If you own a motorcycle - whether you use it all year round or only in the summer - it always needs to be insured. As with any other insurance, it’s important to make sure you’re covered for everything you need in the event of an accident. But what’s involved in choosing motorcycle insurance, and what do you need to be aware of?
What types of motorcycle insurance are available?
As with car insurance, motorcycle insurance is available in three different levels of cover – third party only; third party, fire and theft; and comprehensive.
Third party only insurance is the minimum legal requirement in the UK, and it covers damage to property and liability for damage or injury to a third party. It doesn’t cover your bike if it is stolen or set on fire. For this, you would need third party, fire and theft cover.
Comprehensive cover includes all of the above, and generally covers any damage to your motorbike. It may also cover vandalism and medical expenses, but it’s important to check your policy carefully to find out if there are any exclusions. For example, you may not be covered if you race your motorbike, and doing so without proper cover could lead to a fine and points on your licence.
What class of usage do you need?
The main categories of motorbike usage are:
- Social, domestic and pleasure
- Business use
- Courier and delivery
When you take out your motorbike insurance policy, make sure you choose the right type of usage for your needs, otherwise you may not be covered in the event of an accident.
What optional extras should you look out for?
You may want your insurance policy to cover something extra, such as riding other motorbikes, adding additional drivers to your policy, or carrying passengers riding pillion. These things may not be covered by your standard insurance policy, so you will need to check the small print and purchase any optional extras separately.
Other optional extras include breakdown cover, personal accident cover for claiming back medical fees, helmet and leathers cover, and loss of earnings and legal expenses.
How does motorbike insurance no claims bonus work?
For every year you are insured and don’t make a claim, you build up your no claims bonus. The amount of discount you receive for this will vary and depends on your insurer. If you make a claim that is considered to be your fault, you will lose some of your no claims discount. If you make a claim and your insurance company can’t recover the costs, this will affect your discount even if the accident wasn’t your fault.
This works in the same way as no claims bonus on car insurance. However, most insurers will not allow you to transfer your no claims bonus from your car to your motorbike.
What factors affect your motorcycle insurance premiums?
The price of your insurance premiums is determined by a number of factors, including:
- The type of motorbike you would like to insure
- Where you keep your bike and any security devices you use
- Whether there have been any modifications made to the motorcycle
- Your riding history, including prior insurance claims and convictions
- The area you live in (e.g. whether it has a high crime rate)
- How many miles you ride in a year
- Your age
How can you reduce the cost of your motorcycle insurance?
Bearing the above factors in mind, there are some things you can do to lower your insurance premiums. For example, consider keeping your motorcycle in a garage or driveway overnight if you can, and if you haven’t yet chosen a motorcycle, bear in mind that one with a smaller engine and no modifications could be cheaper to insure.
Paying for your insurance annually rather than monthly is usually cheaper, as monthly payments are normally subject to interest charges.
You could also choose a higher voluntary excess to reduce your motorbike insurance premiums. Insurance excess is your contribution towards a claim, and it is made up of compulsory excess, which is decided by the insurer, and voluntary excess, which you can choose when you take out your policy. Offering to pay a higher voluntary excess can reduce your premiums, but make sure it is an amount you would be able to afford if you ever needed to make a claim.