What you need to know about Motorcycle Insurance
Insurance can be confusing at the best of times so to make it easier to understand we’ve compiled a list of our top tips of everything you need to know about motorcycle insurance.
First things first, it’s all about you…
Your occupation can affect your premium more than you might think. Those people who are deemed to be in the ‘public eye’ could end up paying more to cover the threat of vandalism. Not only that but if your job leads you to be spending more time on your motorcycle this can also lead to a higher premium.
When completing your insurance quote form you will see there are two fields; primary work and part-time employment, which you have to include even if it’s only voluntary work.
Your home address has to be your home address, even if you store your bike at a different address (locked up at your secure office in London). You need to make this clear to your insurer. There are some insurers that won’t even quote for a motorcycle that’s not kept in a secure garage at home overnight, particularly in bigger cities.
Different insurers offer varying discounts for the use of security devices. If you can layer more than one security device then that can also reduce the chances of your motorcycle being stolen.
Make and model
The more expensive or powerful your bike, the more it will cost to fix or replace if you were to make a claim, therefore you will usually see a higher premium.
Modifications and accessories
What’s the difference between a modification and an accessory on my motorcycle? If you’re unsure on what your latest customisation to your bike is then check out our extensive list.
It’s important to declare all accessories and modifications made to your motorbike so we can correctly insure it.
Honesty is the only policy
Any falsification of information is deemed as fraud and at best could lead to a claim being repudiated and at worst a customer being prosecuted for fraud – so always tell the truth about your details.
Let’s talk about your biking history…
Still riding on a provisional licence?
You’ll need to know the date you passed your CBT. Remember that your CBT is only valid for 2 years.
No Claim Discount (NCD) / No Claim Bonus (NCB)
Your No Claim Discount, often referred to as NCD, can have a great impact on reducing your premium, the maximum NCD is 9 years. Make sure you have contacted your insurer so you know exactly how many years you have – if you state an incorrect NCD when obtaining a quote you’ll find your premium will go up when it’s not right on your supporting documentation.
Advanced motorcycle training
Be sure to mention if you have completed any recognised advanced training courses such as; RoSPa (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) and ERS (Enhanced Riders Scheme). Some insurers will offer you a discount due to you being deemed a safer rider.
Save money with multi bike insurance when you own more than one motorcycle
If you have more than one motorcycle, don’t get two separate policies! Use a multi bike policy and you’ll reduce the overall premium. This is based on the fact that you can’t ride both of the bikes at the same time, therefore the risk is reduced. Some companies can’t quote you for multi-bike policies online; you have to ring up due to the complex nature of multiple bikes and combinations.
Do you drive a car?
Wonder why you get asked about your car licence when you’re purchasing motorcycle cover? Well your car experienced counts. You’ll be asked how long you’ve had your car licence and what type it is. Some companies will take this information on board and it could potentially give you a better quote.
Accidents, claims and convictions
The biggest impact on your premium is because of any accidents, claims and convictions that you may have incurred – some companies may not even quote you!
Accidents and claims
You must inform your insurer of any accidents or claims you’ve been involved in irrespective of blame or if a claim was made, in any vehicle not just those on your motorcycles. This is one of the biggest ways people trip up when finding suitable insurance cover.
Questions will always be asked about convictions or bans by your insurer, although any ‘endorsements’ will stay on your licence for a minimum of 4 years it’s still good to disclose to your insurer, insurers should not penalise the policyholder if it has expired.
It is important any conviction not spent is disclosed to your insurer, most insurers will ask about these.
Mileage and excesses
A top tip is to go through your old MOT certificates to give you a realistic number of how many miles you do on a yearly basis; by being as realistic as possible you could save yourself a few pounds.
Another way of reducing your policy cost is to increase your voluntary excess. Although it will reduce the cost of your policy, it might only decrease it by 5 – 10%.
It’s good to understand what your policy excesses are: if you take out a policy on a bike worth £500, and your policy might have a compulsory and voluntary excess that also adds up to £500 – making a claim would be impossible if the bike was stolen.
Sometimes people will take up a policy on a bike worth £500, and they might have a compulsory and voluntary excess that adds up to £500 too. So they’re never going to make a claim even if it’s stolen.
What kind of cover are you looking for?
The type of cover you choose for your motorcycle will show a variation in the cost for your insurance. It’s entirely up to you which type of insurance level of cover you choose dependent on your individual circumstances and budget.
Comprehensive (Fully Comp)
Comprehensive insurance policies will cover damage to others property/vehicle, damage to your vehicle/property caused by an accident, theft or fire. Fully comp policies and what they cover does tend to vary greatly between insurers and so it’s important that you understand exactly what is included in the policy before you buy.
