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Motorbike Insurance Guide
Motorbike insurance is typically required by UK law for all motorbike owners, to ensure they can pay for the costs of personal injury or property damage they cause in the event of an accident. A motorbike is usually exempt from this requirement if it has a Statutory Off-Road Notice, which means the bike doesn't need insurance, and can't be ridden on the road.
Levels of Coverage
In the UK, motorbike insurance has three different levels of coverage.
Third party insurance tends to be the minimum legal requirement for roadworthy motorbikes. This basic coverage level could cover the costs of any damage that a motorbike owner incurs to another party if they are in an accident for which they themselves are legally responsible. If the motorbike owner is legally responsible for an accident, they are usually liable for the costs of repairing or replacing the other party's vehicle, and for any medical expenses incurred by the other party. However, the insurance does not cover damage to the at-fault party's vehicle, or any medical expenses they incur.
Third party, fire, and theft includes third party coverage, and is also likely to pay out if the motorbike is stolen or damaged by fire.
Comprehensive motorbike insurance covers third party, fire, and theft. If the insured motorbike owner is involved in an accident they are legally responsible for, comprehensive coverage could cover the costs of their motorbike repair or replacement, and any medical expenses they incur.
Motorbike Insurance Groups
As with cars, motorbikes are generally categorised by insurance providers into different groups, and the group a motorbike is in then usually determines its basic premium price. However, while cars are categorised into one of 50 groups, the number of groups is much smaller for motorbikes. Depending on the insurer, there may be somewhere between 17 and 22 groups. As with cars, it is likely that the lower the group number of a bike, the lower its premiums are likely to be.
The group a motorbike is categorised in depends mostly on its price, power, and performance level, but other factors such as availability of spare parts and average time required for repairs also come into play.
Motorbikes are also generally categorised according to the way they likely to be used by their owners. The four groups are social, domestic and pleasure; commuting; business; courier and delivery. These categories may also influence premium costs, with high-use and commercial categories incurring higher premiums.
These insurance categories offer specialist insurance for defined groups of people and vehicles.
Classic motorbikes: This insurance may often be cheaper than standard motorbike insurance, because these motorbikes are typically on the road less, their owners are more likely to take good care of these bikes, and they're less attractive to thieves.
Modified motorbikes: Modifications could look good and add performance and power, but they might also increase premiums for these very reasons. Modded motorbikes are typically more expensive to repair too.
Young or convicted riders: These are considered high-risk categories, and a rider who is in one of these categories could pay higher premiums. Some convicted riders may find it difficult to get insurance, and may want to try a specialist insurer.
Motorbike owners could choose from several different policy addons, depending on their needs and preferences. These include the ability to nominate additional riders who are covered when using the motorbike; purchasing coverage for pillion passengers; and purchasing coverage that applies when the owner of the insured motorbike rides another motorbike.
Many factors might be used to determine premium prices, so motorbike owners could have a lot to think about when they compare motorbike insurance online. Important factors include the age and riding experience of the bike's owner, as well as the power and performance of the bike, and where the bike is kept when not in use.
Another important comparison for bike owners to consider could be what category different insurers put the motorbike in. Motorbike groupings aren't as standardised as car groupings, so with motorbikes, there's always the possibility that one or more insurers could categorise a particular bike in a lower group than other insurers, making the premium slightly cheaper.
Reducing Premium Costs
Insurance providers may take many factors into account to determine premiums, so there are many opportunities to save on insurance. To get cheap motorbike insurance, bike owners could consider the following:
- Choosing a lower-performance bike in order to qualify for a lower premium.
- Security is an important consideration in calculating premiums. Owners who keep their bikes locked in a secure garage when not in use may face lower premiums than owners who park their bikes in a driveway or on the road.
- While third party insurance is often substantially cheaper than comprehensive cover, this isn't always the case. Sometimes it's possible to find comprehensive insurance at a price comparable to that of third party.
- Motorbike modifications could increase premiums, because a modded bike is typically more difficult to repair, due to the necessity of locating special parts.
- Completing an advanced training course with an organisation such as the Institute of Advanced Motorists or the British Motorcylists Federation often allows motorbike owners to qualify for reduced premiums.
- Adding other riders to the policy could increase the premium.
- Motorbike owners who don't make claims for consecutive years could earn significant premium discounts, which means it's sometimes worthwhile to pay out of pocket for small repairs instead of making an insurance claim.
Finally, note that motorbike policies typically apply two different excess amounts. One could be a mandatory excess, the value of which may be set by the insurer. The other could be a voluntary excess in an amount nominated by the person buying the insurance. A motorbike owner could save on premiums by choosing a higher excess, but this may mean paying more out of pocket if a claim is made.