You should first decide on an appropriate level of cover. As with car insurance, there are essentially three types of motorbike insurance policy: third party, third party fire and theft, and comprehensive. Third party insurance is the minimum legal requirement and pays out if you injure another person or damage their property in an accident that was your fault. It does not, however, include any repairs to your own bike.
You can add cover in case your bike is stolen or damaged by fire with third party fire and theft. Or you can upgrade to comprehensive cover, which includes a range of extra benefits such as personal injury insurance.
It’s worth comparing quotes for both third party and comprehensive policies as you might find there is barely any difference in the premiums. So, for a little extra money, you could buy a lot more cover.
Biking for pleasure
Standard motorbike insurance usually covers social domestic and pleasure use, such as visiting friends or day trips. If you commute to work on your bike, you should make sure you are insured for the journey and might have to pay extra to include commuting. Riders who use their bike for business purposes need specialist cover, depending on their trade or profession.
Always read the small print of your insurance as cheapest is not always best. You might, for example, occasionally ride a friend’s motorbike or perhaps take a passenger on your own bike. But passengers and other bikes are not always covered on the cheaper policies. It’s also worth bearing in mind that almost every policy excludes racing or speed trials, as they are considered too risky.
Helmet and leathers
Most insurers offer a range of add-ons to a standard policy. You might, for example, consider legal expenses insurance, which could help towards any legal costs following an accident. You can also add breakdown cover or insurance for your helmet and bike leathers, though you would normally have to pay an additional premium.
Riding on the Continent
Some policies include cover if you take your motorbike to Europe. However, it is usually limited to a set number of days and might only be third party insurance. If you plan to take your bike onto the Continent, you should therefore contact your insurer and arrange to extend the policy if necessary.
Insurance companies take a number of factors into account when setting premiums including the type and level of cover. Young riders usually pay more than older motorcyclists because they are statistically more risky, as are those with previous motoring convictions. You can also expect costlier cover if you drive more miles - and if you have an expensive bike.
Theft accounts for nearly half of all bike insurance claims, so people in high-risk postcodes tend to pay higher premiums. But everyone needs to keep their bike secure at all times, as it not only reduces the likelihood of theft but can also reduce the cost of cover.
Alarms and immobilisers can help to deter thieves. It’s also a good idea to think about security markings and tagging systems so that your bike is easier to identify if it is stolen. But make sure that you fit an approved device, recognised by your insurance company.
Locks vary in quality, so aim for a top-of-the range model. U-locks are harder to break than disc locks, but the most common way to steal a bike is to lift it into the back of a truck. You should therefore ensure that your motorcycle is locked to a solid, immovable object such as a lamp post or dedicated motorcycle stand.
Some insurers will not even look at your bike if it is parked on the street overnight. It should ideally be kept in a locked garage when it’s not in use, preferably secured with a ground or wall anchor.
Modifying your motorbike
Many enthusiasts like to modify their motorbike, but you must tell your insurer about any alterations. You might even have to inform the DVLA, depending on the type of modification.
Modified bikes are typically more expensive to insure for a number of reasons. A customised motorbike is often more attractive to thieves. The modifications can also increase the value and the power of the bike. If your motorbike has undergone major changes, the insurer could ramp up the cost of cover by as much as 75%. But most firms are more tolerant of minor alterations such as non standard handlebars or mirrors.
All motorbike insurance policies come with a compulsory excess, which is the amount you must pay towards each claim. So, if you put in a claim for £500 with an excess of £100, the insurer would pay out only £400. A typical excess might be between £100 and £200, though it could be more if you are a young rider or your bike is particularly valuable. You can usually negotiate a higher voluntary excess in return for a lower premium. However, you should not agree to an unaffordable excess or you might struggle to meet your financial obligations in the event of a claim.
No claims discount
You can usually earn a discount on your motorbike insurance if you do not make any claims. The size of the discount varies, but can be 50% or more if you can manage four or five claim-free years. You might therefore choose not to claim for any minor incidents in order to safeguard the discount. You can also usually pay to protect your no claims discount (NCD), allowing you to make a number of claims within a set period, without jeopardising your NCD.
You do not have to stick with the same insurer if you have built up an NCD as a new firm will take your claims history into account. But you might not necessarily earn the same discount and you might have to provide proof of your claim-free record. If you have built up an NCD on your car insurance you cannot usually transfer it to a bike policy. However, some insurers honour a motorbike NCD if you switch to a car policy.
Getting the best deal
MoneySupermarket’s free online comparison service is a quick and easy way to compare motorbike quotes from all the leading insurers. It takes only a few minutes, but can save you a lot of cash without compromising on quality.
Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.