In the UK, the laws governing motoring are very strict and purposeful. They are put in place to protect citizens from irresponsible drivers whose actions might cause property damage, injuries, and even deaths. Due to the potential severity of the consequences of such actions, motoring laws are enforced strictly.
One of those laws is a requirement for all drivers to carry insurance. The law applies to motorbikes just as it does to cars. If you own a bike and you plan to drive on public roads, it must be insured with at least the most basic cover allowed by law. Driving your bike without insurance could get you in a lot of trouble if you are caught.
Different Types of Motorbike Cover
Just like car owners, motorbike owners start with three basic policy options when choosing their bike cover. Those options are third-party only, third-party with fire and theft, and fully comprehensive. Each option covers different things as follows:
- Third-Party Only - The cheapest motorbike insurance is third-party only cover. It covers the motorbike owner for property damage or bodily injury they cause a third party. For example, if you crashed your motorbike into another vehicle and caused injuries to that vehicle's driver, third-party coverage would pay that driver's expenses to some degree.
- Third-Party with Fire and Theft - This type of motorbike insurance provides the same third-party protection with added cover against loss of your motorbike through fire or theft. Keep in mind that the nature of motorbikes dictates there are some special requirements for getting this type of cover. We will discuss more of that later on.
- Fully Comprehensive - A fully comprehensive policy covers both you and third parties against most types of loss. This is the most expensive cover but it also offers the greatest amount of financial protection. It covers your liability to third parties as well as repairing or replacement of your damaged motorbike.
Choosing which basic policy type is right for you requires you to assess your circumstances and your coverage goals. Obviously, if your budget is tight and you can only afford third-party insurance, it will have to do. However, if you have a little bit more money to spend then the additional coverage offered by a fully comprehensive policy is still a good idea.
Things That May Influence Premium Price
Many people do not understand how insurance prices are calculated, instead choosing to believe that insurance companies are just out to steal their money without giving anything in return. Nothing could be further from the truth. Insurance is a business requiring providers to earn a profit in order to continue operating.
Insurance premiums are calculated by actuaries who use a combination of statistical data, personal data provided by the driver, and market conditions to determine pricing. Their calculations are based on proven mathematical formulas capable of predicting risk rather than accurately. Here is what you need to understand:
- the greater the risk to the insurance company the more money they stand to lose
- the more money they stand to lose the more they will charge you
- there are things you can do to reduce your risk and, by extension, your monthly premiums
One of the first things to consider is your history as a driver. Nothing influences insurance prices more. If you have a long history of accidents, motoring violations, and insurance claims then you are considered a very high risk. Likewise if you are a young driver with less than a year or two of driving history. The best way to prevent your driving history from jacking your insurance rates is to make sure you minimize the number of blemishes on your record.
Other things likely to influence your premium price include:
- Security Precautions - If you decide to purchase third-party with fire and theft, you'll need to think long and hard about security precautions. Motorbikes are easy to steal when left unprotected. Some insurance companies will not provide theft cover unless you are able to secure your motorbike indoors, in a locked garage, or with an insurance company approved security device. Those will usually charge more unless you can prove your motorbike is stored securely.
- Frequency of Operation - Under normal circumstances, an insurance company assumes you will need a 12-month policy to cover your motorbike. Yet if you plan to only use your bike six months out of the year, there's no point in paying for a 12-month policy. You can purchase temporary insurance only for the month you need it, and then take the bike off the road by following the proper DVLA procedures.
- Payment Methods - How you choose to pay your insurance bill will also affect your total price. For example, many people choose monthly instalments because they require less money up front then paying for your policy in full. However, insurance companies charge fees and interest for this privilege. In the long run, monthly payments cost you more than paying one lump sum.
- Age - Believe it or not, the older you are the less expensive your motorbike insurance will be. With age come experience and, hopefully, less risk as the driver. Don't forget you can mitigate the benefits of age by driving recklessly.
Gender Equalisation Ruling
Last summer the European Court of Justice issued a ruling dictating that all insurers within their jurisdiction must end gender-based pricing by 21 December 2012. According to The Telegraph and other sources, the ruling is likely to drive the cost of all insurance policies up. One exception may be motoring policies for men, which could actually go down slightly.