Third party fire and theft only (TPFT)
Third party fire and theft only insurance doesn’t cover any damage sustained to your motorbike, but it does cover damage to others property/vehicle. Your motorbike will also be covered in the event of a fire or theft. In the event of an accident that isn’t your fault, you may be able to claim through the insurance of the other individual involved.
Third party only (TPO)
This is the minimum insurance requirement for motorbikes in the UK, and it provides the minimum level of cover. Third party only insurance only covers damage to others property/vehicle and you/your vehicle won’t be covered in the event of any accident or incident, unless you’re involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, in which case you may be able to claim through the insurance of the other individual involved. It can be handy for those on a budget, but it also means that you could be out of pocket should you ever need to make a claim.
Third party only insurance is not always the cheapest option, explore other covers before making a decision.
Motorbike insurance coverage explained
What’s the difference between modifications and accessories on a motorcycle?
If your bike has been changed always ensure to declare any extras you have added to the vehicle that don’t effect performance – otherwise known as Accessories – such as panniers, scott oilers, windscreens, extra seat etc.
If you have modified your bike, where component parts have been replaced or tweaked for a better ride, faster turning or straight line speed – otherwise known as Modifications – such as different exhaust systems, including end cans, uprated rear shocks, rear sets changed, power commander, steering damper etc.
Important note: When you are entering details for a bike insurance quote, be aware of ASSUMED QUESTIONS, most will default to say there are no modifications.
What is agreed value on bike insurance?
If your bike is deemed unique, cherished, one of a kind, old yet immaculate; then insurers may struggle to match the value in their assessment, compared to its value to you. Where this is the case some Insurers will offer a policy that allows an agreement of the valuation, by requesting a declaration, photos and any supporting documentation.
IF agreed, in the event of the claim the Insurer will use this agreed value to settle claims on, rather than market value (which may be a lot less than you value the bike at).
Is my motorbike insured? How to check!
You can check to see if your motorbike is insured on the Motor Insurance Database (MID). You can also speak to your bike insurance company and confirm that your vehicle is insured, as the MID isn’t updated the moment you take out your insurance, there is a manual process to add recently insured vehicles.
You will also receive official documentation from your insurer or broker that will include your insurance certificate which also confirms whether or not your motorbike is insured.
Why isn’t my motorbike insurance showing up on the MID yet?
The Motor Insurance Database is a central database that holds every insured vehicle in the UK. It is not automatically updated when your motorbike insurance is taken out and takes a couple of days to appear as insured.
It is not updated on weekends and bank holidays, so this may increase the time it takes to appear as insured. If you have received your insurance documents then this will be enough to prove that you are insured if needs be.
Policy endorsements explained
Your insurance coverage is described in your Insurance Schedule, which refers to your Policy Booklet. In this booklet, the extent of cover along with any conditions and exclusions are clarified. Most insurers will apply similar restrictions, but it is worth checking the main exclusions as this may have helped reduced your premium, but removes the cover you want.
In addition to policy wording, insurers are able to modify the coverage by applying Endorsements.
These act as additional exclusions and conditions. Some will simply clarify the amount of excess you pay, others advise what happens if you don’t garage your vehicle overnight or if you don’t apply the security you said you had.
Always check the endorsements and ask your broker to further explain if needs be; allowing you to be crystal clear on what you are covered for and what you are not.
Statement of Fact explained
When you start your bike policy, when you make changes and when you renew, your broker will present you a Statement of Fact. This document is set out to clarify the relevant information held about you. As Insurance is a contract, the statement of fact, is the basis this contract is built from.
If the details are incorrect / misleading / missing then your insurer may query and could take action; either to cancel your policy, charge additional premium or, if you have a claim, they may argue that wrong / missing information means they don’t have to pay.
It is therefore vital, you ensure (double and triple check) the information contained are true statements about you, your bike, any additional drivers.
Driving / riding other bikes
Sometimes insurers provide an extension to your coverage, which enables you to use someone else’s bike on a temporary basis. Cover for other people’s bikes would only be Third Party Only (TPO), (so if you drop it or it is stolen in your care, your policy would not cover it) .
In addition, the bike needs to be insured in its own right by someone other than yourself. This extension isn’t an add-on but given when the insurer’s criteria allows. It isn’t designed to be used frequently, but just an emergency situation only.
Previous Claims, Convictions and No Claims Bonus
When asked for previous accidents, thefts and claims, insurers want to know of any instance within the last 5 years, where you or any other rider you want covered have been involved in. To be clear for you, this means regardless of fault and regardless of what vehicle was involved, be it a car, van, bike etc.
When declaring any motoring convictions, you need to let your insurer know, regardless of the vehicle involved, a motoring conviction in your car will still be considered when you’re taking out your motorbike insurance.
