A Guide to Insurance
Taken from Ride magazine April 2013
No one gets any satisfaction from paying out hundreds of pounds every year for their motorbike insurance. But the law is quite simple: you must have insurance cover. It can be tempting to go for the minimum cover for the cheapest insurance company so you can get on the road. After all - you haven't claimed for years, don't make a habit of crashing and live in a nice area, so you won't need to have any contact with them right?
But if your bike does get stolen you're going to go through a load of grief. And the last thing you'll need is an insurance company giving you trouble too.
So how do you make sure you get the best from your insurance company when your motorbike has been stolen?
The truth, the whole truth...
Insurers typically ask 52 questions and use the answers to work out the risk, depending on the kind of motorcycle, the type of rider you are and where you live. If you answer any questions asked by your insurer wrongly - whether you mean to or not - then they are perfectly entitled to invalidate your cover. If it's in a wafer thin garden shed, don't say you have a locked brick garage. If you've fitted hundreds of pounds worth of accessories, make sure you disclose this.
Age, riding experience and location are the most important factors for determining risk. If you live in a flat in South London and that is where your motorbike is kept, registering it at your parents' house in the country could lead to the insurers investigating your circumstances and your policy being void.
Read the small print
Make sure the excess you agree on is affordable. Saving £20 on the premium is of no use if you're stung with paying the first £500 when your motorbike is nicked. Before trying to be clever by undervaluing your motorbike to save on the premium, look at how much it would cost to replace your bike, like for like. If your bike is nearly new, consider 'gap' insurance, which would pay the difference between what the insurance company say your motorbike is worth and how much it would be to buy a new one.
Similarly any extras on your motorbike need to be taken into account. Take some good quality pictures of your motorbike in case there is any dispute over value. For unusual or classic bikes it may be worth getting a specialist bike shop to give you a valuation. Despite a theft not being your fault, you will have to disclose any claims to future insurers. If you have built up a healthy no-claims bonus, most companies offer a way of protecting this.
Don't be put off if the first couple of insurance quotes for your bike or area are high. One insurance company may have had more claims for a type of motorbike or a certain area than others, so it really does pay to shop around. A company with a high claim rate in a certain area may insist on motorbikes over a certain value being garaged. Some companies specialise in specific risks, for example under-19s with scooters, or riders with previous claims.
When you're buying a motorbike, make sure you shop around for insurance before you seal the deal on the bike. Some types of motorbikes are stolen more than others, and this is reflected in premiums. Although there has been a large increase in sales of expensive adventure motorbikes, they are still not stolen as much as sportsbikes. Accordingly MCE rate a Suzuki GSX-R1000 as group 21, their highest grouping, while a Triumph Tiger 1050 is only group 12.
Does extra security help?
"The best way to improve your security is by keeping your bike in a locked garage," says Julian Edwards, boss of MCE Insurance. "This can also result in a premium saving. For bikers who don't have a garage, while we don't offer discounts we do recommend they fit locks with a ground anchor and keep their bike away from view of the road or path. And if commuting use a public car park as opposed to street parking."
So what don't insurance companies think works? "Alarms that simply make a noise do not provoke reactions from the general public. A system that includes an immobiliser is much better."
If the worst happens...
- Report the theft to the police and obtain a crime reference number.
- Report the theft to your insurer.
- Check locally to see if your bike has just been dumped or left.
- Once it has been reported the theft is 'diarised' for 14 days to see if it is recovered. After that valuation can be agreed and the claim is checked, a process that includes examining all the paperwork.
- Once all is in order, payment is requested from the underwriters. If there are no problems, a claim can take as little as 28 days to settle - so it pays to make sure you have all your papers, photos and details to hand.
21.04.13 - James Davey