If you are purchasing new cover for your motorbike, the ruling will not make much difference to you except for the fact that your premiums might be less today than they would have been last year. However, if you already have a policy in place it would be a good idea to check it against current pricing. If a new policy is less expensive, it might be worth the cancellation fee to stop your current cover and start over with a new policy.
For women, there is probably no good news in the ruling when it comes to motorbike insurance. Rates will inevitably go up well beyond what women are typically used to paying. Now more than ever, it is important for female motorbike owners to be diligent about comparison shopping.
Think about Excess
With every insurance policy comes something known as "Excess." The excess is the amount of money you are willing to contribute to satisfy a future claim. In some countries, the excess is known as a "deductible." Think of it in this way:
Suppose you had an excess of £500 per accident. If you were to file a £2,000 claim with your insurance company, they would pay £1,500 and you would cover the remaining £500 out-of-pocket. If you had a £1,000 excess then you would be splitting the claim evenly.
The thing to remember about the excess is that it will influence how much you pay for your motorbike insurance. The higher the excess you are willing to pay, the less risk you are exposing your insurance company to. By accepting a higher excess you will be reducing the annual cost of your insurance.
Keep in mind that what you choose for excess may also determine your eligibility for future no claim discounts. Some insurance companies do not offer no claim discounts for excesses of £500 or less. In some cases, you will need to accept a £1,000 access in order to be eligible for no claim discounts.
Shopping for the Best Cover
When you're ready to start shopping for motorbike cover, there are couple of choices. First, you can go directly to insurance companies or brokers that represent multiple companies. With each company you approach, you will need to fill out a separate quote form either online or in person.
Your other option is to use comparison websites that let you get multiple quotes with one single form. Comparison websites are the quickest and easiest way to get multiple quotes.
Regardless of the method you choose, be sure to follow the golden rule of honesty. While you certainly can lie on the form to save a little money, you are risking big trouble if you are caught. Lying on insurance forms is considered insurance fraud and is punishable through insurance invalidation, vehicle seizure, and even criminal prosecution.
If you own a motorbike, you have to ensure the insurance is in order to drive it on the public roads. Therefore, as long as you are spending money on motorbike cover, you might just as well do your homework to find the best deal. Getting a policy you're comfortable with at a price you can afford is not difficult; it is simply a matter of putting in the time necessary to shop around.
If you are interested in going directly to brokers or insurance companies, that's a good way to get started. Here are links to some quality websites you might be interested in:
Bennetts Insurance - Bennetts claims to be the UK's number one motorbike insurance specialist with more than 200,000 bikes currently covered. Their 80 years of experience is just what you need for great cover and customer service.
Motorcycle Direct - This company does one thing and one thing only: cover motorbikes, scooters, and mopeds. Get your online quotes here and purchase a policy when you are ready.
RAC - Offering several different types of motorbike cover along with discounts you won't find elsewhere. RAC is one of the first names in motoring insurance in the UK.
Tiger - Tiger is a specialist motorbike broker working with several of the UK's most well-known companies. Fill out one form here and get multiple quotes.
Churchill - Offering quotes on motorbike insurance with extra cover and discounts. Churchill policies cover for accessories at no extra cost.
Here are links to some of the UK's best-known comparison websites. On these sites, you'll be able to shop for multiple quotes quickly and easily.
Go Compare - Compare quotes from more than 30 providers on motor bikes, scooters, and mopeds. You can also enter for a chance to win free motorbike insurance here.
Money Supermarket - Another site offering quotes from 30 different providers. They also provide comprehensive information about how motorbike insurance works.
Confused.com - More than 35 providers are accessed through this site. Compare prices, get online quotes, and earn 2,000 nectar points when you buy online.
Compare the Market - Get quotes here for motorbikes, scooters, mopeds, and sport bikes. You can choose from standard policies or customise one according to your own needs.
Tesco Compare - Tesco brings you motorbike quotes through their partner site, The Bike Insurer. Fill out a simple, online form and you are on your way.
Money.co.uk -There are options for 31 motorbike insurance policies on this site. Compare them side-by-side and apply online for quotes.
Money Saving Expert - Everything you've ever wanted to know about motorbike insurance can be found here. The site is easy to use and has tons of useful information.