For No Claims Bonus, insurers will provide high levels of discount based on recent claim free driving. Brokers would normally request a proof of No Claims Bonus, so when stating the number of years you have to use on your policy make sure you can prove it.
No Claims Bonus must come from another Bike policy. Insurers will not recognise Car, Van, Fleet No Claims Bonus.
Why it’s important to cancel your bike insurance if you no longer use or own the bike
If you need to cancel your policy, as you no longer use or own the bike, it is important you advise your broker. If you keep your policy running – maybe to build up another year of No Claims Bonus or to avoid a cancellation fee; the fact you have insurance on the bike in your name remains active on the Motor Insurers Database.
This system is used to check insurance is in place with the DVLA, police and other insurers using it to validate details.
If you remain on this database and an incident occurs on the bike (maybe by a new owner), if they haven’t sorted their own insurance, the claim may come back on you and subsequently effect your NCB and claim history.
Brokers, insurers and comparison sites – what’s the difference when buying bike insurance?
People can sometimes get confused about the difference between insurers, brokers and comparison websites. We’ll try and explain in the simplest way possible…
The insurer is the company that carries the risk – and pays out in the event of an accident to your bike, theft or any liability to other vehicles, property or people.
Think of them like the bike manufacturer.
The broker, this company has products from a number of different insurers.
Think of them like a motorbike dealer.
They have different products from different brands and use their systems, market penetration and relationships to negotiate the best price for their customers. They will arrange the policy – from inception, any changes through-out the year and also your renewal, helping you with advice and any issues along the way.
The comparison sites, these are the big players, think of them like Auto Trader.
They have access to all the products from most of the broker market. They don’t administer anything; they simply provide an easier method to present your quote details to numerous brokers. They charge a fee to brokers and insurers for helping to sell their products and have minimal involvement once the policy is sold.
Which comparison websites can you use for motorcycle insurance?
There are numerous comparison websites that you can use to purchase your motorcycle insurance. These are hugely popular as you can view all the prices from the market in one place, rather than doing separate quotes on each provider’s site.
What about cashback sites such as Quidco and TopCashBack?
You will find many different bike insurance providers featuring on cashback sites. It does what it says on the tin really, you’ll get money back if you purchase products through it.
This can often be complicated by the fact that consumers run a quote through a comparison site, and then retrieve it through a cashback site – you will not be entitled to your cashback by doing it this way.
Sales will be tracked digitally by each provider, if you initially get the quote through a comparison site that it will be attributed to that site, recalling it through a cashback site will still mean the sale is through the comparison and they will be attributed the commission, not the cashback site.
The key here is to always run a new quote through the cashback sites to ensure it is attributed to them and not a previous place you have attained a quote through.
“I’ve got more years No Claim Discount but my premium went up – what’s the deal here?”
It could be due to the fact that your circumstances have changed. Have you changed to a more expensive or more powerful bike, or changed your address during the year? The premium you are charged may not be reflective of what the premium will be. It is worth asking your broker what the current premium will be on an annualised basis – so you have better awareness at renewal.
It could just be due to the fact that insurance rates have gone up, or your particular risk profile has been reassessed by your particular insurer due to more people who have a similar profile to you. The increase in bike thefts, especially in larger cities has also had an impact on bike insurance rates.
Back in March 2017, there were also changes to the Ogden rate, this resulted in underwriters having to pay our larger amounts in claims. The more money that is needed to pay our claims, means the higher premiums have to be to cover the cost of these. This isn’t just for bike insurance but across the whole insurance industry.
The other factor to consider here is the new business discounts that may have initially been applied to your premium on a comparison site.
The fact of the matter is that when companies use comparison sites to generate business, they need to discount their premiums in order to remain competitive. They also need to pay the comparison site commission. This means that when your renewal comes up, the large discounts that were put into the comparison site aren’t as generous as they were before, as the business tries to bring back the premium to its realistic rate.
Therefore, some customers experience an increase in premium despite an increase in No Claims Bonus, not an enjoyable experience, but it can be due to the fact that the premium you initially received was so heavily discounted.
The next step is up to you. Do you revisit the comparison sites, gain a new heavily discounted quote and continue to do this year after year? The big question is, is the company you’re with providing a service that is worth sticking around for?
Do they answer the phone quickly? Are they helpful and knowledgeable when you speak to them? Is the level of cover you have what you desire? Do they offer a reliable claims service?
If you can answer yes to most of these questions, you may wish to stick around, as the cheapest option isn’t always the one that is the best for you, especially if you need to make a claim.
What should I do if I have a motorcycle accident?
The thought of ever being in an accident is unbearable but it is something we should consider!
We’ve put together a handy video infographic which explains exactly what to do should you ever be involved in a motorcycle accident…