damage was your fault. However, you need to be aware that this will not provide insurance for absolutely everything. For example, it will not cover you in the event of a breakdown. Comprehensive cover is the most expensive option but can also be the most cost-effective depending upon your requirements and the cost of your motorbike.
What affects the cost of motorbike insurance?
Below is a selection of the areas that an insurer will consider when calculating the cost of your insurance cover:
The make and model of the bike that you own
If you own a bike with a powerful engine insurers will consider it to have a higher likelihood of being involved in accidents, or if it is involved in an accident it could cause more damage. Both of which present a greater risk to providers and as such will be likely to hike up the insurance cost.
Likewise, if you own an expensive motorbike or a classic bike it will cost more for an insurer to obtain parts, replace, or repair it and therefore your premiums will be higher.
The more mileage covered, the higher the likelihood of having an accident which has an effect on your premiums. Equally, if you intend to use your motorbike for commuting rather than just for social purposes then this will also affect your premiums as roads are busier at peak commuter periods.
Where you keep your motorbike
Both where you live and how securely you park and store your motorbike have an effect on the cost of insurance. Unfortunately bike and car insurance can be a bit of a postcode lottery because insurance companies place different levels of risk on different areas of the UK as some areas have higher vehicle crime than others.
Keeping you motorbike locked up at night will help to keep premiums down, as will other anti-theft measures such as bike locks, immobilisers and things like motorbike ground anchors. It is important to make sure that these devices are produced by companies that insurance companies will recognise, for example ‘Sold Secure’ or ‘Thatcham’.
Previous claims or convictions
If you have any unspent motoring convictions or have made a claim in the five years prior to applying for new insurance, this will increase the cost of your cover. You must always disclose these in your application as failure to do so could invalidate your policy, and not doing so is a criminal offence.
Your personal details
Your personal information is used by insurers to set premium levels. Age is particularly important, as younger motorcyclists under the age of 25 are perceived to be higher risk due to the higher accident statistics among this group. Occupation is also taken in to consideration as some jobs are perceived to be higher risk than others.
The excess is the amount of money you will have to pay in the event of a claim. If you have an accident this amount needs to be paid whether you are at fault or not. For example, if your motorcycle requires repairs to the value of £500 and the excess you have set is £100, you will need to pay £100 and the insurer will pay the rest.
Selecting a higher voluntary excess (the amount you contribute to the cost of a claim) when applying for your insurance will cut your premiums, but remember that you will have to pay a higher amount in the event of a claim.
Insurers will need to know the details of any other person you would like to include as a named rider. If the rider is young, or has previous motoring convictions it can drive up the cost of your insurance. Equally if you do not carry pillion passengers you can earn discount off your insurance.
When shopping for motorbike insurance you will need to have the above information to hand. It is essential that the details you use to obtain your insurance policy are correct. If you provide incorrect information or fail to declare anything your policy could be invalidated, which could result in the insurer not paying out on any claim that you might make. For this reason you should always inform your insurer if any of your details (such as address or motorbike usage habits) change.
How can the cost of motorbike insurance be reduced?
There are a number of ways to reduce the cost of your motorbike insurance, although some of these (such as level of voluntary excess and type of cover) will directly impact on the claims that can be made on the policy and the amount that may be paid to you. Here are some areas to consider:
- The UK has over 40 motorbike insurers to choose from – prices do vary and so it pays to shop around. When comparing policies make sure that you do so on a like-for-like basis when it comes to type of cover, level of excess, and what’s included in the policy.
- If your bike is kept in a secure garage and not on the road you could reduce your premium.
- Bikes that have been modified or bikes with powerful engines will cost more to insure. The smaller the engine (cc) the lower your insurance.
- If you are able to reduce your annual mileage you could reduce the cost of your insurance.
- An approved riding course such as the one offered by the Institute of Advanced Motorists could help you to obtain reductions with certain insurers.
- Fitting additional, approved security devices could lead to cheaper bike insurance.
- You can opt to increase your voluntary excess to get a reduction in your annual premium – so you agree to a higher excess level (the amount that you will pay in the event of a claim).
- Think about whether a different type of cover would suit your requirements – third party fire & theft could be a suitable (and cheaper) alternative to fully comprehensive cover.
- Avoid paying interest on your policy – paying by instalments can attract hefty interest charges that can be avoided by paying the annual cost up-front.
- The best way to reduce your insurance costs is to maximise your No Claims Bonus discount. If you upgrade to a larger engine size gradually you could build up a claim free history on a less powerful model before having to insure a more powerful version.
Not all policies are the same and when comparing insurance providers it is important that you look at all elements of a policy, not simply its price. Some insurance companies, for example, might offer legal assistance as part of the policy or include breakdown as standard, whereas some others may charge extra for these. The best price comparison sites like Tiger.co.uk offer easy and comprehensive “like-for-like” policy comparisons along with the facility to amend quotes to evaluate different excess levels and cover types.
What happens after buying a motorbike insurance policy?
Once you have paid for your policy you will be sent documentation that should include your certificate of insurance along with a policy schedule and the terms and conditions. Make sure that you read this documentation carefully and contact the insurer immediately if any of the details are incorrect.
If your circumstances change (address, occupation, etc) then you should notify your insurer. Note that this could result in an increase in the amount that you pay for your insurance policy. It is also wise to check your policy details as in some cases an additional administration charge might also be payable.
If you wish to cancel your policy at any time during the term of your insurance then you should contact your insurer who may charge a cancellation fee (check your policy terms and conditions for details).
How to make a claim on your motorbike insurance
If you have to make a claim on your policy there are a few things it is worth remembering:
- If it is a criminal matter – for example, your motorbike has been vandalised or stolen, or you are involved in an accident where someone has been injured – you need to inform the police.
- Always make a written note of what occurred and make sure you obtain the details of any other party involved in the accident or witnesses to the accident.
- Contact your insurer as soon as possible. Ask them for guidance on what evidence or further information they will need to process your claim.
- Keep records of how the claim is progressing and who you have been dealing with.
- Never arrange to repair your bike thinking that the insurer will reimburse you at a later date. Most insurance companies have specific mechanics/garages within your area that they deal with. Always wait to have your repairs authorised before proceeding.