Buying Motorcycle Insurance Cover

Anyone riding a motorcycle needs to have insurance cover. For starters, it’s a legal requirement. But when it comes to buying insurance cover, how do you know which type of cover you need, and how much you’ll have to pay for it?

There are generally two types of motorcycle cover: ‘specified rider’ covers the rider and not the bike which allows you, as the insured, to ride any bike up to a certain size; while ‘specified bike’ covers only the bike and not the rider, so if you wanted to insure a group of riders to ride one particular motorbike then this would be the appropriate insurance cover.

Motorcycle Insurance Policy Cover Types

Motorcycle insurance is broken down into three main components, similar to the way car insurance is:

Third Party Cover

This is the most basic type of cover and covers your liability for injuries to others, including your passengers, as well as damage to other people’s property. Accidents that your passenger may cause are also included in this cover. However, should your motorbike be damaged or stolen you cannot claim under this cover.

Third Party, Fire and Theft

With this type of cover, as well as being covered for the eventualities referred to above, you are also covered in the event of fire and theft.

Comprehensive Cover

This cover includes all that’s covered under the ‘Third Party, Fire and Theft’ cover plus any accidental or malicious damage that’s caused to your bike. Comprehensive cover also covers you for any injury you suffer as a result of an accident that is not your fault – your insurer will obtain compensation on your behalf. Medical expenses such as any transport costs to hospital are also covered, and sometimes physical rehabilitation costs are also included. Under this type of cover you can also claim for loss of, or damage to, personal effects; for example, if your motorcycle helmet is stolen from a top box on your bike you can claim for a replacement one.

How Much Will I Pay for Cover?

When it comes to how much you will pay for your particular motorcycle insurance cover, there are a number of factors that determine the cost of premiums:

Your age: The younger the rider, the higher the premiums. Younger riders are far more likely to be involved in a motorbike accident than older riders, and the damage they cause to themselves is usually very costly and long-lasting.

Your occupation: Riders who spend long hours on the road will pay higher premiums than those who don’t – the more hours a motorcyclist spends travelling from one location to another, the greater his or her risk of an accident.

Your location: City dwellers are more at risk of being a victim of crime than those motorcyclists who live in the country, and as such, pay higher insurance premiums.

Driving history: Any driving-related claims made in the past will affect the premiums you pay for your motorcycle insurance cover, and if you’ve claimed in the past, you can expect to pay higher than average premiums.

Security devices: Using anti-theft devices such as immobilisers, alarms, and steering locks will result in lower than average premiums, especially if you live in a city with high crime rates.

Performance and type of motorcycle: Powerful bikes attract higher premiums, especially for the younger rider. The premiums you pay may also be affected by the make of bike: makes such as Ducati, Hayabusa, and Fireblade appeal to both the motorbike enthusiast and the motorbike thief. In addition, expensive bikes are likely to be more costly to repair which will be reflected in the premiums.

Parking: Where you park your motorcycle will affect how much you pay in premiums. If you can keep your bike locked under cover in a garage then this will reduce the cost. Even if you’re able to keep your bike off the road on a private driveway, this will reduce the chances of it getting stolen or damaged, which will be reflected in the premiums charged.

Excess: The more money you’re prepared to pay as excess, the lower the premiums will be. The average excess is £200, but this can be higher.

When buying motorcycle insurance cover bear in mind that if you don’t use your bike during the winter months and cancel your cover, your motorcycle is still at risk of being stolen or damaged – even if it’s locked in a garage (and thieves are all too aware that this is what many motorcyclists do with their bikes during the winter). It may be possible to reduce the level of insurance cover for your motorbike, saving yourself money while still maintaining essential minimum cover for the period your bike is off the road.

What You Need to Tell Your Insurance Company

Under your insurance policy, you will have a duty to inform your insurance company of changes you make to your motorcycle. This could be anything from tweaking the engine to improve its performance, to cosmetic changes to the bike’s bodywork. Essentially, it’s any change that you make to the bike that alters the standard production line specifications. While you may be concerned that disclosing this information to your insurer will result in increased premiums, this may not necessarily be the case, and the overall cost of your insurance cover may not be affected.

You are also expected to advise your insurer if you change the purpose(s) for which you use your motorcycle. For example, if you add a trailer to your bike and then use it to make deliveries, this could result in your bike falling into a completely different insurance category. In addition, if you allow other riders to use your motorcycle, then you need to inform your insurance company. In doing so, you ensure that you have fulfilled your legal obligations in respect of the insurance cover.

Motorcycle No Claims Discount

You build up your motorcycle insurance no claims discount (or no claims bonus (NCB)) in the same way you do for car insurance. You will need at least 12 months without making a claim before your NCB will start to come into effect. Your NCB will then increase with the number of claim-free years that follow until it reaches your insurer’s maximum, which could be as high as 50 percent. As with car insurance, you can usually protect yourself from losing your NCB for a small additional fee, which is worth doing so because this is one of the most valuable tools in helping to reduce the overall cost of motorcycle insurance.

Your NCB cannot be transferred to another rider as each individual rider has to build up his or her own level of NCB benefit. And if you also have car insurance cover, your NCB under that policy will be treated as a completely separate entity to any NCB you might have under your motorcycle insurance policy.

Optional Expenses Legal Cover

Most insurance companies have optional extras that you can add on to increase the level of cover, one of which is expenses legal cover. This will cover you for any legal costs that might result from an accident that might not have been your fault. This has the added advantage of ensuring that your NCB remains in tact. There are usually exclusions to this cover however, one of the most common being when your bike is used for other purposes: for example, you would be excluded from making a claim under this cover if it related to an accident in which you were using your motorcycle in a competition, speed trial, or a rally.

Keeping Your Insurance Premiums Low

There are a number of measures you can take if you want to keep your insurance premiums to a minimum. Limit the usage of your motorcycle: if you have alternative transport, then use this as your main mode of transport and limit the use of your motorbike to weekends. When choosing a motorcycle, try to avoid the high-powered models. A sports bike will attract much higher premiums than a standard bike as the risk of accident and theft are greater. Reduce the risk of your motorcycle being stolen by parking it off-road or in a locked garage; this will reduce the chances of it being stolen which will be reflected in the insurance premiums you pay.

Taking Your Motorbike Abroad

All motorcycle insurance will provide some basic cover for travelling in Europe. A condition will be that the country you are travelling in is part of the European Union. While this means that you will be insured for the minimum amount demanded by the laws of the country you are visiting, you will normally be able to increase the level of cover so that it is the same as in the UK, although you will probably have to pay your insurance company a small fee for doing so. It always pays to take your insurance documents with you when travelling abroad as should you be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, you will have a lot less explaining to do if you can show you have the necessary insurance cover.

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